Launch of Longer School Day Pioneers Project 

Mayor Emanuel and CEO Brizard Announce Longer School Day Initiative on the First Day of School

September 06, 2011

Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard today to ring in the new Track R school year at STEM Magnet School, one of three schools that voted last Friday to lengthen their school day to include 90 minutes of additional instructional time. Together, they invited all CPS elementary schools to participate in the newly created Longer School Day Pioneers Program, which will provide schools with the funding and support needed to voluntarily lengthen the shortest school day in the nation and bring it on par with other larger school districts and cities this school year. They were also joined today by parents of STEM students who support a longer school day.


The Longer School Day Pioneers Program will provide support to elementary schools that choose to serve as the first to lengthen their day to provide 90 minutes of additional instructional time this school year, which is well ahead of the district’s long-term strategy to extend the day and year citywide in the 2012/2013 school year in order to provide the instructional time needed to boost student achievement and ensure that students graduate college and career ready. In total, schools will add 105 minutes of time to the day for students and 40 minutes more to the day for teachers. Teachers will also receive 60 minutes every day for either prep time or collaboration time with other teachers.


"For far too long the system has been stacked against our children and our teachers from succeeding with the shortest school day and the shortest school year in the country," said Mayor Emanuel. "By supporting a longer school day the courageous and dedicated teachers and principals at Skinner North Elementary, Genevieve Melody Elementary and STEM Magnet Academy have taken a historic step forward in bringing the kind of change we need in the classroom to help our children get the world class education they deserve."


CPS will provide teachers at these pioneer elementary schools with a lump sum equal to 2 percent of the average teacher salary, while schools will receive financial assistance to help transition to a longer day to boost student achievement. These dollars can allow schools to purchase technology, intervention programs that help targeted academic needs or additional staffing positions used to provide students with enrichment classes including music, art, library and physical education – these positions will also provide teachers with additional time needed for collaboration and planning as a group. Schools that start in September will receive $150,000 and those that start in January will receive $75,000.


Teachers at STEM, a new K-3 magnet school focused on an intensive science, technology, engineering and math curriculum, made the choice to move to this longer school day schedule a full year ahead of the district’s proposed implementation. Teachers at two additional schools also voted last Friday to launch a longer school day this year: Melody Elementary School and Skinner North Classical School.


“A longer school day is a critical investment in both our students and our teachers, providing students with the quality instruction they need to succeed and offering our teachers the tools and time they need to plan, collaborate and teach to improve student achievement. We are very proud of the teachers and principals of these three pioneer schools that have taken the first step in providing our students with the additional time they need at school. We will support them at every level to ensure a smooth transition and hope that other schools will join them in becoming pioneers of a longer school day in Chicago,” Brizard said.


The collective bargaining agreement between the Chicago Teachers Union and CPS allows for teachers at each school to vote to adopt waivers in order to make changes to the contract, including the extending the school day, which may be approved by a 50% +1 majority of voting teachers at each school. Teachers at multiple CPS schools have voted and passed such waivers in the past.


"As we at STEM Magnet Academy embark on this new school year, the desire to provide our children with the best possible education we can offer pushed our staff to begin considering the benefits of an extended school day for our students,” Lindsay McGrane, Kindergarten teacher at STEM. “As we looked at the current daily schedules, many teachers - like teachers everywhere - were concerned that there was simply not enough time in the day to meet the needs of the diverse group of students that we will have in front of us. As a staff, we came to the conclusion that it was in the best interests of our students, and our new school, to provide additional instructional time for students, leading us to vote to add 90 minutes to our instructional day."


Under the longer day model, students will be in school for an average of 450 minutes per day, up from 345 minutes per day under the current closed campus model. The longer school day will include:


  • 105 additional minutes that will move the average elementary school schedule to an 8:00 a.m. start time and 3:30 p.m. dismissal, although schools will have the flexibility to set their exact schedule.
  • Students will receive 390 instructional minutes, a full 90 minutes of additional instructional time beyond the 300 minutes required by the Illinois State Board of Education. For schools which are currently closed campus, students will receive an additional 82 minutes of instruction.
  • Students will have 45 minutes of time off to recharge for lunch and recess. A maximum 15 minutes of passing periods and breaks.
  • Teachers receive 60 minutes every day of prep or collaboration time.


Although student school days may lengthen by up to 105 minutes, elementary school teachers will be in school 40 additional minutes per day, which raises the length of the teacher’s day from 420 in the open campus model to 460 minutes. In the closed campus model 40 minutes will be added to a teacher’s day and their lunch will be moved to the middle of the day from the end of the day.


A school day short on instructional time has contributed to stagnant academic growth among CPS students. More than 150,000 CPS students are currently attending underperforming schools and only 57% of students are graduating from high schools. Currently, CPS trails Illinois and other large urban districts in preparing students to meet the new Common Core State Standards benchmarks; in college readiness for reading, Chicago sits at 19%, compared to 46% for Illinois and 65% for other large districts and cities nationally. Only 7.9% of 11th graders were proficient on all four college readiness benchmarks according to the most recent Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE).


National research and experts all point to the correlation between a longer day and year and improved student performance in the classroom. Last week, CPS outlined several priority areas for the additional 90 minutes of instruction to ensure that core academic and enrichment instruction is provided:


  • Spend more time on core academic subjects including math, science and social studies.
  • Provide opportunities for students to work on literacy skills in all subject areas.
  • Broaden enrichment opportunities including physical education, art, music, and library time.
  • Give students an adequate mid-day lunch and recess period so that they can recharge.
  • Provide students with interventions and supports to help improve skills in math, science and core subjects.


Under the Longer School Day model, teacher schedules will change to include more time for collaboration between colleagues in order to share best practices and develop unified plans. Teachers will receive a 45-minute lunch each day and the closed campus option, allowing teachers to take lunch at the end of the school day, will be eliminated. Under the new model, teachers are ensured four 60-minute self-directed prep periods and one 60-minute principal-directed teacher collaboration period per week.


As part of CPS’ Back to School efforts, J’Marcus Webb of the Chicago Bears joined Mayor Emanuel and CEO Brizard to provide back packs with school supplies courtesy of University of Phoenix for every student attending STEM Magnet Academy.



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