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Boise School District makes calendar change, holds finals week before Christmas break

Posted at 5:48 PM, Jan 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-17 19:48:37-05

BOISE — Today marked the start of finals week for many school districts across the state, but not for Idaho's second-largest school district.

The Boise School District made a big change in their calendar for this school year, to hold finals week before Christmas break, and while they're not the first district to try a system like this, with positive feedback from teachers and parents it begs the question, will other districts follow suit?

Lilly Gwin, a senior student at Boise High School is very happy with the change, "I did the best I've ever done on finals this year," said Gwin.

Final grades are going in one direction for Lilly, up, a trend that seems to be reflected across the board at Boise High School.

Ryan Williams, a teacher at Boise High School, said he sees those increases, "Mine just look a little bit better, it wasn't a dramatic shift in the semester test scores, but I saw a 2-3% increase," said Williams.

And test scores aren't the only things getting a boost, "The mental break, it was like a restart, and I gotta enjoy my time off and I didn't have to worry about anything school-wise," said Gwin.

Which helped build motivation over the Christmas break for students and teachers.

"I felt it too as a teacher, I really enjoyed it, had grades in and was thinking about starting a new semester," said Williams.

Then he could focus on that instead of refreshing minds of students in preparation for a finals week after the new year.

"I think it's just cause it's way more fresh on your mind cause over break I ski and stuff and I don't think about school," said Gwin.

And with the second largest school district in the state moving to a calendar like this, without implementing an earlier start date for the school year, could this be in the future for other districts?

"We actually looked at that, and it's a little bit behind the idea of, then kids don't have to come back after the break and then you go to school a couple weeks and the finals start," said Eric Exline, Spokesman for the West Ada School District.

But for West Ada, the challenges outweighed the benefits. Exline said it created an unbalanced semester, so the district contemplated a shortened Thanksgiving break, "Or we had to push the start of school back to somewhere near the end of the first week of August," said Exline.

Which they were fearful would create problems for sports and for family activities.

While a school calendar like this isn’t on the radar for West Ada School District, they do plan to have a discussion with Boise School District at the end of the school year.