Middle school ‘I-Days’ explained

Some students have extra time to finish coursework, others stay home

At least one parent of a Sooke School District (SD62) student thinks the current “I-Days” system in the region’s middle schools needs re-examining.

“I-Days” is a three-day period after classes are over – but before final report cards are issued – during which students who have fallen behind or need to do extra work to pass a course or grade, are given an opportunity to do that work.

This year those days are June 22 to 24.

Students who have completed their work can stay home those days, or find other activities, but those with an “I” on their report card are expected to attend and finish their assignments.

“’I’ as a letter grade means ‘In Progress,’” said Sooke School District superintendent Jim Cambridge. “It means you haven’t failed, but that you have things you need to complete. This time gives those students who need a bit more time the opportunity to get all their work done.”

Lara Allsopp enquired recently as to what her daughter would be doing for the week leading up to report cards, not knowing about “I-Days,” and was told to keep her home as she wouldn’t be needing the extra time to complete her work. This left her scrambling for a child care solution and prompted a call to the SD62 office.

Cambridge said that although the expectation is that only students who need the extra time to finish their work will attend school that week, exceptions can be made in special cases.

“If it’s a child care issue,” Cambridge said, “as it seems to be in this case, we will definitely make arrangements for parents to be able to leave their children at the school. That’s not an issue at all.”

That wasn’t communicated to Allsopp by the school itself, she said.

“I was told by my principal that my daughter was not to attend school those days,” Allsopp said, after receiving this information from Cambridge. She had already found and paid for other accommodations for her daughter by the time she received the response from Cambridge.

She feels the system needs to be looked at, and, at the very least, if the current system is the best way to do it, better communication is needed.

“To be honest, I haven’t heard any other complaints,” Cambridge said, “but if it’s something we need to review, we’ll certainly do that.” He added that it will be added to the next principals’ meeting agenda, since a complaint has been received.

Allsopp’s other concern is whether these days come out of the allotted instructional days that are mandated by the provincial government.

“School District 61 (Victoria) and 63 (Saanich) have middle school students attend for the entire days listed and identified in the district calendar,” she said.

“I am concerned that all middle school children in SD62 are not being provided the same required number of instructional hours/days outlined in the School Calendar Act (and) identified in the SD62 district calendar and that are provided to other middle school students,” she said.

“I also have sympathy for losing instructional time, and that’s something we’re going to be taking a very careful look at as we go forward,” Cambridge said, adding that it’s very difficult to match schedules with other districts in terms of things like professional development and in-service days, as well as other breaks.

“I wish the government would just mandate it so it’s the same for everyone, instead of (individual districts) always having to move things around so people are off at the same time. We’ve managed to (co-ordinate) spring break with other districts, now, but the rest of it is a constantly-moving target.”

While it’s up to each individual school to ensure that parents know what’s going on in terms of attendance expectations, Cambridge said, the district will look at ways how that can be better accomplished.

mdavies@goldstreamgazette.com

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