Thursday, June 14, 2007

Do longer hours equal more learning?

The Christian Science Monitor asked that question in a headline today.

I won't tease you. The answer is 'Yes' - provided you plan right and get buy-in from parents, teachers and the community. (It's true some students don't like it, but an awful lot do.)

This experiment involving 10 schools in Massachusetts has specific lessons for every school district trying to help our young students prepare themselves for college, for work and for life.

The schools got $1,300 per student to add between 25 and 30 percent more time for their students to learn. They had to add extra time for core subjects like reading and math, enrichment classes and - this is very important - professional development for teachers.

Teachers spend more time in the classroom and are paid for the additional time.  The president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association said that teachers in the pilot schools were "shocked" at how satisfying it was to teach a longer day.

At Salemwood Elementary School in Malden, Mass., which was profiled in the paper, more than 100 teachers and staff were given the option of transferring rather than adapting to the longer schedule; just three left.

Families with students in the pilots had the same option. Fifty families left Salemwood ... but 70 others enrolled.

But let's go back to that headline. What were the results? I leave you with this from the article:

Of the parents surveyed by Massachusetts 2020 at three of the pilot schools, 77 percent said their child was doing better in school as a result of the expanded schedule."


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