Update — 1/29, 10:40 a.m.: Testing will occur over eight days, not nine, as originally reported, according to Kim Westcott, administrative assistant at Darien High School. The extra day designated in case of delays on Friday, March 8 is now scheduled as a regular school day. The article has been changed to reflect the update.
Sophomores will spend less time per day, but more days, taking state-mandated exams this March.
The decision to move the schedule from five to eight days was to concentrate on one exam per day according to school administration.
Darien High School usually gives the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT), a state exam that evaluates reading, writing, math and science knowledge, over five days. This means students sat through two tests ranging from 60 to 90 minutes each with a ten minute break in between. Testing began at 7:40 a.m. but classes started at different times each day because of the varied exam lengths.
Administrators decided that having one exam per day, with classes on a 90-minute delay for all grades, would create a consistent schedule and save students’ attention spans, said Matt Byrnes, assistant superintendent of secondary education, at a recent Board of Education meeting.
Tenth graders will take the CAPT from Monday, March 4 to Thursday, March 7, and Monday, March 11 to Thursday, March 14. The state Department of Education requires March 5, 6 and 7 of this year as testing days, though the testing window is between March 1 and 28.
With the new schedule, classes would begin at 9:10 or 9:16 a.m. depending on whether students would need a longer break or not. Testing will still begin at 7:40 a.m. for sophomores, and juniors who are retaking the CAPT.
The administration originally presented a nine-day schedule, with one Friday serving as a backup in case of emergencies or delays. They recently decided that testing will occur over eight days, not nine, according to Kim Westcott, former board chairman and administrative assistant at Darien High School. The extra day, Friday, March 8 is now scheduled as a regular school day.
The administration discussed the new schedule with students, teachers and parents, Byrnes said, but made the ultimate decision “in the best interest of kids.” The new schedule will be similar to other DRG A schools, he said.
Byrnes also noted that school buses would work on a normal pick-up schedule. The 90-minute delay will be used for professional days, advanced placement prep, practice CAPT for ninth graders, and possibly workshops from the guidance department, Byrnes said in his report to the board. School facilities will be available to students just like regular professional days, he said.
The district and Parent Teacher Organizations will share the change with parents ahead of the March exams, said Betsy Hagerty-Ross, board chairman.