Mrs. Chase Proposes to Extend Academic Year by 10 Days

Andover students enjoy one of the shortest school years of any boarding school, but under a calendar change proposed by Head of School Barbara Landis Chase, this could soon end. During this summer’s Pace of Life Committee meeting, faculty members were forewarned about plans to lengthen the school year by 10 days. These extra school days will come from shortening the winter and summer breaks. In the proposed calendar, school would reconvene right after Labor Day and the winter holidays would be pushed back a week. “I think she [Mrs. Chase] is dead-set on the 10 extra days of classes, but the debate is still going on as to the way we’ll do it,” said Instructor in Mathematics Michael McHugh. Because Andover holds Saturday classes only six times a year, the Academy has considerably fewer days of classes than most of its peer schools. A recent study conducted by Assistant Dean of Studies Betsy Korn concluded that Andover offsets this paucity of classtime by assigning more homework. The faculty is considering two possible plans for incorporating extra class days into the academic calendar. One plan under consideration involves the addition of a “fourth term” in the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations. During this term, students would take only two courses: one “major” and one “minor.” The major class would meet for two-and-a-half hours a day and the minor for 45 minutes. In this plan, the major class would accomplish in three or four weeks what a regular class does in a term, while the minor would be a half-course graded on a pass-fail scale. This is similar to the daily schedule at Northfield Mount Hermon. The second proposed plan would follow Choate’s example and split winter term. In this plan, fall term exams would take place before Thanksgiving and be followed by two or three weeks of classes after Thanksgiving break. Winter term would then continue after Christmas vacation. The second portion of winter term would have the same length and structure as Andover’s current winter term. This plan would create three terms of approximately equal length, while currently fall term is two weeks longer than winter and spring terms. Instructor in English Mary Fulton said of the second plan, “I’m reasonably happy about it. Some departments, especially math, need terms that are the same length, and I kind of like ending fall term at Thanksgiving break.” If the school year is extended, it will be the second major calendar change in two years. Last year, the administration reduced Thanksgiving break from 10 days to six to gain two more days of classes. The proposed calendar changes will be outlined in more detail at an upcoming faculty meeting. Any major changes to the academic calendar would need to be approved by the Board of Trustees before taking effect.