In the article "Blame testing for students' shorter summers" (Sept. 5, Local News) it would appear that the early start to the school year is for the benefit of the school.
Riverbank and Oakdale High Schools went to an early start date long before testing became an issue. The purpose was to benefit the students. When school started after Labor Day, the first semester ended two weeks after Christmas vacation. Exams were given after a two-week break. Now the semester ends and exams are taken before the break. This leads to better grades.
In addition, a number of families at RHS go to Mexico during the break and do not return immediately. In the past, they missed the exam or took it many weeks later. This led to a larger fail rate for these students. Now they take the exam before they leave. If time is missed in a class, it is better at the beginning, with time to get caught up than it is at the end with no slack.
Graduation at Riverbank High is May 22, 2008. If we start after Labor Day, it would be near June 13 or later.
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I have taught at Riverbank High for almost 30 years, and as far as I know, the school year has always been 180 student days. The difference then becomes how those days are arranged along with days off.
Early start benefits the students at Riverbank High; that's why we do it.