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Snow Days Mean Less Time for Test Prep

Patrick Moffett, an AP calculus teacher at Norwalk High School, worries that he won't have enough time to prepare his students for their Advanced Placement exam in May.

With six snow days and a couple of delayed openings and early closings this winter in Norwalk, he says he has lost valuable time. "I have to get through my material quicker," he says.

Last year, when the district lost a week of classes because of a March hurricane, Moffett made YouTube videos so his class wouldn't fall behind. This year, he may have to do the same.

Although much of the debate on snow days centers on vacation schedules and hot days in late June, many educators and parents are concerned about diminished instruction time in the classroom. Less time in class means less time to prepare for high-stakes state and national standardized tests.

The Connecticut Mastery Tests for grades 3-8 and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test for Grade 10 are multiday tests administered across the state in early March. The tests, in part, determine whether a school meets national goals set by No Child Left Behind. Students nationwide take Advanced Placement exams in May.

Moffett has to get through a set amount of material to prepare his students for the AP exam. Usually he spends the last month before the exam reviewing. But like last year, Moffett says he'll have less time for review. "It's tight at the end of the year, I'm cramming in material." He says that he wouldn't mind "dropping days" from the February break to make up for snow days.

"You lose the academic routine," Norwalk High School Principal Leonard Mecca says. He says the midterm exams at the high school were stretched over two weeks because of the snow days.

Brookside Elementary School Principal David Hay says he has had to rearrange the school schedule so that all mornings can be free for CMT preparation. "Time is very important for us," says Hay. "We have a schedule that we follow for test prep that is being disrupted."

Lee Cundiff, an AP computer science teacher at Norwalk High, has issues with the district's calendar in general. He says Norwalk students are at a disadvantage with their peers across the country. "We already start behind other school districts whose calendars start earlier and have fewer vacations," says Cundiff. "The fact that February vacation is immediately before testing is an example of setting up our students to fail. The same thing will occur in April with the AP exams starting in early May. Is this fair to the students?"

He says, "The clock is ticking. I am two weeks behind where I'm supposed to be."

Are you worried that students won't be prepared for their tests because of snow days?

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