Senator Kirk Announces Legislation Backing High-Performing All-Year Schools

All-Year School Study Act Builds on the Success of Alain Locke Charter School in Chicago; Promotes Year-Round Schooling Pilot Programs in Low-Income, Low-Achieving Areas

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–January 23, 2014.  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today announced new legislation that would promote year-round elementary and secondary school pilot programs to boost academic achievement in low-income, low-performing school districts across the nation. Senator Kirk outlined the legislation at Alain Locke Charter School, which has academic classes year-round, and serves the under-resourced community of East Garfield Park on Chicago’s West Side. Senator Kirk was joined by Alain Locke Charter School Principal Patrick Love, school parent Michelle Smiley, 8th grade student Kaneshia Henderson and the Reverend James Meeks to discuss The All-Year School Study Act.

“Year-round schools like Alain Locke Charter School in Chicago outperform other schools with fewer academic days and instructional time,” Senator Kirk said. “At Alain Locke, low-income students perform approximately 25 percent better at math and reading than other students in Chicago and throughout the state. In order to be competitive internationally, we must focus on creating successful schools with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is time we replicate the all-year school model to improve the education and long-term success of every student.”

The All-Year School Study Act would authorize $4 million in federal resources to establish a pilot program of year-round public elementary and secondary schools. The bill would utilize existing funds already appropriated to the Fund for the Improvement of Education, which saw an increase in funding for the 2014 fiscal year under the recently passed omnibus appropriation spending measure. The grants awarded would be disbursed to four schools in geographically diverse areas of the nation and priority would be given to low-income communities and low-performing schools, in addition to schools that actively promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education programs.

Alain Locke Charter School’s program has four, ten-week quarters with two four-week breaks in between each quarter, totaling 190 academic days. The average school in Illinois only has 176 school days, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. Alain Locke has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as 1 of 7 schools in the nation best at “Closing the Achievement Gap.” In reading and math, their students have tested 25% and 23% higher than the Illinois average.

During the school day at Alain Locke, the teachers have extended time in their classrooms to focus on core subjects such as reading, writing, and math. The school also includes extra time for enrichment courses such as technology, art and Spanish. Alain Locke is currently comprised of 94% low-income students.