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Jones College Prep Readies for Longer School Day

Members of the Jones College Prep community look ahead to find productive ways of using the extra 90 minutes planned to be added to CPS’s current six-hour school day.

CPS plans to extend school hours starting in the 2012-2013 year. The longer school day will help students perform better in their studies, graduate from college and be prepared to work, according to a press release issued by the school district.

In a street poll on Jan. 30, Joseph Powers, principal of Jones College Prep in the South Loop, said he favors extending school hours. He said that students’ performances will be better if they are in school longer.

“We’re going to provide students with additional supports and interventions targeted for students that have specific needs, things like writing lab and math workshops,” said Powers.

The school will run on a block schedule if everything goes according to plan, he added.

William Jones College Preparatory
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“The schedule we’re looking at would be periods one through four one day, the next day periods five through eight and period eight would be our academic lab period,” said Powers. He added that the block schedule is something the school has been looking at for several years.

According to Powers, period eight would be used for ACT prep along with their College Knowledge Program, which is done with juniors and seniors to get them ready for applying to colleges.

According to CPS, high school students are lagging behind their peers in college readiness. CPS said 7.9 percent of juniors met all four benchmarks on the state’s recent PSAE tests. The average ACT score in Illinois is 17.2, which is below 20 – the benchmark score of college readiness.

Many teachers are also in favor of longer school hours. According to the CPS press release, “A recent Illinois teacher survey found that 69 percent of teachers believe that they do not have sufficient instructional time to meet the needs of all of their students. By extending the school day, CPS will empower principals and teachers to develop plans that uniquely address their students’ needs.”

According to Powers, students’ responses have been positive about longer school hours.

“We held town hall meetings last week to give students a chance to share some ideas and ask questions. That went quite well,” said Powers.

According to him, students top question was whether an additional, eighth period meant Jones would be adding a new class. Powers said he explained that the additional period isn’t for a new class, but instead for the academic lab.

Luke O’Connor, a junior at Jones, said he is in favor of the longer school day. He said it’s good for preparing students for college.

O’Connor’s friend, Jamison Dale, agreed. “I think it will help us for college so I don’t see why not,” said Dale, a junior at Jones.

However, some students are not in favor of lengthening the school day.

“I don’t really like it. I don’t see how it’s going to help us any more than we are already because we’re getting a good education already,” said Gianna Caponera, a junior at Jones.

Chicago resident John Ohern, 34, doesn’t have any children, but said he is in favor of students being in school longer.

“I personally feel that once kids get out of school, there is a lot of opportunity for getting in trouble,” said Ohern. He added that leaving school in the early afternoon isn’t healthy because students aren’t active after they finish their school day. Extending the hours will help them realize how the real world works, Ohern said.

“I think they will learn what a typical work day for everybody is like. Once you get out to the real world you start out at eight in the morning and you finish up at six at night,” said Ohern.

CPS has the shortest school day and is the third largest school district in the country, according to CPS .

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