Longer school days do not always boost student learning

Are more school hours worth the cost?

It depends, but so far research hasn’t always justified the expense, says Patte Barth, director of the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education (CPE), in a blog for the Huffington Post.

Adding hours to a school day seems logical, and often is popular with parents and policymakers. But it’s costly and research on the practice has been mixed, she writes. Studies so far indicate that the success of extended time depends on how the time is used—whether it is for academics or extracurricular activities—and the quality of curriculum and teaching.

“The gains aren’t always spectacular especially in relation to the expense,” Barth writes for the blog.

She points to a recent CPE report, “Time in School: How Does the U.S. Compare?” that did not find a strong correlation between time and student outcomes in other countries—Finland, which boasts top rankings, requires the least hours compared to low-scoring Italy which requires the most, Barth says.

“Other research shows that more school time can relate to more learning, as long as the time is focused on academic learning,” she writes. “Year-round schooling can also be helpful by preventing summer learning loss and the need to spend the first weeks of school reviewing material that’s already been taught, which is arguably a waste of the time schools already have.”

Barth gives tips to schools that are looking to add more time or maximize students’ time already spent at school. Read the Huffington Post  for more advice.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 6th, 2013|Categories: Assessment, Budgeting, Center for Public Education, Curriculum, Data Driven Decision Making, School Reform|Tags: , , , |

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