January 18, 2013
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today released its proposed single, unified calendar for school year 2013-2014 (SY 13-14) that does away with the District’s two-track schedule and gives all students the same start and end dates and days off. Developed in collaboration with the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), the new, single calendar provides a balance of uninterrupted student learning days and reflects input gathered from parents, students, teachers and principals in order for families to easily plan work, childcare and vacation schedules.
“We are one District, with one vision and we want to provide our school community with one calendar that makes sense from the classroom to the kitchen table,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “Families all across our city struggle to coordinate busy schedules with school, work and play and this unified calendar was designed to best meet the needs of our families’ home lives while giving our schools the time they need to implement a rigorous curriculum.”
Under the new teacher contract, the District and CTU agreed to create a committee to work collaboratively in building and implementing a single calendar. To design the calendar, representatives from CPS and CTU sat down to discuss parameters and to develop an engagement plan that included an online survey that would ensure their recommendations would be informed by a variety of stakeholders. To maximize the feedback process, CPS launched an online survey and focus groups with parents and principals.
After analyzing community feedback, CPS put together calendar options which were then reviewed by and discussed with the CTU and representatives from various stakeholder groups including parents, principals and teachers. The final product is a reflection of the input gathered during the entire process while keeping the academic needs of students a priority.
Between the launch of the online survey on December 17, 2012 and its conclusion on January 11, 2013, more than 13,000 parents, students, teachers and principals took the CPS online calendar survey and provided the District with information that was incorporated into the final proposed calendar.
Some highlights from the survey and focus groups include:
- First Day of School: 51 percent of parents and students and 80 percent of teachers preferred a calendar that started sometime in August. All students will now begin school before Labor Day on August 26, 2013. In the past, Track E schools started in early August, while Track R schools began the day after Labor Day.
- Three-Day Thanksgiving Holiday: Many stakeholders responded that they wanted a fall break. The best way to offer a fall break with minimal disruption to student learning was to lengthen the Thanksgiving holiday, accommodating travel plans and allowing more time with family. In SY 13-14, schools will be closed for three days during the week of Thanksgiving starting Wednesday, November 27, 2013.
- Removal of Half Days: 62 percent of parents and students and 61 percent of teachers preferred that professional development occur on full days of non-student attendance instead of half days. To make planning easier for work and childcare, there are no scheduled half days for professional development in the SY 13-14 calendar.
“The feedback we received during this eprocess was invaluable,” added CEO Byrd-Bennett. “We knew that we couldn’t make these decisions without our parents at the table and the input of our school community and we are grateful to all those who took the time to fill out our online survey.”
Three full days of professional development have been embedded at the front end of the year, before the first day of school, and will allow teachers the opportunity to work collaboratively and plan for the year ahead. The additional professional development days remain at the end of each quarter, providing teachers the opportunity to review student data and plan for the next quarter. Professional development days include August 21-23 and November 1, 2013; January 24, March 28 and June 11, 2014. The equivalent of three additional professional development days will be used flexibly at the school level throughout the year based on the discretion of the school.
More specific calendar changes include:
- First and Last Days of School: The first day of school for all students will be August 26, 2013 and the last day of school will be June 10, 2014.
- Holidays: Schools will be closed to observe Labor Day, September 2, 2013; Columbus Day, October 14, 2013; Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2013; Thanksgiving, November 27-29, 2013; Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 20, 2014; Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12, 2014 and Memorial Day, May 26, 2014.
- Parent-Teacher Conferences: Formerly known as Report Card Pick-Up, Parent Teacher Conferences will occur on the same day for elementary and high school students and will occur on November 12, 2013 and April 7, 2014. Parent-Teacher Conferences are days of non-student attendance.
- Winter Break: December 23, 2013 to January 3, 2014.
- Spring Break: Schools will be closed for Spring Break from April 14 to April 18, 2014.
In addition to aligning all schools with start and end dates as well as vacation time, a unified calendar will allow for far better planning among principals, teachers and families and support a better structure for implementing a more rigorous curriculum and intervention for students in need, including:
- Helping to balance the need for uninterrupted student learning days with necessary breaks for staff, professional development and vacations.
- Allowing for more consistent professional development planning throughout the year for teachers from school to school to support them as they continually monitor student progress.
- Providing CPS partners, including the Chicago Park District, the YMCA and many other organizations, a consistent calendar to plan from for providing students with out-of-school time opportunities.
It is important to note that this information is student and family-specific, and school-based CPS employees should contact their principal for further information on what next year’s calendar means for them. The proposed calendar is pending the approval of the Board of Education and will be presented at their next monthly meeting on January 23, 2013.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.