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10 Days Off

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Students who do well on the TAKS test, may spend less time in the classroom thanks to a bill passed last year.

But confusion over the bill delayed schools from actually implementing the idea, until now.

In a classroom of 20 students, each learns in a unique way.

And while some may be at the head of the class, others need more time and attention.

That's the reason Senate Bill 346 was passed last year.

The bill allows schools to give students 10 days off from school if they pass or are likely to pass the TAKS test.

A student who isn't expected to do well on the test will go to school for more individualized instruction.

"That flexibility could be used at the beginning of the school year, at the end and all at no cost to the school district," says State Senator Steve Ogden who authored the bill.

The bill has been in effect for a year, but the Texas Education Agency's interpretation actually penalized schools financially if they implemented it.

Now, the TEA tells schools there will be no financial consequences if they choose to give students 10 days off.

College Station ISD's Deputy Superintendent Eddie Coulson says the district has put together a committee to look into the options of a flexible school year.

"The reason we haven't done anything outside of our district was because of the uncertainty of how it would impact the students and us financially," says Coulson.

Administrators support the bill, but just have questions about how to implement it.

"One of the things we always ask for is to be creative and innovative, and this does that but it is problematic," says Coulson.

Some critics say the plan is proof that Texas schools merely teach to the test. Ogden disagrees.

"All it is, is evidence that school districts should have more flexibility to help those students who are going to flunk, or cannot pass the TAKS test," says Ogden.

"You can't change the world in ten days, but it could make a difference," says Coulson.

If College Station ISD may choose to implement the plan as soon as the 2006-2007 school year.