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Does a Longer School Day Mean Higher Achievement?


Guess what, kids? Since you're still not performing up to par, you get to go to school an extra 300 hours a year! At least in some schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee. 


These 5 states agree with Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, that more school time will increase student achievement. So, they’re working with districts to compel 20,000 students in 40 schools to increase time in school.


I wrote about this during the Chicago Teacher Strike and in the comments, most of you were against it.


So what are the pros and cons of lengthening the school day?



  1. More time for enrichment activities and instruction. (If everything goes as planned.)
  2. Easier for working parents.



1.  Not supported by research or anecdotal evidence. For example, South Korea, Finland and Japan perform better than American students and already spend less time in school than we do.

2. Teachers unions don’t want to work longer hours. Convincing them otherwise will be challenging.

3. Funding is an issue. The 5 states in this 3–year trial are getting money from federal, state, and district funds plus funding from the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time and Learning.


My Take

We must not confuse quantity with quality. First we must improve the quality of teaching for all students, not just the lucky few who get skilled instructors. Adding more time with poor teachers won’t help anyone. 


I agree with teacher Adam Heenan who writes:

We don’t need a longer school day; we need a “Better School Day” replete with study hall, recess, fully resourced classrooms, and schools that don’t resemble prisons. 

We need healthy meals and physical education that burns off enough of students’ energy to help them focus on writing and reading when they sit still. 

We need theatre, music, and arts education so students have something to write and read about. 

We need civic education to teach students how to leverage power in the world, especially as they become adults.

I think if we saw these changes, we might see that six and a half hours each day (eight, when we include homework and studying) would be well-spent, resulting in young people ready for society by the time they graduate.


What do you think? Comment here.