Fairbanks examines time at school devoted to academic study

Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2003

FAIRBANKS - Recess, assemblies, getting settled in the morning: School is full of things that aren't academic.

Using data gathered this semester, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District aims to find out just how much time during the school year is spent on instruction and how much is spent on everything else.

The district's school year is extremely short, said Superintendent Ann Shortt, especially when you subtract time lost to events like testing, staff in-service days and parent-teacher conferences.

Short told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner she hopes the study will identify ways to maximize the amount of time students are engaged in learning.

A committee heading up the study will define what will count as instructional time and what will not. The district will place trained observers or video cameras in randomly selected classes throughout the district this year.

Fairbanks Education Association President Mary Cofer praised the premise of the study. She added a little advice as well.

"I hope in this process that the observers will also note the time spent, especially by elementary teachers, on discipline," Cofer said. "Behavior in some years for me has taken up a good bit of my time."

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