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Longer School Days Are Coming to Some Massachusetts Schools

Massachusetts is one of five states to add 300 hours of class time every year for a handful of select schools. Will it help?

Will more time in school translate into greater student achievement?

Federal and state officials are announcing today that Massachusetts, along with Connecticut, New York, Tennessee and Colorado, are participating in a pilot program to find out.

Csmonitor.com reports that the program will add at least 300 hours of learning time in some schools starting next fall. 

Fall River and Lawrence are the two Massachusetts towns included in the pilot project. Boston.com reports that this new program adds to an effort launched six years ago in Massachusetts to lengthen the school day in several school districts.

The pilot program reportedly will last three years and include almost 20,000 students in 40 schools with an eye to bringing in more schools if it is effective, particularly lower-performing schools in poor communities. Each school district gets to decide exactly how the school time will be increased - either longer school days or more of them? Or both?

The pilot is part of a project called the TIME (Time for Innovation Matters in Education) Collaborative, a partnership between the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL). 

What do you think about this pilot project; do you think this is a constructive approach to improving student achievement?

Would it be helpful or useful in implemented in Danvers?

Tell us in the comments.

Richard Magill December 03, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Cant hurt, seems like they are not in school very much... snow days, early releases, ridiculous hollidays no one else observes. Sure its all union contract, but, how / when do they learn anything. Speaking from my experience with a step son that was in grammar schools in Danvers and Peabody, and from a son that went through Reading schools, NEU, and is in grad school now at UMD - Homework is over the top. Takes hours, and frequently student has no idea. Projects assigned wind up as projects for the parents, with the student watching, and being prompted to pay attention. Leaves it up to parents to teach, not necessarily a bad thing, but, our ideas are frequently in conflict with current school curriculum. The student is left dazed and confused, but had a good day in art, music, gym, recess, lunch, snack, and watching movies. Talk about "dumbing down of America", and we wonder why kids entering the work force have no work ethic, or somehow get to a good college, and can`t write a paper.
Nicholas James Rogers December 04, 2012 at 01:45 AM
I do not want to go to school longer, please don't make me, because if you could feel my pain, you would say the same thing. I still like school, but not that much. I would rather have more homework,then more school. I want the people who are reading this comment to take a minute to think of the kids out there who go to school six hours a day, and have to suffer the fear and loathing that is... school.
Sean Ward December 04, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Of course when you are a student or a teacher you want as much time off as possible. Imagine if you could get your hours to where teachers have? Summers off, 3 week long vacations during the other seasons, all the holidays they get, then a couple times a month they need more time off from the children so they have "professional development days" and "parent teacher conference days". It's no wonder kids come out of school unprepared to start working full days full time. Yes, we should start phasing in longer school days and more school days. Maybe just for high school.
carolyn kelleher December 04, 2012 at 05:02 PM
people who say teachers have a lot of time off have no idea what teachers do- the prep and gathering of tools and materials for each class- grading papers well into the night- workshops to keep current and improve skills- constant tutoring and meetings outside of school time- low pay and so much bureaucracy - please think again. Teachers have very little time off.
richard kee December 04, 2012 at 05:30 PM
If the school day was a little longer I don’t think it would hurt anyone and it could only help our children. My vote for more school hours has always been to eliminate the February vacation which I find over the top, they just had a week off in December and another one coming up in April. What I don’t like is summer vacation starting so late in June or ending before Labor Day, so let’s not go there.
Karen Brown December 04, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Having longer school days is not necessarily better for the students and I fear it will be bad for some kids that struggle in school already. If they are planning on doing that they should use the time for extra help and getting homework done. Let the students get all their work done during school hours if they are going to extend the days. Any moron can figure out that adding hours to get a quality education and doing that does not equate to getting a better education. Smaller class sizes, more extracurricular activities, debate clubs, drama clubs, sports, science lab projects, the arts, and time for creative learning are what is needed if they are going to extend days and all these things cost money. No one is talking about what they are planning to do with the longer school days. If they are talking about making the day longer, what are they going to do in that time?? Adding quantity of hours rather than quality of hours doesn’t seem to make any sense.
carolyn kelleher December 04, 2012 at 06:03 PM
I agree Karen - there is plenty of time in our school day as is and still loads of homework comes home. I see homeschooling students done and out the door to play by 1pm every day and they are accomplishing steller academic results. More time is not needed- better management and priorities of the time already allotted is what's needed. Pity the poor kid already faltering in a dysfunctional setting
richard kee December 05, 2012 at 04:32 AM
If the quality is already there, which it is from the teachers my children have had, then it also doesn’t take a moron to figure out that a little more time with them is a good thing and that the kids that are struggling could use the extra help.
Sean Ward December 06, 2012 at 04:05 AM
People in other office jobs do this too. We take work home, finish projects well into the night, put in weekends, prep and gather materials for meetings or presentations, review and correct new peoples work, take classes to keep current on new technologies and skills, travel all around the country to have meetings with clients without seeing our families for days. The only difference is everyone else does it year round and until later in the day. Don't get me wrong I think most teachers are great, I just think if we expect public educations to ever compete with private educations and if we want our children to stop falling behind other countries it might not hurt to put in more time. Maybe then more people would be willing to discuss higher teacher pay.
Sean Ward December 06, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Karen, Some of the best private schools go to 4:30. The last two hours is study halls, sports, music, theater and other extracurricular activities that are mandatory. This allows more focus on academics during classroom hours and allows subject teachers to coach, monitor studies, or run after school activities when the academics are done for the day. I always wondered why public schools didn't try to imitate this model.
Sean Ward December 06, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Homeschooling is done sooner because the teacher doesn't have pace themselves for the slowest kid in the class. They don't have to waste time on topics the kid already understands.
carolyn kelleher December 06, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Sean, I agree with you- homeschooling families are able to adjust their curriculum to fit all learning styles and aren't under the same bureaucratic constraints of programs like no child left behind and constant policy headaches that affect classroom management. As far as the workload you describe in the private sector we are a family that lives under those same workloads-- my husband is in design and advertisement. Most teachers work almost year round as well -coming from a family of teachers the whole summer off scenario doesn't happen in reality. Teachers have to work often in the summer to make up for income due to low salaries, take workshops to stay current and often work in the school district for summer school and other academic needs to be met. Also given the amount of vacation, sick time and flex time in the private sector and the higher pay you might be surprised to find out who does have more vacation time. I can also say the clientele being served is very different - you may serve 10 different companies at any given time (and usually as a fairly large team) but you have to see each of the often 30 or more students as a separate 'company' and only one teacher to meet all that demand. Richard it is sad we can't have a mature exchange of ideas without the word moron coming into play, but having been in a classroom I can tell you that adding more time to the school day will not guarantee more time for a struggling student.
carolyn kelleher December 06, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Also I do agree with you Sean about how private schools use their extended time better by developing the whole person with the extracurricular activities and the built in homework time-- when I went to school for education and then entered the public school system I could not believe how much of what we knew to be good education did not get translated into the actual school day.
richard kee December 07, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Carolyn, did you read the post I replied to
rachel January 04, 2013 at 03:19 PM
I agree. to add to that, Let kids be kids, let them enjoy their childhood. They are forced to grow up so fast these days. Let them do more extracurricular activities or come home and play with their friends. They shouldn't have to grow up so fast, childhood is a precious gift we can't take that away. They're only little for a short amount of time then they have to go out into the real world for the rest of their life. Leave the school day alone.

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