Adding extra time to the day or year is easier said than done, according to areleased last week by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington research organization.
And the report says it’s far too early to say whether federal incentives to encourage schools to add learning time really have moved the needle much on student achievement, in part because it’s early going and in part because extended learning time is usually paired with other strategies.
Among some of the implementation issues cited in the report, which focuses on 17 low-performing schools in four states:
• Extended learning time is expensive. States that got waivers from No Child Left Behind requirements were given access to increased resources—control over 20 percent of their Title I funding for disadvantaged kids. And the department encouraged states to spend those dollars on school improvement efforts, including additional learning time. But the states studied didn’t tend to spend money on adding instructional time, opting more often for less expensive after-school programs.
• Everyone does extended learning time differently. Some schools added to the school day, others to the school year. And others added instructional time without lengthening the school day or calendar.
•Longer instructional blocks were hard on both teachers and students. Some schools chose to shift the extra time to teacher collaboration; others added enrichment activities or enlisted community partners.
A version of this article appeared in the January 21, 2015 edition of Education Week as Time and Learning