Putting Education Reform To The Test

Students Benefit From More Class Time, If Used Wisely

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More schools are considering longer days or extending the calendar.

Students who spend more time in class will perform better in class and on standardized tests. But schools must focus on individual student needs, assessment and staff training.

That’s the conclusion of a National Center on Time and Learning report looking at programs in 30 schools which add time to the school day or extend the calendar beyond the traditional 180 days.

Many foreign countries spend more time in class than the U.S., and education experts argue its one reason those countries outperform U.S. students on international exams.

Florida is requiring an extra hour of class time for the 100 schools which registered the lowest scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Lawmakers approved the requirement earlier this year.

StateImpact Florida also told you about a Tampa middle school that improved its school grade to an A from an F after requiring after-school math tutoring. Students earning a top score on the FCAT math exam were exempt from the extra tutoring. But Principal Yolanda Capers said most attended anyway.

The report looks at 30 case study schools — none in Florida — to point out examples of what’s working.

The Aspire network of school in California, for instance, develops a lesson plan for each student. Those plans are then divided into 15-minute segments to make sure the student is getting the most from every minute spent in school.

Another suggestion is to emphasize attendance. The amount of class time from missing a day of school can add up quickly.

Boston’s Clarence Edwards Middle School organized “academic leagues,” small groups of students with similar shortcomings who meet for an hour several days a week. Each student gets a custom-tailored academic plan.

Charter schools, led by the KIPP network, frequently adopt longer school days. Florida charter schools are not tied to district calendars and are free to extend their day or the school year, according to the state Department of Education.


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