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Afternoon Announcements: August 24, 2011

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August 24, 2011 06:34 pm

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The nation’s third largest school district has announced plans to increase the length of time its kids spend in school. Chicago Public Schools officials announced yesterday the school day will be 90 minutes longer and the school year will extend by two weeks. Earlier in the summer, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law giving Chicago Public Schools the power lengthen its school day and year, according to the Associated Press. Roughly 405,000 students attend Chicago schools. The Chicago Tribune reported this afternoon that schools CEO Jean Claude Brizard offered the Chicago Teachers Union a counter-proposal of a 2 percent raise for elementary teachers should the union agree to longer school days in kindergarten through eighth grade.

As rural school populations continue to grow, the success of students in these areas become more important to the nation’s education goals, Education Week reports. Between 2004 and 2009, rural schools grew by 11 percent, from 10.5 million students to 11.7 million. The student populations in rural areas are also becoming more diverse. Today, students of color constitute 28 percent of rural students.

The Detroit Public Schools launched training seminars for parents in the district to teach thema bout online tools that can help them become more involved with their children’s education. The training started Tuesday, and each parent who attends receives a $25 Target gift card. The parents are taught how to use the new Parent Portals, which allow them to access education resources such as online textbooks, class assignments, and student grades and absences, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. Department of Education recently announced its guidelines for its next Race to the Top competition, which will focus this time on improving preschools. The Christian Science Monitor reported the Obama administration wants to have the same kind of effect on pre-K education this time around as it did in its Race to the Top competition, which awarded roughly $4 billion for use in K-12 education to schools that took on new education reforms.

The Washington Post reports that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has appointed Laura Fornash as the state’s new secretary of education. Fornash served as interim secretary since July after Gerard Robinson left to become schools’ chief in Florida.

The A+ College Ready program in Alabama has resulted in a 108 percent jump in passing scores on the AP tests in math, science, and English among schools that participated across the state. The program provides training and support for teachers, special Saturday study times for students, and incentives to teachers, as well as a $100 bonus to students if they pass the test, according to The Birmingham News.

Only about 30 percent of last year’s California high school graduates who took the ACT college entrance exam tested proficient in all subject areas, according to California Watch. Student tested the best in English, where nearly three-fourths of test takers were considered ready for college freshman classes. In science, however, only 34 percent were considered at that level.

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