States Sign On to Add More Time to School Day

By Nora Fleming — December 03, 2012 2 min read
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The governors of Connecticut and Colorado joined with education leaders in Washington today to announce the launch of a new partnership between five states, the Ford Foundation, and the National Center on Time & Learning to expand learning time in more of the nation’s schools. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also was on hand to launch the initiative.

The states—Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee—will be supported by a $3 million investment from the Ford Foundation to redesign their school calendars with at least 300 additional hours. So far, 11 districts will be part of the new project, called the TIME, Time for Innovation Matters in Education, Collaborative.

In his comments, Mr. Duncan focused on the value of time in closing the “opportunity” rather than “achievement” gap for disadvantaged students who “need time to learn more.”

“The goal here is not more time, the goal is more learning,” he said. “This has the kernels of a national movement, but we are in our infancy and have a long ways to go. In my opinion, we’re moving far too slowly.”

The secretary added that he thought the number of schools—now roughly 1,000—with expanded learning time models needed to increase, but that ELT wasn’t necessarily the right strategy for all the 100,000 schools in the country.

Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, Gov. John Hickenlooper, of Colorado, both Democrats, Ford Foundation President Luis A Ubinas, and Chris Gabrieli, co-founder and chairman of the National Center on Time & Learning also addressed those at the event.

Panel discussions with state and district leaders in the five states were led by Education Week‘s own Virginia Edwards, president and editor-in-chief. Panelists discussed the challenges of implementing ELT on the ground and addressed questions about how to work with local leaders, teachers, and parents, who are key to the implementation process.

In addition to the presentations and panels, the National Center on Time & Learning released a new report at the event, “Mapping the Field,” which examines trends and common practices among the nation’s 1,002 public expanded learning time schools.

A few of the findings:

  • The nation’s ELT schools are 40 percent traditional public schools, 60 percent charter.
  • They aim to serve high-needs, disadvantaged students.
  • They tend to be newer schools.
  • On average, they have 7.8-hour school days.

    As most of you know from discussions of expanded learning on this blog, ELT proponents say that school leaders should decide how best to spend the added time in a redesign, but it should be used to improve academics, provide enriching experiences, and allow for more professional development for teachers. Most commonly, schools adding hours or days tend to see the additional time as a way to close the achievement gap for those students falling behind, particularly those with disadvantaged backgrounds.

    The Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning have also speared the Time for Innovation Matters in Education (TIME) to Succeed, an initiative to raise awareness about expanded learning.

    Stay tuned for an upcoming story that takes a deeper look at the topic of today’s ELT news.

    Photo: (from left) Chris Gabrieli, Dannel Malloy, Arne Duncan, John Hickenlooper: Education Week

  • A version of this news article first appeared in the Beyond School blog.