What is this Track E Business all about?
A reader suggest that I post something about the new Track E calendar that is being rolled out at a fair number of CPS schools this year.
A Track E school has the same number of days off as a regular CPS school, but the timing is different to reduce the long summer break.
The CPS web site lists the following as benefits of Track E.
- Minimizes “learning loss” for kids who otherwise would be out of school an entire summer.
- Allows teachers better time management to design more meaningful lesson plans in shorter bursts, which can contribute to enhanced instructional programming and improved student achievement.
- Minimizes teacher burnout by providing for regular and better-spaced time off.
- Provides children with a safe environment.
- Regular scheduled time off allows for better student and staff attendance.
I can’t say I’d disagree with any of these reasons. Not totally sure about the attendance thing. From what I’ve read, the plan is supposed to be more effective in addressing problems at schools with low test scores, where kids are at risk due to socio-economic and neighborhood conditions, and where parents are as involved in making sure their kids are keeping up with their academics. In these neighborhoods, schools that act in part as a community center have forged greater bonds with parents and have sometimes found more success with student achievement.
The calendar looks something like this:
– Schools starts Aug 10 (4 weeks early)
– 2 weeks + 2 days off Sept 25 – Oct 12 (total new Fall break)
– 3 weeks off Dec 14 – Jan 1 (1 extra week for Winter break)
– 2 weeks + 1 day off March 26 – April 9 (1 extra week for Spring break)
– School ends June 18 (regular end date)
So….. summer break is down to 7-8 weeks (I can’t quite figure it out. I’m missing a week somewhere.) There are still all the random days off throughout the year as well (professional development, report card days, holidays.)
Boy, I know it has its benefits and in a city like Chicago where the schools are somehow under-serving many kids it sure makes sense to try it. I just can’t stop thinking that it doesn’t make sense with our weather (we only get 3 short months of summer!) and the lack of air-conditioning in CPS schools. Starting on August 10th? Torture on a 90 degree day.
It’s also a working parent’s nightmare. Right now many parents hire a summer person (like a college student) to watch their kids during the summer months. Who do you get to cover a 3 week Winter break? Or a 2 week Fall break? The logistics are nerve-wracking if you’re the parent who has to scramble to find a sitter.
On the plus side, as a person who is crowd-averse, I’d welcome some days off when the rest of the world is still in school. It’s be nice to tour all the museums during that late Sept break. Or take a trip to Disney or the Dells.
For now, many of the schools who are trying Track E are schools with very low test scores and/or in low income areas. I did notice Prescott Elementary on the list (in a fast-gentrifying neighborhood.) I’m curious to see how the parents there like the schedule or whether teachers feel it helps the kids academically.
Anyone with thoughts, information, or feedback, please feel free to comment!