As students return to school this month in Anchorage, they will have one hour a week less of instructional time so teachers can take part in what is called Professional Learning Communities, an hour a week when teachers can collaborate and adjust their approach to individual student needs.
Since 2016, the late Monday late start was only in effect for high schools. This year, schools for all grades will start one hour later every Monday.
The Mat-Su Borough School District began observing the PLC Monday schedule last year for all grades.
“Providing this consistent professional development and collaboration time is a valuable tool that will help teachers and school staff support and adjust to student learning needs. We believe that the hour dedicated to teacher learning and collaboration on Mondays will move the needle for student achievement and greatly benefit all ASD students. PLCs equals improved classroom experiences, which leads to better student outcomes,” the district explains on its website.
“Professional Learning Communities (PLC) is a research-based collaborative structure used by educators to continuously learn, improve, and adapt teaching methods to help improve student outcomes. ASD will be implementing this weekly 1 hour structure which will support the District’s Board goals around Reading, Math, and College, Career, and Life Readiness,” the district says.
Bus transportation will start one hour later on Mondays only. School will end at the regular time. Parents will also be allowed to drop their students off at the regular start time, and as teachers participate in professional development, other staff members will be made available to supervise early-arriving students.
Before adopting PLC Monday, the Anchorage School District hosted focus groups, numerous interviews with appropriate medical professionals, three community town hall meetings, and a survey that received 9,926 responses. The results supported the board’s vote in moving to a different school start time model, according to the school district.
In Anchorage, school begins on Aug. 17, with pre-K and kindergarten beginning on Aug. 24.
On Mondays, elementary schools will start at 10 am and release at 3:30 pm, middle schools will start at 9:15 am and release at 2:45 pm, and high schools will start at 8:30 am and release at 2 pm.
In the Mat-Su Borough, school begins on Aug. 15, with most schools observing the PLC Monday start time of 10:15 am and release time of 3:45 pm.
It is unclear how these school districts make up the requirements to teach the state’s minimum required 180 days of instruction. One hour a week over the course of the year can add up. For Anchorage, the 16 Mondays that will have an hour subtracted from learning time adds up to 16 hours less instruction between Aug 17 and winter break. Another 15 hours of instruction are lost between winter break and the end of the school year, for a total of over 30 hours of lost instructional time.
Add that to the snow days that occur each year and there may be several days that must be made up at the end of the school year.