2009 Chicago Schools Policy Luncheon Series: How can more time ignite change?

November 19, 2009

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2009 Chicago Schools Policy Luncheon Series
More time for learning: necessity or tangent?

Statement:

Jeffrey Riley, former principal of one of the highest performing extended learning time schools in Massachusetts, will explain how his school used time as a lever for reform, the results and the roadblocks. He now oversees Boston's middle schools as they participate in the Extended Learning Time Initiative.

Response:
Robin Johnson, principal, L.E.A.R.N. Excel Charter School and Paul O'Toole, principal, Marquette Elementary School, a regular CPS school, will describe why and how their respective schools extended the school day for all students and the results thus far.

**

This year, the Chicago Schools Policy Luncheon – and the winter issue of Catalyst Chicago - considers: “More Time: Necessity or Tangent?”

Key questions are:

• How can extra time best be used to improve learning?
• How and for whom should learning time be extended?
• How can we use existing time more effectively?

From Mayor Daley to Education Secretary Arne Duncan to President Obama, there is a drumbeat to extend the school day and year and to keep schools open as community centers, providing still more learning time for children and their families.

With just 308 minutes for instruction each day, Chicago has one of the shortest school days in the country. At 170 days, its school year is 10 days shorter than the national average.

Meanwhile, some of the country's leading educators are pushing for more school-day time for teachers' professional learning and implementation, as a team, of strong instructional programs. In the United States, teachers spend three to five hours a week on lesson planning, working pretty much on their own, according to a groundbreaking report released earlier this year. In higher performing European and Asian countries, teachers spend 15 to 20 hours a week, generally in collaboration with their peers.

Of course, just expanding the hours available for student and teacher learning does not automatically increase student achievement or teacher performance. Indeed given the cost, some would argue that advocating for extra school time relieves pressure to make better use of existing time – and after-school programs.

However, one state--Massachusetts – is looking more broadly at time, viewing it as a lever for school redesign. The Bay State's Extended Learning Time (ELT) Initiative added up to two hours to the school day at 26 low-performing schools. The program was the model for federal legislation introduced by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Produced by Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI) and Catalyst Chicago.

 

Recorded Thursday, November 19, 2009 at Union League Club of Chicago.