Kirk’s Year-Round Schools Legislation Heads to Senate Floor

The All-Year School Study Act Passed Out of Committee Today and Heads to Senate Floor

Bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act Approved, 22-0

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) announced that his signature pieces of education legislation, The All-Year School Study Act and The Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter Schools Act, will be part of the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, which was unanimously passed out of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today. The Every Child Achieves Act reforms the flawed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law that updated the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) in 2001. The law authorizes spending on K-12 education programs and expired seven years ago.

“At schools like Alain Locke in Chicago, students in an all-year program outperform their peers in math and reading by nearly 25 percent,” Senator Kirk said. “This is a real opportunity to boost learning and prepare our future workforce. I urge the Senate to pass this bipartisan legislation that brings our education system into the 21st century and ensures our kids can compete on a global stage.”

The All-Year School Study Act

The All-Year School Study Act was introduced earlier this year with Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and would promote year-round elementary and secondary school programs in order to boost academic achievement in low-income, low-performing school districts throughout the country. Modeled after the program at Alain Locke Charter School on Chicago’s West Side, which has classes year-round, the All-Year School Study Act would authorize $4 million in federal resources and utilize existing funds through the Fund for the Improvement of Education. 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.

The Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter Schools Act

The Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter Schools Act was introduced this year by Senator Kirk, along with Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter Schools Act, which streamlines existing Charter School Programs and provides startup, replication, and expansion funding for high-quality charter schools. This bill aims to improve educational opportunities for all students by expanding the number of high-quality charter schools, helping charter schools access suitable facilities, and supporting innovation and research in the charter sector.

There are more than 54,000 Illinois students that attend charter schools. The LEARN and Noble networks in Chicago account for 22 percent of the students in Chicago – and students attending charter schools are 18 percent more likely to finish high school than their peers.

The Every Child Achieves Act also includes important changes to improve our education system that NCLB ignored or neglected. Importantly, annual yearly progress (AYP) is repealed. Student and school success metrics are included to help states identify and address the neediest students. And, for the first time, it incentivizes the coordination of statewide pre-K programs to address the growing need for early childhood education.