Fort Dodge Community School District

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FDCSD Elementary Schedule Refocuses Time on Math and Literacy, Flexible Recess is Part of Change

August 20, 2019

August 19, 2019, Fort Dodge, IA-  Elementary students throughout the Fort Dodge Community School District will experience a renewed focus on literacy and math instruction this year.

Recently, the Iowa Department of Education changed the literacy and math standards for elementary schools.  To meet these new requirements, elementary students receive 90 minutes of literacy instruction and 60 minutes of math instruction daily.  

“Following the Department of Education’s change in standards, the district invested in new curriculum to help us meet the new requirements,” said Steph Anderson, Director of Elementary Education. “In order to implement the curriculum with consistency across the district, changes needed to be made to our daily schedule at some of our elementary schools.”

Students at Cooper Elementary and Feelhaver Elementary, as well as some students at Duncombe Elementary, will experience a change in the structure of recess this year.  Butler Elementary and some classrooms at Duncombe Elementary transitioned to this schedule over the past two years.

The elementary schedule guarantees one traditional recess per day for every student. In addition, it allows for approximately 25 “movement” minutes teachers can utilize how they see fit for their students. 

“Some teachers may take breaks throughout the day in smaller increments and others may elect for another traditional recess,” Ryan Flaherty, Duncombe Elementary Principal said. “Regardless, kids will move as their teacher sees fit based on how they are ‘reading their kids’ on a given day.”

This year’s recess structure provides teachers the flexibility to use their break time when and how the students need it.  Students will still participate in approximately 45 minutes of movement every day.  This is above the 30 minutes required by the Healthy Kids Act. 

“The change in our elementary school hours resulted in about 20 minutes less of instructional time with students,” Anderson said.  “Based on state designations and our goal to best prepare our students for successful futures, the time we have with kids needs to be focused on the core instruction of math and literacy.”

 “As school leaders, our job is to balance the developmental needs with the academic needs of every child in our schools,” said Flaherty. “We make decisions every day to achieve this balance to the best of our ability for all kids.  Prioritizing time for math and literacy while offering teachers flexibility in how they provide movement breaks for students is another example of us working to find an appropriate balance.”

Parents who have questions or concerns about this change in schedule should contact their child’s principal for more information.

The mission of the Fort Dodge Community School District is to provide quality learning experiences and build relationships that develop productive citizens ready for their futures. For more information about the Fort Dodge Community Schools visit or call 515.576.1161.  Our Schools. Our Community. Our Pride.


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