October 7, 2011
Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard met with Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) today at Skinner North Classical Elementary School to discuss with parents and teachers their implementation of a 90-minute longer school day, as part of the Longer School Day Pioneer Program. They also discussed the value of longer school days in boosting student achievement.
Sen. Bennet, a national leader in education reform and a former superintendent of the Denver Public Schools (DPS), recently co-sponsored the Improving Student Achievement and Engagement through Expanded Learning Act, S.1311. This bill would allow districts like CPS to use their federal 21st Century Learning Center funding for extended learning time rather than solely for after-school activities.
CPS recently launched the Longer School Day Pioneer Program, which supports schools implementing 90 additional minutes of instruction each day. The CPS longer school day focuses on adding core instruction such as math, science and literacy as well as enrichment learning and an adequate recess and lunch break. This year,13 CPS schools have begun or will launch a longer school day. The district plans to implement the additional learning at all of its schools in the 2012-13 school year.
“We know that our students need additional instruction time in front of a teacher in core subjects like reading, math and science as well as enrichment in art, music and PE in order to increase student achievement,” Brizard said. “Senators Bennet and Kirk are demonstrating that there’s broad, bipartisan support across the nation for longer school days. Chicago students already receive 15 percent less instructional time than students in other large cities – if we don’t act now to implement a longer day, our students will fall even farther behind.”
Sens. Kirk and Bennet met with Brizard, teachers and parents to discuss how additional learning time can be used to increase student achievement. Bennet’s reform efforts in Denver have resulted in a 42 percent decline in the DPS dropout rate over five years and a 29 percent increase in college enrollment between 2006-2010.
“In Colonial America, people had the sense to organize the school day around when kids needed to be in the field. In industrial America, people had the sense to organize the school day around factory time. Those days are gone,” Bennet said. “As we work to organize the school day for the 21st century, teachers, parents and principals should all be part of the conversation.”
CPS has a school day shorter than other major school districts nationwide, which has contributed to stagnant academic growth for CPS students. Today, more than 150,000 CPS students are attending underperforming schools and only 57% of students are graduating from high school. In addition, last year only 31% of 8th graders were at or above the college readiness benchmarks in reading and only 7.9% of high school juniors met college readiness benchmarks on the state PSAE tests.
Skinner North, 640 W. Scott Street, is one of 13 CPS schools which joined the Longer School Day Pioneer Program in order to add 90 more minutes of instruction every day this school year and serve as a model for the district’s plan to lengthen the school day for all CPS students beginning in the 2012-13 school year. Skinner North’s new schedule will add 15 minutes to math instruction,15 minutes to language arts instruction,45 minutes to enrichment in such areas as World Language, Computer Education, Spanish, and Arts Integration and will add 20 minutes each day to special classes (ie. gym, art, music)
Currently, CPS is preparing the district for system wide implementation of a longer school day and year in school year 2012-2013. CPS is taking this time to develop a strategic plan to properly prepare every school in the district. CPS has created a longer school day advisory committee consisting of a diverse group of education stakeholders representing parents, teachers, students, principals, and faith and community leaders from throughout the city who will help shape the guidelines that schools will follow in adding 90 minutes of instructional time to their day. CPS is also conducting webinars with principals and soliciting feedback from teachers and focus groups to include their input on the front end of this process. The longer school day pioneer schools will also provide critical feedback and guidance on everything from best practices to the financial needs and other resources schools will need when implementing the longer day next school year.
The priorities outlined in a CPS longer school day include:
- Spending more time on core academic subjects including math, science and social studies.
- Providing opportunities for students to work on literacy skills in all subject areas.
- Broadening enrichment opportunities including physical education, art, music, and library time.
- Giving students an adequate mid-day lunch and recess period so that they can recharge.
- Providing students with interventions and supports to help improve skills in math, science and core subjects.
- Additional time for teachers to collaborate in groups to develop strong learning environments for their schools.
For more information on the CPS Longer School Day Pioneer Program please visit the Longer School Day Pioneer Program Page.
Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.