People keep telling me that more schools are moving to a year-round schedule, which I'm told is called Schedule E, and a friend sent me this WBEZ audio segment about the trend. Is your school year-round, or headed that way?
Some refer to "Schedule E", wrongly I think, as a "year-round" schedule. Whatever it's called is less important than understanding the difference between Schedule E schools and "multi-track/year-round" schools. The decision to implement the former is generally driven by the principal/LSC because in their view it's good for instruction, while the decision to implement the latter is generally driven by the Board because of severe overcrowding. Multi-Track schools generally involve quartiling the school's enrollment into four groups (A, B, C, and D). The school year begins in July and every month three of the groups are attending school while one group is on intercession. Implementing multi-track/year-round effectively (or artificially) increases the school facility's capacity by 25%, because in any given month only 75% of the student enrollment is in the building.
January 03, 2007 at 12:08 AM
Our school is currently a track E school. We are in our second year, and our school community loves the new schedule. I agree with the blogger who stated that it is wrongly stated as "year round," which scares a lot of people away from a good thing. Instead, it is simply a modified schedule that is intended to increase student achievement through reducing summer learning loss, and reducing stress and burnout among students and staff. Our parents, teachers, and students are extremely receptive, and our achievement increase over 24% after the first year. My personal belief is that the entire school district should seriously consider moving to the Track E schedule! There is no need for a 10-week summer anymore. Instead, we can break up the vacation times throughout the year.
Explanation of Track E:
Students begin school on the second Monday of August. Students and teachers are on inter-session break for the first two weeks of October. Students and teachers are again off for inter-session break for three weeks in December (getting out one week prior to the rest of the district). The final inter-session break takes place for two weeks in the spring (Track E schools are released one week prior to the rest of the district). Track E schools are on break the same day as all other schools for summer vacation (the only difference is that Track E schools only get 6 weeks for summer break, instead of 10 weeks).
January 03, 2007 at 02:51 AM
The piece on WBEZ does not mention that the track Lindblom's CTU membership voted on was Track A. (We are calling it a "balanced calendar" which seems more appropriate than "year-round school.")
You can view the five non-traditional calendar options at: http://cps.k12.il.us/Calendar_Yearround_A_E_2006_07.pdf.
The track A schedule has students in school in August, September, and October; December, January, and February; April, May and June. School is not in session (for the most part) in July, November, and March. Students continue to have a winter break.
Alan Mather |
January 03, 2007 at 06:55 AM
2:51 states "There is no need for a 10-week summer anymore. Instead, we can break up the vacation times throughout the year." Clearly the idea was based on a farm based economy. But among the questions I would have is why should higher performing students who experience no or little if any education loss be denied the extended break?
For example higher performing students will be denied access to camp programs built around the extended summer break. Music camps are one example, there are others. For young students who are athletes summer camp programs can be critical in their development.
Suburban middle class students are not denied these options. So before we all jump on the Track bandwagon we should look at the downside. Moreover, what about teachers who have kids not attending CPS who are not on Tracks but get the summer off. What about teachers who went into education to be able to have extended summer breaks to pursue other aspects of their lives, do they just stop teaching?
January 03, 2007 at 01:14 PM
Nothing personal, 1:14, but your last point sucks. I wouldn't want my kids taught by a teacher whose main reason for choosing the profession was an extended vacation from the profession.
January 03, 2007 at 02:50 PM
teachergrrl- believe it or not some of the best teachers with the highest qualifications chose to teach because they want summers off. Some teachers who could easily work in higher paying fields trade pay for the long summers.
There are several such teachers at W. Young, and Payton. One teacher spends summers in Europe and teaches a foreign language another teacher is a mountain climber. These teachers are highly engaged with their students and responsive to parents. One of these teachers does teach one of my own kids and she is outstanding.
Some of us do have lives other than teaching.
January 03, 2007 at 05:49 PM
My neighborhood elementary school has track E, and I like the short summer, but there are a couple of other drawbacks:
1) as 2:51 explained, the kids have breaks at odd times in the year, which can be hard on child care arrangements
2) at least at my local school, the teachers assign long projects, book reports, and big packets of math homework during the non-summer breaks. This is fine if the kids have support at home, but most of the kids here have Spanish-speaking parents who can't help with homework. Many are working multiple jobs or are moms with a lot of kids, which can make it hard to get out to the library, etc. I just took one of my neighbors to the library today to get him a book for his book report, due Monday.
January 03, 2007 at 06:25 PM
That's not that I wouldn't want teachers to make those assignments, I'm just saying they often don't get done and they certainly don't always get done well. I wonder how that offsets the benefit of a shorter summer break.
January 03, 2007 at 06:27 PM
Interesting exchange thus far! To begin, I really like the fact that Lindblom is calling their calender a "balanced calendar." That was genius. I have been trying to come up with an alternative title for year round, because it is not all year. I will borrow that term when referring to the Track calendars. Additionally, I applaud Lindblom for going outside of the box, and choosing to follow the A calendar. I didn't realize that just choosing 'A' was an option. I thought that the two options where Multi-Track and Track E.
My original post was 2:51. I want to respond to the comments made earlier in the blog. I believe that higher achieving students can benefit from Track E, by participating in expeditionary learning experiences during the first week of each inter-session. Students can actually go out and research some of the concepts that they have been taught during the school year, as field-based experiences.
Final comment, I agree with the comment that breaks are given at odd times of the year. I am currently working on forming partnerships with Chicago Public Library, Chicago Park District, the Salvation Army, and the YMCA to provide programs for our children during their breaks (including summers). Another possible partnership could include working with museums to offer week-long workshops for children to participate in during regular school hours.
Again, I am so encouraged by the dialogue regarding "balanced calendars." I encourage all teachers to think about the benefits of these modified school calendars.
The list of schools moving to the "balanced calendar" is expanding. The vast majority of the schools on the Track E calendar are doing well. From what I understand, Nicholson (Area 14), and now Lindblom have switched to the modified calendars. Dr. Torres (Area 14 AIO) is encouraging all of his schools to switch to the Track E Balanced Calendar. If successful, this would be one of the boldest moves made within the district in a long time.
Other Track E schools that I am aware of:
January 03, 2007 at 07:25 PM
I would love to work at a Year Round School. I think it is better for the kids (less regression) and better for us (less chance of burnout maybe). However, after teaching ESY the last few years I would think that many of the schools would need air conditioning to become year round. The days two summers ago when it hit 99 - 100 degrees I took my kids outside all morning because being outside in the hot hot sun was much COOLER than my classroom! Our office is air conditioned but that is about it at our school.
January 03, 2007 at 10:46 PM
Excellent point, and something that the Board and the Local School governing body has to think about when approving "balanced calendar" schools. I love the term balanced calendar (thanks Alan Mather)! This would be a wonderful capital improvement program for the district to undertake. It could be done with some of the 1.5 billion dollars that the mayor is lobbying for to construct new schools. All schools should be air conditioned in the city, regardless of their calendar status.
January 03, 2007 at 10:54 PM
So far I have seen no comments on what impact the elimination of extended breaks has on Mexican-American families that have their children spend summers in Mexico. At my school, at grade 4, I know of at least three such children.
It seems that those families that want their children to be raised in a bi-cultural manner should have the right to chose a school that operates with the standard summer break. Those teachers making posts arguing that "all" schools should go on a Track system ignore the importance of such bi-cultural experiences for Mexican-American children.
I am myself a product of exactly that experience and I believe it has made me a far better bilingual teacher because of it. My own children now second generation US born Mexican-Americans spend at least 4 weeks each summer with my extended family in Mexico. I would have no objection if Mexican-American children whose families want their children to have this experience could have an option to be educated in a school that had long summer vacations. But this is not what I am reading in these posts, I am reading teachers arguing for imposing this Track system regardless of parental preference in the name of improved test scores. As a Mexican-American who lived many wonderful summers with my extended family and grandparents in Mexico I do object.
January 04, 2007 at 10:05 AM
Is summer the only time that your kids could go to Mexico? Would your extended family not welcome them during other times of the year?
I think as a society we lean towards a long summer break because that is what we know, but breaks at alternative times might lead to more diverse experiences for our kids.
January 04, 2007 at 12:34 PM
I am all for students going longer or more "balanced" calendar to school, but when only some schools do this it is a problem when there is high mobility rates. Schools that start in August, get a lot of kids coming in September-AFTER Labor Day and therefor, they miss 4 weeks of school already. That puts the students even more behind. CPS should do this for all--let's go!
January 04, 2007 at 01:57 PM
I think that the argument for Mexican American students is a stretch. There are many African American children who visit their families in the south during the summer months. This can still happen for both cultures, just for a shorter amount of time. Instead of 8 - 10 weeks in Mexico or Mississippi, they can spend 4 - 6 weeks. The students can still experience their culure, and spend time with their elders (just for a shorter period of time). This issue should not influence a school or a district's decision to go to a Track system.
Furthermore, the writer who stated that the students could also visit during other times of the year is also a good point (2 weeks in October, 3 weeks in December, or 2 weeks in April for Track E).
January 04, 2007 at 02:50 PM
1:57 makes a good point regarding mobility, and children coming to your school after Labor Day. This is not only an issue of mobility, however. Instead, it is a culture that must be broken. Our society is entrenched in the traditional 10-week system. Educators must break this mind-set that the PARENTS have...not the children. Children go to school when sent! Even if all schools went to the Track system (which I believe should happend) we will still have an issue with students reporting to school after Labor Day.
January 04, 2007 at 02:54 PM
2:50 indicates that Mexican-American children can go to Mexico during the shorter breaks just as easy as during the long summer breaks. Well first off when my parents took me we drove all the way from Chicago down and my Dad came back to Chicago. He returned before the school year and brought us back. This still happens believe it or not.
Second, at least my school here in Cicero which is 95% Mexican-American and 60% LEP (District 99), we do have kids who go to Mexico over the 2 week holiday we are on right now. The problem and it is a big one they come back sometimes a week or more late.
Now you might ask why would a district 99 teacher read this blog? It is because what you all are doing in CPS sets the trend for us and I am myself a CPS graduate. We too are over crowded just like CPS but I hope we do not go the root all you seem to be cheering on.
January 04, 2007 at 03:36 PM
A few schools in predominantly Mexican-American neighborhoods are already year round due to overcrowding.
Nightingale is on track E though I think they used to be multi-track.
I believe Sandoval is also primarily Mexican-American and they are on a muti-track. As is Pasteur.
Other schools on year round according to the CPS website: Which may or may not be... not sure of all the neighborhoods.
A. Locke 3141 W Jackson
Casals 3501 W Potomac
Chavez 4747 S Marshfield
Columbia Explorers 4520 S Kedzie
Cuffe 8324 S Racine
Drummond 1845 W Cortland
Joplin 7931 S Honore
Lee 6448 s Tripp
Madero Middle 3202 W 28th
Mays Academy 838 W Marquette Rd.
Nightingale 5250 S Rockwell
Pasteur 5825 S Kostner
Peace and Education Coalition
4141 S Wood
Powell 7530 S South Shore
Sandoval 5534 S Saint Louis
I know that many schools have to have students "L" out and "a" back around winter break time because many kids miss before and after winter break to go to Mexico too. I am not sure what to say about that. I don't think it's a good enough reason to keep us on this calendar where our kids regress over the summer break even with ESY (comming from the special ed side of things).
On a note I raised earlier. How many other schools DO NOT Have air conditioning throughout the building. Perhaps my school is in the minority, but i doubt it.
January 04, 2007 at 06:48 PM
Where I got the info from above
January 04, 2007 at 06:50 PM
Our school is going to go to a year round multi-track calendar next year. I think its a horrible move. There is a reason that angry parents in California sued to stop it and there is a reason the parents at our school are vehemently opposed to it.
First, it is impossible to schedule. You will have some large families that need to find daycare for children throughout the entire year and will not be able to take vaccations because they will have a child going to school throughout the entire year. Extended families who have counted on older siblings and cousins to walk small children to and from school will find them on different tracks.
Even though we are a poor school our children get great opportunities in the summer--sports programs, space camp, leadership academy, arts programs and travel baseball. They won't be able to do any of this.
As for the academic effects, the report card is mixed with some school districts showing tremendous drops in test scores after adopting such a calendar. We are kidding ourselves if we think that students lose information over one 2 month summer break, but not over three 1 month breaks.
Finally, special needs students will be hurt as they will either have different teachers and case managers throughout the year who don't know their situation or they will be going to school at times when they don't have any specialized service personel.
Finally, in a neighborhood like ours with a gang problem this calendar will greatly increase the number of unsupervised kids. In Los Angeles the police were some of the biggest opponents of this kind of scheduling for that reason. Kids will be in school during summer when the days are longer and there are organized activities and they'll get a month off in February instead when its dark at 5 and 10 below zero. Those kids will be much better at Grand Theft Auto, but probably not the better for it.
As a teacher I'm looking forward to an increase in my pay as I'll be able to sub off-times at my regular pay and I'm looking forward to vaccation offseason for a change. I'm not kidding myself into thinking the kids aren't getting shortchanged though.
CPS Teacher |
January 04, 2007 at 11:07 PM
11:07 - Your comment is well-taken, but is it not relevant to this conversation. I am a huge proponent of Track E; however, I hate the idea of multi-track schools for elementary schools. It could work better for high schools, but elementary schools have a hard time with it. I understand that something must be done to relieve overcrowded schools, but I hate the idea of multi-track year round.
I would like to make it clear that Track E is not multi-track, it is simply a "balanced calendar."
I believe that staggered schedules are actually better than multi-track to relieve overcrowding. Possibly having a 7:30 - 1:30 schedule (Grades K - 5), and a second schedule starting at 1:30 and going to 5:30 pm (Grades 6 - 8). Students in the second cycle could begin their day at 12:30 (taking lunch and an enrichment class, before moving into the instructional classrooms.
I know that this may sound difficult, but I think that its better than having entire groups of staff and students out of the building at any given time.
January 05, 2007 at 12:16 AM
In response to 3:36, I must say that I am sensitive to the social needs of all ethnic groups, however, I think that it is unfair for the issue of students visiting Mexico to be used as a reason why American schools should not look at modified school calendars as a means to improve student improvement. I support the reconnection to Mexico for Mexican-American students. I am African-American, and I wish that our people could visit Africa in the summer months to reconnect to our culture and history (I think that we would greatly benefit from such a pilgrimage). However, I think that 6 weeks is plenty of time for Mexicans to visit their homeland, and for Africans to visit their homeland, and for Europeans to visit their homeland! After that, we need to come back home, with a greater sense of self and get back to work! Anyone who needs more time than that should probably think about staying in their homeland.
January 05, 2007 at 12:25 AM
3:36, 10:50; I'm Mexican and I DO work in 299.
I hate when adults project their own wishes on kids to get what they want.
Please leave our children out of it.
January 05, 2007 at 01:12 AM
Yes, I don't really have a problem with Track E. The one issue with students going to Mexico though is that from my experience the students will go there anyway. When it happens if it causes attendance to drop then the school district loses money. I do don't see this as a racial issue as much as a financial one. I do know its a misnomer to call this an agrarian calendar. The current school calendar really didn't come around until the 1930s.
CPS Teacher |
January 05, 2007 at 09:09 AM
Go to -
Sort this chart in descending order by %ELL (percent of students who are English Language Learners). Nearly all of the top two dozen with the highest number of English Language Learners all have attendance rates at or above 95%.
Please just --stop--perpetuating a stereotype.
January 05, 2007 at 10:29 AM
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