A small number of schools in Connecticut, Colorado, New York and Tennessee will join Massachusetts in adding 300 more hours to the schedule. They can be used to extend the number of hours in the school day, the number of total school days or a combination.
In 2006, the Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time Initiative started with ten schools. The 300 hours could be used to address whatever students needed for higher achievement. After four years, there was significant progress in MCAS scores. Today, 19 schools are part of the program.
Mary Claffey Janeczek is Chair of the Division of Education at Elms College. She said adding learning time can make a difference but only if you use it to do something different.
“If you just added hours and gave more of the same tutoring that wasn’t working very effectively for a particular student, that’s a waste of time and energy,” said Janeczek. “What you want to do is think, what can we do differently. What is not happening in a regular school day that we can do for a particular child with a particular need.”
And she thinks schools should really think out of the box, perhaps adding back in some physical education or health classes.
“I think we could do with an infusion of the arts whether that’s music, chorale music, instrumental music or any of the visual arts,” she said. “Things like internships, service learning, apprenticeships where they actually get to see careers that they might be interested in.”
For those considering extending the school year into the summer, Janeczek said limitation might be the cost of air conditioning.