For the Record: Making a longer school year

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Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has proposed lengthening the school year by turning some or all of the 23 days children are not in school into instructional days for students.

He focused on professional development days–which teachers have said do little to help them improve their teaching.

A review of the 2011-2012 school calendar shows just eight professional development and planning days. Another four days are devoted to report-card pickup for parents. On two of those days, elementary students are not in school; on two days, high school students do not attend.

Adding these as instructional days would bring the school year to 180 days, the national average. The only way to add 23 instructional days would be to eliminate holidays and winter and spring breaks.

Although Brizard’s idea was touted as part of proposed “charter-style changes” to how schools operate, it also mirrors a statewide move just made in North Carolina. There, lawmakers just passed a bill adding five days to the school year by revoking a requirement for five teacher workdays per year. North Carolina students will now be required to attend school for 185 days.

Illinois’ required school year is 180 days, but waivers have brought the state’s average to 175 days.

Here’s how Chicago now stacks up against other large districts:

SCHOOL DISTRICT                INSTRUCTIONAL DAYS

Washington, D.C.                                196 

Fairfax Co., VA*                                     183

Baltimore                                               180

New York City                                        180

Philadelphia                                          180

Los Angeles                                          175

Dallas                                                     175

Denver                                                    170

Chicago                                                  170

*Fairfax County is outside Washington, D.C.

For more on school time and its impact on student learning, see the Winter 2010 issue of Catalyst In Depth.

Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has proposed lengthening the school year
by turning some or all of the 23 days children are not in school into
instructional days for students.

He focused on professional development days–which teachers have said do
little to help them improve their teaching.

A review of the 2011-2012 school calendar shows just eight
professional development and planning days. Another four days are devoted to report-card pickup for parents. On two
of those days, elementary students are not in school; on two days, high
school students do not attend.

Adding these as instructional days would bring the school year to 180
days, the national average. The only way to add 23 instructional days, as
proposed by the district would be to eliminate holidays and winter and spring breaks.

Although Brizard’s idea was touted as part of proposed
“charter-style changes” to how schools operate, it also mirrors a
statewide move just made in North Carolina. There, lawmakers just passed
a bill adding five days to the school year by revoking a requirement
for five teacher workdays per year. North Carolina students will now be
required to attend school for 185 days.

Illinois’ required school year is 180 days, but waivers have brought the state’s average to 175 days.

Here’s how Chicago now stacks up against other large districts:

SCHOOL DISTRICT                INSTRUCTIONAL DAYS

Washington, D.C.                                196

Fairfax Co., VA*                                     183

Chicago                                                 180

Baltimore                                               180

New York City                                        180

Philadelphia                                          180

Los Angeles                                          175

Dallas                                                     175

Denver                                                    170

Chicago                                                  170

*Fairfax County is outside Washington, D.C.

For more on school time and its impact on student learning, see the Winter 2010 issue of Catalyst In Depth.