Chicago Public School officials on Tuesday announced plans to extend the school day by an additional 90 minutes and two weeks, one day after contract talks with the teachers' union fell apart.
CPS said the move is being made to provide the critical instructional time needed to boost student achievement and ensure students graduate college and career-ready.
CPS will implement a strategy to extend the day and year for the 2012-2013 school year beginning this fall.
The news about longer school days came as 500 teachers union delegates gathered for an update on their contract status Tuesday. One of the key issues was the school board's decision to rescind a planned 4 percent raise, but another sticking point was those longer school days.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said a good sign was that the board's announcement regarding longer school days deals with next year, instead of this year. She also said the delegates are serious about a possible strike.
“They're not happy. Let’s just put it that way. They're not happy. They would like to see different responses. They want a little bit more respect and dignity, and there are only a couple of ways to get that,” Lewis said.
Lewis said the union delegates would take the information from Tuesday's session back to their schools to get feedback from more teachers.
In a change of position, Brizard did signal he would consider giving teachers a 2 percent increase if they would agree to a longer school day.
A key component of a CPS longer school day will include instruction that incorporates the new Common Core State Standards, which will become the academic standard across Chicago in the 2012-2013 school year, a release from CPS said. As a result, students will be provided with more time on task in reading, writing, math, science and social studies.
CPS also says the 90-minute day will also provide more time for teachers to work collaboratively in groups to meet individual student needs and share best practices in order to drive student achievement.
“Having the shortest school day in the nation puts teachers and students at a disadvantage and it’s time that we provided both with the tools they need to drive student success in the classroom,” CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said. “A longer day will give our teachers the time they need to better prepare our students for college and career readiness and allow them to plan as a group in order to benefit all of their students.”
The priorities outlined in a CPS longer day will include:
CPS will be engaging key stakeholders to help determine how the additional minutes are used within the school day. CPS has begun an Longer School Day Advisory Committee, comprised of key stakeholders that will provide guidance about an extended day structure and the implementation strategy schools can adopt in transitioning toward a longer day. They will also work to highlight potential challenges schools may face and work to develop solutions.
Parent focus groups will also provide an opportunity for parents to voice their opinions on what types of instruction would benefit their children. CPS will begin training schools for longer school days starting as early as this September.
The district will require schools to use a portion of additional minutes on learning in core subject areas, which are critical for preparing students for college and the workplace. A 2005 Mass2020 study showed that who attend Extended Learning Time schools saw impressive gains in math, reading, and science compared with their peers. Additionally, a higher proportion of teachers in those schools report that they are satisfied with the amount of time available for instruction. (“Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time Initiative 2010-11 Update
“Studies show that whether we add time to reading, math and science classes or provide students with individual instruction in these areas, the more time students spend on task, the more they understand, learn and grow academically,” Brizard said.
In addition, the CPS extended school day will have time built into it for teacher planning and collaboration. Studies show that through teacher collaboration, schools are able to build strong professional learning communities that support students across subject areas and improve academic growth.
Schools in Chicago have already used additional instruction and increased teacher collaboration time to effectively improve student academic success and prepare students for college. At Chicago’s Noble Street Charter Network, the day runs 105 minutes longer than a typical CPS school and, among CPS open-enrollment schools, Noble Street schools ranked first and second in 2010 student ACT scores.
Similarly, Urban Prep Academy’s Englewood campus seniors spent 72,000 more minutes in the classroom than their peers in traditional CPS schools. Every member of the Urban Prep first and second graduating classes has gained admission to a four-year college.
“We are looking at leaders both locally and nationally that will help us determine what works and how we can best spend these additional minutes to have the maximum benefit for our students. We know that we must add quality instructional time to the day in order to make an impact and move our students down the path toward college and career success,” Brizard added.
As part of his continuing schedule of school visits, Brizard and Advisory Committee members will visit schools with longer school days to observe practices for implementing additional learning time and scheduling longer school day instruction. Brizard will also host webinars and online town halls to garner input and feedback from teachers and principals in the coming weeks and months.
The Chicago School Board will meet Wednesday to vote on the CPS budget.