For those of you who enjoy a good academic discussion, this paper is for you. It analyzes the impact of longer school days on student achievement in Columbia and uses data from this model to support the supposition that longer school days can be effective, particularly for low-income students.
Across the country, an educational revolution is taking root. Kids are learning more. Teachers are free to teach beyond the test. And parents aren’t worried about what their kids are up to after school. What accounts for this change? The simple answer is, “More time to learn.” Using an additional one to two hours, the new school day reworks the schedule so that children can master core academic subjects and receive more support.
So, what do the studies say? Here is a collection of ten different studies that seem to have contradicting findings. Each link is worth a read, as they work in conjunction to help form a cogent opinion on the subject. No one seems to have a definitive answer, however, and so the debate rages on.
The goal of education is to help children learn and give them the needed skills to move forward intellectually and emotionally. The benefit of adding an extra hour to a school day is entirely dependent on how that hour is filled. A student's age also seems to be an important variable in this debate.
How much is too much? Does a shift from a 6.5 hour school day to 8 solid hours make sense for all involved? There are parents to consider and the extra expense of paying teachers and straining what is already a very lean budget.
Through this short but sweet description, some very real concerns about lengthening a school day are brought to light. While adding hours may sound like a positive step, for students and teachers it can have some serious consequences around fatigue and stress, not to mention it can be costly and devoid of real progress.
The idea of extended learning time (ELT) has taken on new urgency as we continue to compete in a global economy of innovation and development. Many countries in Asia already have considerably longer schools days and you will find some interesting ideas here about how American schools can create extra time and more importantly, successful student outcomes.
This excerpt from the book "Time to Learn: How a New School Schedule is Making Smarter Kids, Happier Parents & Safer Neighborhoods" presents a lively discussion on how a longer school day can, in fact, support achievement in many ways and expose students to a broader range of subjects. The book is available for purchase if you want to learn more.