Project LIFT’s $2 million-a-year experiment with a longer school calendar will come to an end next year after an internal study found no measurable benefits to giving students 19 extra days of class.
But four Project LIFT schools – Thomasboro, Druid Hills, Bruns and Byers preK-8 schools – will continue to have an alternative calendar that starts in July and has longer-than-usual fall and spring breaks.
It’s all part of a public-private partnership to boost achievement at West Charlotte High and its eight feeder schools. Project LIFT, or Leadership and Investment for Transformation, is in the fifth year of what was initially a five-year $55 million investment. The donor board has since agreed to stretch the money to cover a sixth year in 2017-18.
One focus of the project is paying for additional learning time, such as after-school and summer enrichment. The revised calendars debuted at the four schools in 2013, with Bruns and Byers keeping to the traditional 180 days and Thomasboro and Druid Hills getting the extra days. The effort launched with high hopes: If either the revised calendar or the extra days demonstrated benefits, officials talked about seeking public money to expand the effort.
But each annual review since has failed to find measurable benefits. Research for Action, an independent firm under contract with Project LIFT, has compared performance at the year-round schools with that of disadvantaged students at other CMS schools, finding no clear advantage.
LIFT officials say they launched the year-round calendars at the schools with the biggest challenges, and they still hope the revised schedule can prevent slippage of skills during a long summer break. But the 2017-18 calendar up for school board approval Tuesday eliminates the extra days.
That means employees at Thomasboro and Druid Hills will no longer have to work more days than counterparts at other CMS schools – or be paid for the additional time. Employees have been notified of the change.