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5 states to increase class time in some schools

A three-year pilot program will add 300 hours of learning time to help boost achievement.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Dec 3, 2012 8:04PM

In an effort to step up student achievement, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee announced today a three-year pilot program that will affect nearly 20,000 students reports Newser. Initially, the program will roll out in 35 schools, which will extend both the school day and the school year during the 2013-14 academic year, The New York Times reports.

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The 300 extra hours of classroom time is meant to help underperforming students stay globally competitive on standardized tests and allow more access to enrichment activities like art and music, reports The Associated Press. Already, more than 1,000 U.S. schools operate on expanded schedules, an increase of 53 percent over 2009, reports the AP.

Increased classroom time has been a long-time priority for Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “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,” Duncan was quoted in a statement to the AP.

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The programs will be run by state education officials and subsidized with federal, state, and district funds as well as resources from the National Center on Time & Learning and the Ford Foundation, which is committing $3 million a year in grants over the next three years.

According to the AP, not everyone is convinced about this extension in class time. A report last year from the National School Boards Association's Center for Public Education pointed out that a number of nations that are out-educating the United States - Finland, Japan and South Korea, for example - actually spend fewer hours in school than most U.S. students.

So, if extra learning time is the not the solution, how do we celebrate great teachers, strengthen the educational system and give students the tools they need to succeed in the 21st century? Discuss with others on our Facebook page...

Read the fully story at The New York Times.

Bing: The argument for an extended school day

Photo: Image Source/Getty Images

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140Comments
Dec 4, 2012 12:37AM
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Yay! More tax money spent on terrible classes that teach kids nothing!
Dec 4, 2012 12:35AM
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It is nice they have money to do this.  The schools in our town, here in California are cutting their class  year.  The teachers had to take fouloughs, so it cut our school year by 5 days. 
Dec 4, 2012 12:27AM
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While we are not in any of the states mentioned, I agree that schools should make better use of the hours students are currently in attendance.  My high school student has to wake up while it's still dark to catch a 6:30 a.m. bus, which is, in itself, absurd.  There are many school days during which the students watch movies or do nothing just to fill the required number of days.  It would be really great if the teachers were actually teaching on all the required school days, especially since the children have to keep such ridiculous hours to be there. 

Dec 4, 2012 12:24AM
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EauNeau, that's exactly what it is.  I'm glad someone got it!
Dec 4, 2012 12:20AM
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I think this is good as long as one thing, one very important thing happens. In the new, what sounds like 7 1/2 hr school day vs 6 (not including lunch) they must include all work so that there is absolutely no assigned homework after school.
Kids need a life outside of studies. and most have home chores and of course dinner time etc. Everyone should be striving for all human beings to have a balanced therefore harmonious life. 8 hrs sleep, 8 hrs work/school, and other time 2 hrs for meals, 2 hrs keeping up oneself appearance (shower etc), keeping up the home and a couple of hours of just fun down time each day. We are humans not robots. At least not yet.
So bottom line the extra school time should eliminate homework which is often at least 1 1/2 hrs a day.

Dec 4, 2012 12:19AM
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Budget cut on top of budget cut has already depleted teachers, programs and transportation, and now you want to add to the already burdened system by adding more hours to the school year. That means more costs on the transportation side (fuel, maintenance, drivers etc) as well as increasing the hours teachers work.

 Adding more time is the classroom is not going to change tests scores. I would have to agree with the parents being involved in the children and their schools.

Dec 4, 2012 12:18AM
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I live in Colorado, they've been telling us they were going to do this for two years now. We already have a few schools in the state that go year round. Basically its 9 weeks on and three weeks off.
When you look at it that way its not too bad. For those that are single parents with little support it will be helpful in that will be able to put some of that money back to the kid and not pay for a sitter. Also have more time to spend with their kids!
My kids goto a local charter school and they attend a normal day. They rarely have homework as the school's philosophy is that the kids learn enough during the day that they need a break once they get home. The teacher's only require reading and a little math practice if you are needing more help. I have their books on CD for the computer and one of them is actually a tutor one for more practice. It really helps and my kiddos love their school better than the one they were at before.
Their teachers really care about their success and do a great job.
The main reason for this change is how much the kids lose over the summer.
This is a legitimate gripe because the first two months of school every year is covering last year's studies.
Can you imagine being off from work for three months and coming back in and being expected to remember everything you had done before you left for summer break?
Also. could you function well in college with such a huge break? Probably not.
There needs to be accountability in the school from the administration at the NEA right down to the teachers at the local level.
The parents should have more say in where their tax money is being invested in the school. We don't need another play ground or new sod on the football field. We need teachers to have smart boards, computers, science labs, art programs as well as drama and music, creative writing, and please bring back vo-tec! Also business classes and real world classes to prepare them to enter the work place. NOT EVERY KID IS MADE OUT FOR COLLEGE! Yes I said it, college is not the end all in life. People do forgo the expensive education and find meaningful and productive jobs that pay decent and have happier lives because they are not in debt up to their eyeballs till their 30's!
Change is always an adjustment. No one likes it but if this change is done correctly, it will be wonderful for the kids.
The main thing is that it can't remain to be more of the same. They are going to have to really make this benefit the kids and parents in more ways than more work and more hours.

Dec 4, 2012 12:04AM
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Wow, my mother works for the state of Tennessee as a teacher in Knoxville. She already has so many kids that are unwilling to learn no matter how hard she tries to teach them. This will drive her even more insane and will give her even more work to do on top of the stuff she is already having to do per the state. Education has gone down the drain in this country and I don't see how extending the school hours and days in school will improve it. I agree with BStacy. They need to make better use of the time they already have in schools. Instead of always giving them standardized tests every other month in which the teachers have to prepare them for on top of what the curriculum requires they should do only one standardized test if they must at the end of school over everything they learned that year and none of this in-between crap. Lots of my friends are teachers and they are fed up with the crap they have to put up with
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