School starting too early? Officials say state testing determines calendar


Summer break is winding down and districts across the region are returning to school next week.

An early August start date has some parents wondering why the school start date seems to creep back each year.

Kingsport City Schools Assistant Superintendent Andy True said that Kingsport Schools have almost always taken a 10 to 11-week summer vacation. The start date for schools is earlier than it used to be, he said, but that’s because of state testing.

The state mandates 180 days of instructional time and a two-week window for testing, he said, usually at the End of April or beginning of May. True said when he makes the annual calendar one of his goals is to give students as much instructional time as possible before state testing.

“That way, students have the best chance to be successful and for staff accountability as well, it’s best to have as much instructional time before those testing windows hit,” True said.

He said Kingsport also elects to stretch the school day by 30 minutes in order to bank 13 “extra” school days that can be used for several purposes, including inclement weather and professional development days.

When he builds a calendar, True said he looks at winter break and then builds two equal semesters on either side of it.

“What that does is it generally, in a normal calendar year, it will allow us to start school the first week of August and wrap up by the time Memorial Day hits,” True explained.

Even though it may seem to some that summers are shorter, True said starting in August usually gets students out of school before June.

“People do remember when we were kids, we most likely had a later start date,” he said. “Again, some of that was before the accountability models went into play where you have those defined testing windows that had to happen at a certain period of time.”

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