Prince George’s Students Holiday Break Included ‘Optional’ Homework

While Prince George’s County school administrators call the Dec. 23-Jan. 1 gap the Winter Break, what they really mean is “Testing is Coming! Get Ready!”

Before classes were dismissed two days before Christmas, each student—elementary, middle and high school– received a “Winter Break Homework Packet” to be completed by the time classes resume Jan. 2.

The packets contained exercises and suggested scrutiny for reading, math, English, language arts, science, social studies, algebra, and biology.

In a letter to parents, Chief Academic Officer Allan D. Arbogast said the idea is
“ensure that all children achieve their maximum potential as they strive to become future leaders and college and career ready.”

Although optional, he said, the suggested work is to reinforce “academic potential.”

However, if the packets are completed and turned in, the students can receive feedback from their teachers. In addition, teachers may provide further information regarding credit for the work done.

School officials explained that one of the primary objectives of the winter packets to is help third through eighth graders prepare for the reading and math segments of the Maryland School Assessments (MSA) in March 2014, and for the science segment to be administered in the spring of 2014.

In addition, students who are currently enrolled in classes in local, state, and national government, biology, reading/English language arts (R/ELA), algebra I or algebra/data analysis, will take the High School Assessments (HSAs) in the spring of 2014.

“Improvement on MSA and HSA scores are only a reflection of what our students can achieve,” Arbogast wrote in his letter to the parents. “Please be assured that the core goal of all required assignments is to strengthen your child’s ability to achieve through applying skills and processes that have been taught.”

“The purpose of the winter break packet is to review first and second skills to help students determine their strengths and weaknesses,” Riverdale Elementary professional school counselor Jacqueline Jacobs told the AFRO. “It also creates a connection between parent and child. The common core curriculum’s purpose is to develop college- and career-ready students so they can compete globally. Therefore, students need to continue to work on and develop their skills.”

The packets, posted on the Prince George’s County Public School website at, also contain guidance for students and parents on how to complete the packets throughout the break.

The answer keys for the packets will be posted online after Jan. 3.

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Prince George's Students Holiday Break Included 'Optional' Homework


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