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* 183Baltimore 180New York City 180Philadelphia 180Los Angeles 175Dallas 175Denver 170Chicago 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.