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Dallas ISD Has 3 School Calendars This Year. Why?

Photo of the outside of Pinkston High School in Dallas. The school's electronic sign reads Let's make it a great day.
Keren Carrión
Dallas ISD has three academic calendars this year to try and address learning loss as a result of the pandemic.

Five Dallas ISD schools had their first day of classes Monday, while 41 campuses begin next week, and the remaining 184 begin Aug. 16. It’s all a part of DISD’s approach to reshape the traditional school year.

The Dallas Independent School District has three academic calendars this year as it returns to in-person learning for everyone.

This revised approach to instruction comes in response to the learning gaps Dallas ISD noticed as a result of the pandemic.

“We realized that we needed to do something different and something bold,” Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said.

Here’s a closer look at the three calendars:

Calendar 1: A Longer School Year

The first calendar, the School Day Redesign Calendar, went into effect Aug. 2. It gives students and teachers a longer school year, with classes taking place for about 200 days, compared to the traditional 180. School will be in session until June 23.

The calendar applies to five schools — Maple Lawn Elementary School, H.I. Holland Elementary School at Lisbon, Edna Rowe Elementary School, Thomas J. Rusk Middle School and Boude Storey Middle School.

“They can have a lot more enrichment and a lot more fun,” Hinojosa said. “You still cover the same material, but you have ... a lot more time to get it all done. And especially the students that are furthest behind, you can really focus on them.”

Calendar 2: Weeks For Accelerated Learning

The second calendar, the Intersession Calendar, begins Aug. 9 and ends June 23. It features five weeks of accelerated learning, followed by one week for students to catch up and recuperate.

Teachers will still be at school during that catch-up week, but students will have the opportunity to come to school and ask questions, as well as get more personalized help with their questions. The district says 41 schools are on that schedule.

Calendar 3: A Traditional School Year

The third calendar is the traditional academic calendar, known as the Base Calendar.

Most of the district's 230 schools will be on the traditional calendar. For those schools, the first day of school is Aug. 16. The school year will end May 27.

‘A Research Project Done In Real Time’

Dallas ISD said more than 10,000 parents, teachers and community members responded to a survey asking for input on the calendars.

“Command decisions are easy to make and hard to implement. And consensus decisions are messy, they take a long time, but people can buy into it,” Hinojosa said. “So therefore, we weren't going to mandate that all 225 schools go to this type of non-traditional calendar. We had to get 80% of the parents and 80% of the staff to agree to start early and have these non-traditional calendars.”

While the approach is new and unique, Hinojosa is excited for how it will play out.

“I think it's really going to be interesting to watch this,” he said. “It's gonna be a research project done in real time. ... I'm really very proud of the teachers and principals and parents who chose to do these non-traditional solutions.”

Got a tip? Email Haya at Follow Haya on Twitter @hayapanjw.

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Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter for KUT. She also served as a legislative fellow for The Texas Newsroom during the 2021 legislative session.