Increased Learning Time for Schools in 2013

Source: Samantha Henze

Samantha Henze

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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.

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19 Responses to “Increased Learning Time for Schools in 2013”

  1. zpacalin on December 4th, 2012 3:35 pm

    300 hours is a very long time…that’s going to have a huge impact on the year!

  2. Nicky H on December 4th, 2012 3:44 pm

    While I definitely agree that something needs to be done about our public education system, I think that the crucial error these legislators are making is that our pitfalls are not how long we are in school, but the system itself. Serious changes need to be made. The current system of a 7 hour school day is not conducive to learning.

  3. Virsies on December 4th, 2012 6:57 pm

    I personally don’t think increased school hours would help performance much. As a student, I think this might make students come to dread school even more. To increase learning, I think more individual attention and challenging courses would be more efficient.

    shoover Reply:

    I completely agree, especially because homework levels have gone up in recent years. A longer school day would take away from homework time, make students stay up later, and make them more tired and less focused for the following school days. However, adding a few days to the school year may not hurt.

  4. Ryan on December 4th, 2012 7:45 pm

    This sounds absolutely awful. Students are already spending way too much time doing school-related activities. More school time is just unnecessary and quite frankly absurd. Increased school hours will not cure low performances on testing whatsoever.

    Hannah Ellefritz Reply:

    Yeah, I’m not sure about this either. It would be interesting to know how much money this is costing the government and also how the number of hours of education per year at these schools compares to M-A’s.

  5. Tyler Finn on December 4th, 2012 8:42 pm

    This is interesting, but it must be done because the educators feel that it is best for the students, not just a strategy to placate public opinion. While extending the school day is a start, I believe far more likely to help our students prosper, specifically in socio-economically disadvantaged areas, is moving to year round school. There is so much summer learning loss for kids who don’t do summer camps or travel to Europe; their minds atrify over break, making it difficult for them to catch up once school begins.

    David Schmitt Reply:

    Absolutely! With the existing summer break (roughly two and a half months), kids who do not engage academically over break can lose as much as 40 percent of the knowledge that they gained over the prior year! Shorter breaks spread out over the course of the year should reduce the learning loss, while still affording students a well-deserved rest from academics.

  6. alai on December 4th, 2012 8:52 pm

    While I think that a longer school year could potentially be beneficial, that alone seems unlikely to noticeably improve the proficiency of students. Increasing the time that students spend at schools will not make up of for a lack of resources (which is often a problem for low-performing schools) or an inefficient curriculum.

  7. sparish on December 5th, 2012 5:49 pm

    That sounds horrible…It could have some benefits, but could also cause students to hate school even more and would take away from time students allot for homework. Plus it would interfere with extracurricular activities or make it harder to manage them.

  8. egrose on December 5th, 2012 8:30 pm

    I also don’t think that a longer school day will solve the problem. The amount of productivity and individual learning in a school are more important, and this doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with a longer school day. Instead of extending the school day, the schools should consider hiring tutors for students who needs extra help, or instill some other form of learning that does not involve a huge class full of people, as this isn’t the best way to help struggling students.

  9. rgordan on December 6th, 2012 4:02 pm

    I think this is a step in the right direction, but will not be enough on its own.

  10. Nolan Martin on December 6th, 2012 7:21 pm

    Fascinating, but I agree with my peers. The best solution is to discover how to make the time students and educators already have more productive, not increase the amount of unproductive schooling hours.

  11. cwoods on December 6th, 2012 7:37 pm

    I wonder if other states will begin to follow in the their footsteps to make school days longer.

  12. Sarah on December 7th, 2012 12:11 am

    this is just another push in the breakneck academic race. This is just more pressure, even if its not required for some students.

  13. greid on December 7th, 2012 12:46 am

    I hope that the increase in hours will create an increase in performance and ability levels of students, not do the opposite!

  14. zpacalin on December 7th, 2012 9:38 pm

    additionally, I’m not sure how it is around the country, but from what I can gather after school sports ae a huge component of the American lifestyle. I would how this change would effect those sorts and other extracurriculars.

  15. josephrabinovitsj on December 7th, 2012 11:57 pm

    It seems as if American school districts are feeling pressure from education systems that stress educational grit to increase the number of hours in the school year. Now, I don’t believe that educational grit is bad, I rather believe that one should have a degree of doggedness when it comes to work ethic. However, one advantage to the American mentality towards education as it stands is the emphasis on thoughtfulness and reflection, a valuable skill and consideration that I believe risks being lost as a result of an elongated school year.

  16. adeal on December 14th, 2012 3:45 pm

    Shoot if this happened to us I would be so upset. I almost feel like its not worth adding the hours because of the uproar it will cause.

Increased Learning Time for Schools in 2013