Adding Days to School Year Proposed in Legislature to Reduce Learning Loss


Students should spend more time in school and less time on break so they retain the learning they acquire during the school year.

That’s the opinion of Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, who introduced a bill in the state Legislature that adds five days to the school calendar.

“SB 5505 takes swift and decisive action to support learning recovery with a simple solution — providing our students with additional access to their teachers, their peers, and to dedicated support staff,” Hawkins said.

Under current law, schools are required to offer a minimum of 180 school days. 

Hawkins’ bill bumps that minimum to 185 days for K-12 students.

And, Hawkins said, he would like to see additional reform in the future.

“If we adopted a more balanced school calendar, spreading those 180 days or even 185 days over 10 months, the students that come in as kindergarteners, by the time they leave as high school graduates, would be much better prepared for success in our global economy,” he said.

The much-loved summer break for students and teachers was first implemented more than a century ago so children could work on the family farm during summer months.

But that agrarian calendar causes children to experience a summer slide and annual learning loss, even before the pandemic, Hawkins said. 

“I would love to see, ultimately, a model where we have approximately 200 state funded days in the school year,” Hawkins said. “I think we have massive learning loss that justifies something along those lines to catch these students up.”

Learning loss increased during the pandemic because students spent less time in class, said Tyler Muench, director of advocacy and student affairs for the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s office.

Student achievement dropped in math and English during the pandemic, but test scores rose from the fall of 2021 to the spring of 2022, Muench said. 

Jeannie Magdua, a founding member of Conservative Ladies of Washington, said she doesn't think adding additional days onto the school year will help with learning loss children experienced after having their lives disrupted by the pandemic. 

“It’s too general and doesn't seek to find out exactly what each student needs to regain the learning that was lost,” Magdua said. “It would be better, I think, to create a fund that parents could access to hire private tutors to help their children catch up with the learning that was denied them during the shutdown.”

Hawkins said he has two children in the K-12 system. Teachers in his district said there are students who are up to four years behind grade level, he said. 

“They are middle school, junior high teachers, and they really need a curriculum for elementary math,” Hawkins said. “That’s how significant of a problem we have.”


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  • vonwendelj

    There are some serious flaws with the proposed SB 5505.

    1. Are there provisions in the bill to compensate school district employees who will be working another 5 days or are they just going to work for free? I doubt Sen. Brad Hawkins has considered this prior to his proposing the bill.

    2. School could be 300 days a year and it would not stop learning loss until there was accountability for students missing as many days as they currently miss. Some students are missing a third of the school year currently. Some are excused for doctor or dentist appointments, some for being sick and yes some miss random weeks at a time for family events. Just because the number of days is extended doesn't mean students will be in class more.

    3 Having random breaks throughout the year sounds like a good idea, but it penalizes those high school and middle school students who are involved with sports and clubs that have "seasons". If we take 2 weeks off in October, that sounds great, but the football, volleyball and cross country teams are still going to need to be practicing and having games. If we take 2 weeks off in February, the same things except it is the boys & girls basketball and boys & girls wrestling participants that miss out on their "vacation" time.

    I'll stop at three but there are many other issues and concerns with Sen. Brad Hawkins proposed bill. Learning loss is not caused by one factor, not being in school!!!

    Wednesday, February 8 Report this