Not only are Chicago schools being rewarded for a longer day; the district is now shelling out $3 million to schools that use the added time in innovative ways.
As I wrote on Tuesday, 40 additional schools in Chicago just joined the original 11 that accepted incentives from the district to add 90 minutes to the school day at the beginning of this year. Next year, all schools in the district will shift to the longer schedule. So far, the incentive plan is costing the district $7 million.
But now, more money is up for grabs. In order to be eligible for the $100,000 grants, schools need to apply by Feb. 24 (awards in late March) and show the district they have restructured their school day to use time effectively to meet student and staff needs. Up to 30 schools will receive awards for next school year, the district reports. (Private foundations may be supplying additional funds.)
According to a release from the district, "The grants are part of an ongoing effort for schools to re-examine the needs of their student body and to creatively and effectively utilize the additional time to support each and every student. The schools will serve as models of excellence and will help lead their networks and the district in adopting creative approaches to school redesign."
The grants are supposed to inspire schools to think "creatively" about how they use time to boost academic achievement. This means being innovative with programming and scheduling, while still providing a rigorous academic curriculum. Differentiated and individualized learning opportunities for students and time for teacher collaboration will also be valued.
The new efforts in Chicago touch on the continuing debate in the expanded-learning realm about how most effectively to use time to enhance student achievement and long-term outcomes. A few of these are mentioned in Valerie Strauss' blog for the Washington Post.