Florida will expand the number of schools required to add an extra hour of reading instruction this fall, Education Week reports.
Two years ago lawmakers required the 100 elementary school with the lowest scores on the state reading test to add an extra hour for reading. Now, the 300 lowest-scoring schools will have to add time.
School leaders told Education Week being tagged as low-performing is a stigma, but the extra time is good for students:
In an Education Week webinar about Florida’s extra-hour initiative, Debbie Battles, the elementary curriculum director for the Palm Beach County school district, said putting a positive spin on the requirement helped 15 out of 16 schools in her district move off the lowest-performing list.
“Being identified as a Low 100—that is not a designation that any school principal wants,” Battles said. Yet, she noted, principals “shared with their faculties and communities that the extra hour shouldn’t be viewed as a punishment, (but) rather an opportunity that would really benefit every student as well as the teachers,” who all received additional training in teaching reading.
The state does not provide districts with extra money to add the hour, which can be a strain on district finances, Escambia County Schools Superintendent Malcolm Thomas told the Pensacola News Journal. He said it costs an average of $400,000 per school to extend the day. Still, he said, the extra hour is helpful.