Understanding School Calendars

  • One of the top priorities in the Los Angeles Unified School District is to achieve high graduation rates and to prepare students for college and careers.

    The LAUSD single-track instructional calendar offers 180 school days, two pupil-free teacher preparation days, and federal, state and district holidays. The Board of Education approves the calendar on a yearly basis.

    In addition, the board approves “unassigned days” which are based on high absenteeism days for both teachers and students. In these cases, schools are closed, while central support offices remain open.

    Historically, the single-track instructional calendar started after Labor Day, and ended in late June of the following year. Since early 2000, high school principals asked the district to consider an “early start” calendar.

    Before the early start model began districtwide in 2012-2013, 17 high schools and one elementary school successfully piloted the early start model for two years.

    The early start schedule allows all high school students to finish the final exams in the first semester before the winter break. Students also have more time to prepare for school and college placement exams.

    By finishing the school year in early June, students are reported to have more summer job and summer college program choices.
    What is the reason for planning the single-track instructional calendar for the next three years?

    Since 2012-13, when the school year started in mid-August, some parents and employees asked the District to “push back” the start of the school year to late August or early September. High summer temperatures and the desire to have family vacations were the two main reasons cited.  In response, the Board of Education adopted a 2015-16 calendar that pushed back the school start date by one week in August. To ensure that families don’t have to wonder about the possibility of significant changes in the school calendar on a yearly basis, Superintendent Ramon Cortines will submit the 2016-19 calendar proposal for adoption by the board.

    Why is the District asking input from families and school-based employees regarding school calendars?

    The school calendar affects more than 600,000 families, and thousands of employees.  Recognizing how important this topic is for our stakeholders, the District is committed to conducting a robust survey before Superintendent Cortines presents recommendations to the Board for the adoption of a school calendar for the next three years. The board votes to adopt the final calendar based on recommendation from the Superintendent and feedback from stakeholders.

    How will the survey results be used?

    The results will be shared with the L.A. Unified community. The board will review this information before voting in January 2016 on a final calendar.

    I have already responded to a phone survey in late September. Do I have to do the survey again?

    More than 58,000 families responded to the phone survey in September. Although this is an unprecedented high response rate, many families and employees experienced technical difficulties with completing the survey, and asked that it be repeated, and to offer an online version. Due to the time that elapsed between surveys, and because respondents might opt for different answers, the survey will be offered to everyone again. The content of the survey will be the same as it was in September.

    Will the District compile the results of the phone survey conducted on September 25 and 26, 2015?

    Yes, results of the previous poll will be shared with the L.A. Unified community, along with results of the second survey.