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Five States to Increase Class Time
posted by: Tim | December 07, 2012, 09:29 PM   

Currently, most of the country operates on the traditional, short, five-day school week, with summers off, a system largely based on a century's old calendar that has little significance for the majority of American students. As reformers seek to find a schedule that works, many have argued for school week models that add instructional time.

Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in this new initiative, which will affect nearly 20,000 students in 40 schools. Schools, working with districts, parents, and teachers, will decide whether to make the school day longer, add more days to the school calendar, or both. Once a model is proven successful, advocates plan to expand the program to high-need schools in urban communities.

By giving students access to a more well-rounded system of learning, including additional instruction in art, music, technology, and individualized help in math and science, schools hope to close the achievement gap and build a love of learning.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Obama administration have supported the concept of increased instruction time for years. "Whether educators have more time to enrich instruction or students have more time to learn how to play an instrument and write computer code, adding meaningful in-school hours is a critical investment that better prepares children to be successful in the 21st century," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.

The National Center on Time & Learning, an organization that tracks these programs,estimates that 1,000 schools around the country currently have expanded-learning-time models, all of which vary in performance and outcomes. While the number will grow with this new multi-state program, experts contend that expanding the day can be an effective tool; however, more time isn't a magic bullet. "We need to make sure we're doing all we can to use time smarter and more efficiently before simply demanding more of it," said AEI's Frederick M. Hess.

What do you think about the extended school calendar? Do you think it will make a large impact?

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