Full School Day High School Guidelines to Provide Students with More Instructional Time 

Guidelines Part of Year-Long Planning Process to Prepare for Launch of Full School Day for All CPS Students in Fall 2012


December 22, 2011


Chicago Public School officials released today preliminary guidelines for high schools to assist schools in planning for implementation of a Full School Day at the start of the 2012-13 school year. The District will be moving to a 7.5 hour school day across both high school and elementary schools next year to ensure that students receive the quality instruction they need to graduate college and career ready.


A Full School Day will help the District provide the tools needed to help boost student achievement during a time when students across CPS are struggling. More than 120,000 students are in underperforming schools throughout the district, representing nearly one-third of all seats in CPS. In 2011, only 7.9 percent of all 11th graders tested college ready, while the graduation rate stands at 57.5 percent. Achievement gaps for African American and Latino students have steadily wid­ened over the last 20 years in Chicago.


To address these challenges, the District has committed to ending one of the shortest school days in the nation and moving to a 7.5 hour school day—across both high school and elementary schools next year.  With a 7.5 hour school day, students will receive the time they need with teachers in the classroom to deepen their understanding of core subjects such as math, reading and science, receive much-needed individualized instruction, and get exposure to additional enrichment opportunities.


“Our students cannot afford to wait another day to access the high quality education they deserve. That’s why we have launched an intensive planning process to ensure all schools are ready to implement a more rigorous curriculum focused on college and career readiness when the Full School Day schedule begins next fall,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.


To ensure schools fully engage their communities and staff members in the process of redesigning their school day and preparing for implementation, the District recently launched a year-long planning process.  This process has been divided into five distinct phases to ensure schools receive the proper tools and supports needed during this time. These include:


  • Schools convene a Full School Day Planning Team (November).
  • Every school creates an ideal student schedule (December-January).
  • Each school creates a draft a master schedule (January-February).
  • Schools refine the plan based on feedback from the community and district to best maximize their time (February-March).
  • Full day plans are finalized and implementation begins (April-May).


For each phase, schools will receive trainings, webinars, tools, and other supports that have been designed in partnership with the National Center for Time and Learning.  These tools and supports will be continually refined based on feedback from schools.


To ensure schools redesign a full day that best meets the needs of their unique student body, CPS has created a set of broad Full Day Guidelines. These parameters were created with significant input from the Full Day Community Advisory Committee, which includes numerous community organizations throughout Chicago representing multiple stakeholders including: parents, community leaders, elected officials, faith leaders, teachers, principals and students who regularly meet to help shape the District’s implementation of the Full Day initiative. 


In High Schools, the Full School Day guidelines are as follows:


  • Students will be in school for 7 hours and 30 minutes (450 minutes) each day, which is an increase of 36 minutes. 
  • Students would receive an additional 46 minutes of direct instruction, which can be accomplished by increasing the day by 36 minutes, eliminating the current 14 minute homeroom, and providing a four minute entry period.
  • Teachers would be onsite for 7 hours and 40 minutes (460 minutes), an increase of 39 minutes.  During that time, they will provide instruction for 4 hours and 36 minutes (276 minutes), an increase of 32 minutes.


CPS is releasing the guidelines to high schools this week to provide them with ample time to plan for the Full Day and help assist them in developing new schedules. As schools redesign their school day based on the guidelines above, they are encouraged to engage teachers, students, parents, and communities to better understand the needs of students.  


Utilizing these guidelines and community input, schools will be asked to redesign the school day to meet the needs of their unique student body.  Specifically, high schools will be asked to utilize the Full School Day to:


  • Deepen student’s understanding of core academics by aligning coursework with the Common Core State Standards for college readiness in math and literacy.
  • Continue to build in time for teachers to collaborate and develop strong learning environments that best meet individual student needs.
  • Deepen knowledge through more time on-task in core academic subjects including science and social studies.
  • Provide students with a rigorous college preparatory curriculum.
  • Broaden college and career opportunities through dual-credit college enrollment and internships.
  • Provide students with individualized interventions to help improve skills in core subjects, offer behavioral interventions and provide supplemental work for gifted students.
  • Broaden enrichment opportunities including physical education, art, music and library technology.


In addition to these guidelines, high schools will also be provided with best practices, tools, and other resources that will help them translate community inputs, school-wide goals, and student perspectives into a redesigned school day that meets the needs of their diverse student population.  The CPS Office of Instruction will also be working with schools to assist staff in planning the transition to a full day.


The District released preliminary guidelines for elementary schools earlier this fall as part of the launch of the Pioneer Program.


About CPS

Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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