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Should America Extend the School Day?

Science Under the Microscope

Should America Extend the School Day? When it comes to the school day, how long is too long?  

Educational technology leader, Will Richardson, recently said “If you're not uncomfortable right now in education, you're not paying attention”. It is clear that our American education needs to change in fundamental ways.

One of these seems to be the amount of time that our students spend in school. Compared to other industrialized nations, we spend an average of 15% less days in school each year. Efforts to extend the American school beyond its current 180 days have met with resistance from some parents (who think it immoral to rob a child of his summer break) and some teachers (who entered the profession for the 10-month work year), as well as many state and local governments (who have a hard enough time finding the money for school as it is).

 

This dilemma has led some in educational reform to suggest a more modest change: longer school days.

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Consider that extending each school day by one hour would add the equivalent of 26 extra school days--more than making up the discrepancy between the U.S. and other progressive nations. Or, alternatively, some proposals suggest adding two hours to the day and sending students to school only 4 days a week to get back to the same number of hours that students currently receive. So, what is the advantage of this extra time?

 

The National Center for Time and Learning released a study recently that shows that extra time in class, especially for impoverished or academically-challenged students, can make a big difference.

The NCTL’s database of extended-time schools shows that a statistically significant relationship between academic performance and time in school. The key is that this scholastic improvement includes not just mastery but also retention. Naturally, there must be an upper limit to this effect and much more research is needed, but it seems clear that if we are to close the achievement gap between students in our own country and between our students and foreign ones, we must consider changes to our obsolete, agrarian-based school calendar.

Do you think schools should lengthen the school day? Share you thoughts in the comments section!