Definition of an Instructional Day
I was visiting with a group of superintendents early in the school year and one of them mentioned that ISBE no longer had a requirement for number of hours for an instructional day. You received a memo from acting ISBE CEO Ralph Grimm defining an Instructional Day. The passage of the Evidence-Based Funding for Student Success Act repealed Section 18-8.05 of the School Code, which required an instructional day to be a minimum of five hours.
According to this memo "...all decisions should be made based on what will improve outcomes for students." The memo further states, "Districts may define student engagement and student learning in any number or combination of ways: classroom instruction, online instruction, independent research projects, work-based learning and internships, to name a few. ISBE encourages districts to use the flexibility afforded in law to innovate with respect to new ways of engaging students in learning that center on student competencies and mastery of subject matter."
This change could transform Illinois public education. One way we have seen the change implemented is the virtual learning that some districts have incorporated for adverse weather days. Another change is occurring in high school districts that are implementing competency-based curriculums. Students spend part of the school day at work places implementing the skills they learned in schools.
This change in the definition of Instructional Day will be problematic. Administrators will need to be careful in future collective bargaining discussions. In the past school districts have altered the number of instructional clock hours on the first and last day of school, on the days before holidays, on the days of parent-teacher conferences, etc. As a result of these shortened days the Illinois General Assembly passed clock hour laws in the past that mandated students go to school five hours on the first and last day of school, before holidays, etc. The new change in this definition was to allow school districts flexibility to offer different instructional opportunities for students that leads to higher student growth and achievement. Superintendents need to keep their focus on student growth and achievement.
Tip of the Week
IASA Professional Development is sponsoring three sessions at the Triple I Conference:
- On Friday from 10 am to noon we are hosting a workshop on "How Do Schools Address the Social and Emotional Needs of Students?"
- On Friday from 2 to 3 pm is the session on "Ignite! Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements."
- On Saturday from 10:30 to 11:30 am we will present "Educational Technology Stories...But Make it Quick!"