News: Increased Learning Time for Schools in 2013

Photo Credit: Samantha Henze

5 states have declared a lengthened learning period, with 300 additional hours, to start in 2013.

Today, five states declared that next school year, 300 additional hours of class time will be added the current calendar. These states – Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee, and Colorado – want to raise student proficiency in low-performing schools to a level competitive with students abroad.

The additional learning time will come from either longer school days, a longer school year, or a combination of the two. The decision will be made by a group of school and district officials, with further input from teachers and parents.

Educators looking to combat the fear that the U.S. public education system has fallen behind those abroad have turned towards a lengthened learning period in another attempt to increase proficiency. The National Center on Time and Learning has cited studies supporting the claim that students will perform better if they spend more time learning.

Some, who do not support adding hours to the learning period, argue that foreign students who have a higher proficiency spend less time in the classroom than students in the U.S. However, the majority, who has been searching for the key to improving public education, believes this plan will bring progress, if not solve the problem.

These additional school hours are being financed by a combination of federal, state, and district funding. Many schools have also applied for and received grants to help close the gap between current and necessary funds. In Massachusetts, the Expanded Learning Time initiative is already funding the 300-hour increase for 19 schools.

The ultimate goal remains, as always, to raise the proficiency of U.S. students, specifically in low-performing schools to levels where they are able to compete on a global platform. These upcoming reforms will hopefully reveal whether a longer school day or year accomplishes that end.