Peoria high schools to have weekly early dismissals next year

High schools in Peoria, Illinois, will dismiss an hour early once a week for the 2018-19 school year. On January 22 the board of education approved the early dismissal policy to allow teachers to participate in Professional Learning Community meetings. “The plan would remove the PLC period for Core teachers during the school day and save an estimated $750,000 in the Education Fund,” the agenda stated.

The Peoria Journal Star reports:

High school teachers currently have PLCs and a preparatory period daily. Under the new plan, they will give up the preparatory period, which allows them to teach an additional course, alleviating the district’s teacher shortage. More teachers will be included in the weekly PLC periods….

Board Vice President Dan Adler was the only vote against moving to the once-a-week early dismissal. “I think there are better alternatives,” said Adler, who preferred earlier proposals. “It’s hard for me to justify the loss in instructional time.”

Shanghai teachers have plenty of planning time

Thomas L. Friedman  says that teachers in the high-performing schools in Shanghai spend about 70 percent of each week teaching and 30 percent developing teaching skills and lesson planning.

Teng Jiao, 26, an English teacher here, said school begins at 8:35 a.m. and runs to 4:30 p.m., during which he typically teaches three 35-minute lessons. I sat in on one third-grade English class. The English lesson was meticulously planned, with no time wasted. The rest of his day, he said, is spent on lesson planning, training online or with his team, having other teachers watch his class and tell him how to improve and observing the classrooms of master teachers.


Rapid City schools begin early dismissals

Starting September 12, schools in Rapid City, South Dakota, began Wednesday early dismissals. This schedule provides teachers with time for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). There will be 27 Wednesday early dismissals this year.

According to The Rapid City Journal, “Superintendent Tim Mitchell said the district will provide after-school supervision Wednesdays at each building until families have worked out the new schedule.”

Several community organizations have started providing child care and activities on Wednesday afternoons.

Teachers use early-release days for training. Horace Mann Elementary and five other pilot schools have already had three years of experience with early dismissal days. One mother credits that schedule with improving her son’s reading scores from below basic to proficient. Danny Janklow, who was principal at Horace Mann the past three years, the school changed from being “”a school in need of corrective action” to become a “school of distinction” in two years.”

See also Professional Learning Community scheme might disrupt student schedules in Rapid City.

Nonprofessional learning communities

I’m tired of hearing about Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). It’s time to pay attention to the students–nonprofessional learning communities.

Michigan school district starts Monday early dismissals

In Michigan, Three Rivers Community Schools will have a Monday early dismissal pilot program this year. The district says this “will significantly enhance the education each of our students receives.”

Here is the description of this early dismissal plan.

Three Rivers Community Schools
2012-2013 Early Release Pilot

Question and Answer Document

Why are people hearing it described differently?
The early release time is for staff to work collaboratively on “Response to Intervention,” which is commonly called “RTI”. This is achieved through a “Professional Learning Community,” which is commonly called “PLC”. Consequently, students are being released early which will allow buildings to implement RTI through PLC’s.

How often are students scheduled to be released early?
Students are scheduled to be released early on Mondays.

How much earlier will students be released on Monday?
Students will be released 71 minutes earlier. [The bell schedule is listed.]

Why are some districts implementing early release days?
School districts dedicated to creating Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s) provide opportunities for faculty and staff to work together as a team. Teams review curriculum, discuss instructional strategies, review and create common assessments, analyze data and review individual student progress to determine if any additional support is necessary. [Read more…]

Tulsa to implement seven early dismissal days

Yesterday Tulsa Public Schools announced  that it will proceed with an early dismissal day on the last Friday of every month, beginning Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, pending board approval. This is being implemented on a district-wide basis to enable teachers, staff and administrators to have additional time to engage in Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), where effective teaching methods and techniques can be studied and shared.

At elementary schools, students will be dismissed at 1 p.m. on the last Friday of the month; middle school students will leave school at 1:20 p.m. and high school students at 1:50 p.m. Students will be served lunch prior to dismissal. School start times will remain as they are currently. No child care will be provided on early dismissal Fridays unless the school already offers after-school care. There will be no early release in December 2012 or in May 2013.

The dates for early release for the 2012-13 school year are as follows:

  • Sept. 28, 2012
  • Oct. 26
  • Nov. 30
  • Jan. 25, 2013
  • Feb. 22
  • March 29
  • April 26

“We are excited at the opportunity to be able to give our teachers and principals more time together, as this will help put TPS on the road to improved student achievement,” said Dr. Keith Ballard, superintendent. “We are also pleased that we can make the change to early release on ‘last Fridays’ without having to add additional days to the school calendar. A final recommendation will be made to the TPS board on Aug. 6 and we expect to implement this plan pending their approval. Our thanks go out to the supportive parents, teachers and school administrators who favor this plan.”

When surveyed in June, 70 percent of the more than 1,300 parents and teachers were supportive of a monthly early release day. Friday was the preferred day of the week by 66 percent of those who responded. The survey was conducted from June 20-24, 2012. About 67 percent of participants were parents, 31.5 percent were teachers, 2.3 percent TPS administrators and 9.3 percent “other.”

Hat tip to for publicizing this story. One of the comments posted in response said, “Tulsa Public Schools Sets Early-Release Schedule” Hummm looks like a Department of Corrections Headline rather than a Public School Headline…LOL.”

This comment by finding humor is amusing because many stories dealing with the topic of “early release” are referring to prisoners. That is one reason I prefer to usually use the term “early dismissal.”

Tulsa Public Schools is Northeastern Oklahoma’s largest school district with nearly 42,000 thousand students, 7,000 employees, 88 campuses, 250 school buses and about 173 square miles.

See also Tulsa Public Schools consider a monthly early dismissal day for students.

Brevard County increases number of early dismissal days

In Florida, Brevard Public Schools has increased the number of early dismissal days for the 2012-2013 school year in order to provide more time and opportunity for teachers to participate in site-based collaborative planning, professional learning communities, and other elements of instructional preparation. Here are some of the early dismissal dates:

 August 29, 2012
September 26, 2012
October 31, 2012
November 28, 2012
January 30, 2013
February 27, 2013
March 13, 2013

In addition, students will continue to be dismissed early on the final three days of the semester in December and in May during semester exams.   School-aged childcare hours will be adjusted to accommodate the early release schedules.

California school district implements Wednesday early dismissals

The Pleasant Ridge School District in Nevada County, California, will start Wednesday early dismissals in the new school year. The school district has two elementary schools and a middle school for grades 6-8 in  (District students attend Bear River High School, operated by the Nevada Joint Union High School District.) reports that elementary students at Alta Sierra and Cottage Hill schools will be dismissed at 1 p.m. Wednesdays, while students in grades 6-8 will be dismissed at 2:15 p.m. The schedules for the other school days will be 7:55 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the elementary school and 9:05 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. for the middle school.

The early dismissal days will provide time for Professional Learning Communities, designing interventions for students who need assistance, and collaborating on creating a smooth transition to the new Common Core standards.

Joshua Starr pushes Professional Learning Communities in Montgomery County

Superintendent Joshua Starr says he wants all 200 schools in Montgomery County to implement Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to give teachers time to work in groups to plan lessons and analyze results.

Source: Joshua Starr’s first year as Montgomery schools chief reflects shift in educational eras – The Washington Post.

Tulsa Public Schools consider a monthly early dismissal day for students

In an effort to allow time for faculty and staff collaboration, Tulsa Public Schools is considering early-release days once per month for all TPS schools. The district  released a survey Tuesday asking parents and TPS teachers their opinions and personal preferences on early release.

By releasing students early one day per month, teachers, staff and administrators would gain a half-day  that could be used for Professional Learning Communities, where effective teaching methods and techniques can be studied and shared.

“Since the traditional school day requires teachers to supervise students continually, ending school early one day each month will allow them to capture valuable time to work together,” said Millard House, TPS deputy superintendent, in a letter accompanying the survey. “We are convinced it can go a long way toward having a dramatic impact on improving student achievement in the classroom.”

An early release would mean students would have one day per month where they would be dismissed in the middle of the day. The exact day and week for each month have not been determined, as parent input will play a role in selecting the best time. TPS executives have already determined that an early- release would be more cost effective for the district than the “late start” days other school districts have adopted. Once approved, all schools in the district would have the same early-release day of the month.

The survey’s intent is to determine the best possible day and time combination that would work district-wide, as well as weighing other factors that enter into the discussion, including after-school care and transportation on early-release days.

Responses are requested before 11:59 p.m., Sunday, June 24.

“So far a majority of parents and teachers support giving up half a day, once a month for teacher planning,” Tulsa’s Channel 8 reports. “But not everyone agrees it’s a good idea.”

Tulsa Public Schools is Northeastern Oklahoma’s largest  school district with nearly 42,000 thousand students, 7,000 employees, 88 campuses, 250 school buses and about 173 square miles.