Quaker Valley officials say instructional hours exceed state mandate
In all grade levels, Quaker Valley students are offered instructional time that far exceeds the state requirement, district officials said.
“You always hear about 180 days … well, it is true you have to have 180 days — sort of,” Superintendent Joseph Clapper said. “A lot of times people, don't have a real grasp of what the requirements are related to instruction.”
Based on the 2012-13 school year, Quaker Valley students in grades nine through 11 attended class for nearly 1,065 hours. Seniors attended class for about 1,049 hours. The state Department of Education requires 990 instructional hours for high school students.
Students in grades seven and eight attended class for 1,063 hours, with 990 hours required.
Students in grades one through five attended class for about 1,036 hours. Sixth-grade students attended class for 1,052 hours. The state requires 900 instructional hours for grades one through six.
By comparison, Moon Area High School students attended class for 1,035 hours, spokeswoman Megan Edwards said.
At Seneca Valley, students in grades nine through 11 attend class for about 1,035 hours, district spokeswoman Linda Andreassi said.
What makes counting instructional time unique is the minutes that count, Clapper said.
“You can't calculate passing time between periods,” he said. “At the elementary school level, you have to back out recess because that's not instructional time.
“It's bona fide instruction.”
Lunch also does not count.
Nonweather-related early dismissals, transportation of students and celebrations are among other items state officials do not permit to be counted toward instructional hours, according to the Department of Education website.
Counting instructional time not only is important for education, but it could jeopardize funding, Clapper said.
“If you don't reach [the required hours], you're penalized financially by the [Department of Education],” he said. “So, what little money we do get from the [Department of Education], they would take away from us — not a lot, but some.”
Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.