Sustaining a Balanced Calendar in Hopewell City Public Schools

Cleveland Walton III, Virginia Commonwealth University
Elizabeth Baber, Virginia Commonwealth University
Brandon S. Petrosky, Virginia Commonwealth University
Taylor M. Snow, Virginia Commonwealth University


The publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983 directed public attention to the assertion that America’s students were falling behind their peers in other nations. Unlike the Cold War panic that emerged around student preparation relative to the Soviet Union, A Nation at Risk suggested that America was falling behind its democratic peers around the world. Since then, school quality and improvement efforts at the local, state, and federal level have trended toward increased accountability. Many states, including Virginia in 1995, responded to this report with the creation or modification of systems of accountability and accreditation rooted in standardized testing.

The advent of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2001 added to this effort through mandating testing in math, reading, science, and writing. This was an expansion of federal involvement in school accountability. This expansion included the requirement for disaggregation of testing data by specific student demographic subgroups to include race and socioeconomic status. While these changes brought unprecedented levels of oversight, they also drove important conversations around what academic outcomes schools should expect for their students and how they could ensure those outcomes were attainable for historically marginalized students. In the short term, these conversations served their intended goal of identifying academic achievement gaps. However, two decades after No Child Left Behind they have also helped highlight the importance of hitting lofty academic benchmarks while simultaneously preparing students for life after K-12 schooling. No area of schooling has gone untouched in this regard including the school calendar.