Last month, Karen Carlson wrote in this space to tell you about Team 21's progress on its summer work: to develop a framework for evaluating changes that have been made this year in our elementary schools, to establish a plan to provide time each day for teachers to work together and to create an approach for parent-teacher conferences this year.
She also talked about Team 21's biggest summer task: to develop a recommendation to bring to the Continuous Improvement Team (CIT) around the possibility of adding time to the elementary school day. That is what I want to focus on here.
One of the challenges in communicating work in progress is just that--it is in progress. We are in an early stage and although nothing has been decided, we want to share our thinking to date. Today I'll provide a status update, share a link to Team 21's report and lay out the timeline for some of the next steps.
Yesterday, Team 21 presented its work to CIT in the form of an interim recommendation. This report includes a "Beliefs Statement" which emphasizes the importance of time for learning, for collaboration and for a balanced life, and which highlights the fact that "time" has an impact beyond the walls of our schools. Team 21 recommended that the district pursue full-day kindergarten in order to better prepare children for first grade and beyond. Knowing that full-day kindergarten is a longer-term goal, the team suggested that until that can be accomplished, we shorten the time our kindergarteners spend in art and music in order to give them more time for core instruction. Team 21 also recommended that more study be done in the following areas: changing the way band and orchestra are scheduled at elementary to avoid pulling children out of core instruction, giving elementary teachers a work day that aligns to the Hadley work day, extending instruction for struggling students and reallocating instructional time at Hadley to give science and social studies more time.
This work on time now goes to CIT, which is responsible for developing a recommendation to bring to the Board of Education in November. As CIT begins this process, the Team 21 report will provide a solid foundation. CIT's recommendation will likely differ in some ways from the Team 21 report, although it's too early to know how that might look. What we do know is that the goal we all share is to do the best for our children that we possibly can so that they will be prepared to succeed in school and beyond.
Dr. Paul Gordon
Superintendent of Glen Ellyn School District 41