Summer's over for LAUSD schools on 'college-like’ calendar
It might be only the beginning of August, but students at three area high schools attended their first day of classes Friday, part of a new plan by the Los Angeles Unified School District to begin the school year weeks ahead of the typical September start.
The plan, first proposed last year, is designed to better prepare students for first-semester and end-of-the-year exams, officials said.
"There was a move to bring a more college-like atmosphere to the schools," said district spokeswoman Lydia Ramos.
Traditionally, the school year begins the Tuesday after Labor Day, which falls on Sept. 5 this year.
Proponents said the new schedule allows students to take end-of-semester exams before heading off to winter vacation. Under the old schedule, exams were taken after winter break at many schools, meaning students had to study during their vacation and ran the risk of forgetting the material they learned.
The change also allows students the time to learn more material before the end-of-the-year High School Exit Exam and Advanced Placement tests, and better coordinates with community college schedules for high school students taking enrichment classes.
Arleta, Sun Valley and Polytechnic high schools began Friday and will operate on a "balanced traditional calendar," with two semesters separated by a seven-week winter break that will allow struggling students to catch up on credits. The second semester will begin Feb. 3 and end June 22.
Seventeen other schools -– primarily high schools, but including Jaime Escalante Elementary -– will begin classes on Aug. 15 and have a three-week winter break, with the second semester starting Jan. 9 and ending June 1.
Ramos said there were no reports of an unusual number of absences at the schools that started classes Friday.
-- Kate Mather and Jason Song
Photo: Students at three LAUSD high schools will have to start hitting the books early as they began school again Friday. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times