For school year 2019 – 2020, the students will be dismissed every Wednesday at 2:00 pm for the purpose of early release time for teachers. During this time, teachers will be engaged in continuous professional learning. Teachers, paraprofessionals and administration will be engaged in data analysis, curriculum development and instructional strategies designed to meet the academic, social and emotional needs for ALL students. The time our staff spends honing the art and science of teaching will ensure our students continue to meet and exceed expectations in order to perform at high levels.
The decision to move ahead with regular early dismissals was not made without the understanding that the decision will likely inconvenience some families. The Board debated this decision for several board meetings this spring with a final decision at our regular May meeting and put the calendar into action at our June meeting when the final 2019-20 calendar was available to Illinois school districts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are early release days?
Traditionally, teachers have been isolated in their classrooms because time was not available for them to meet as an entire grade level, course and/or department. The early release schedule enables educators to work and learn from each other. Professional learning allows teachers to align, revise and develop curriculum, assessments and learning activities. The ultimate goal of professional learning is to improve student learning by teachers identifying best instructional practices and using them consistently.
Currently, local districts that incorporate early release days into their school calendars are Ball-Chatham CUSD #5, Riverton CUSD #14, Springfield District #186, Tri-City, A-C Central and now PORTA .
Why do we have early release days?
Education, like many other occupations and professions, is changing rapidly. The district recognizes that in order to continue to focus on improved student learning to address our educational priorities and goals that time is needed for planning, collaboration, professional development and communication.
Students will be dismissed at 2:00 pm each Wednesday to allow teachers, paraprofessionals, and administration to engage in planned meaningful activities for the purpose of improving student learning. Such activities could include:
- school improvement planning
- review and analysis of standardized assessments
- district academic improvement initiatives
- grade level meetings
- cross grade level meetings
- curriculum development and assessment
- data analysis
- professional development
- problem solving meetings
- staff meetings
- group consultation, etc.
All planned activities will be developed around building, grade and/or unit level student achievement data.
Why does the District choose Wednesdays for all their Professional Learning Time?
When considering the different days of the week, the administration attempted to identify a day with the least number of conflicts throughout the school year. Wednesdays are typically less impacted by holidays and have fewer athletic competitions and co-curricular activities scheduled that may conflict.
How will we know if Early Release Days Work?
The District administration will evaluate the effectiveness of the early release programming and will report to the Board of Education at the conclusion of the 2019 – 2020 school year.
The District’s mission: “Dedicated to providing the environment vital for student success” is consistent with the decision to implement early release time. Making this commitment means that we recognize the relationship between professional learning time and improved student achievement. The District appreciates your support of our educators and our students. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the district at 217-632-3803.
Matthew W. Brue, Superintendent