Saturday, February 10, 2007

On the Clock: Rethinking the Way Schools Use Time

The NPR segment was triggered by an Education Sector report and forum on the topic of extending the school day and year.  Below is a summary and you can download the 14-page report at:
As schools across the country struggle to meet the demands of the federal No Child Left Behind Act and their state accountability systems, educators are searching for ways to raise student achievement. Increasing numbers of school and district leaders are turning to one of the most fundamental features of the public education system: the amount of time students spend in school.

The addition and improvement of the use of time was at the top of the list of recommendations in a report, Getting Smarter, Becoming Fairer: A Progressive Education Agenda for a Stronger Nation, issued last year by a national task force on public education comprised of political, business and education leaders. States and school districts around the country are considering dozens of proposals for extending the school day and year ranging from lengthening the school day by several hours to extending the school year by days, weeks or months.

My take is that an extended school day and year is a critical element of reform, especially for schools with large numbers of below-grade-level students, bearing in mind that this comment by the author of the Education Sector report is exactly right:
Ms. ELENA SILVA (Education Sector): If these schools are not functioning well, the notion that extending time in and of itself is going to improve instruction, it’s going to improve the learning opportunities of those kids is simply an error in judgment.
People have a natural tendency to look for one 100% solution to the problem of our failing schools, but in truth, the answer is that we need 100 1% solutions.

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