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Longer School Year: Helpful or Harmful?
posted by: Ruthie | January 14, 2013, 10:22 PM   

Recently, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee transitioned to a three-year pilot program that adds 300 hours to the school year. The program will affect nearly 20,000 students in 40 schools. The news comes on the heels of bipartisan recommendations from both lawmakers and reform advocates who are calling for increased instruction time.

Supporters argue that students tend to lose too much knowledge during the long summer break. According to recent data, this fact is unarguable. "The research is very clear," said Charles Ballinger, executive director emeritus of the National Association for Year-Round School in San Diego, California. "The only students who don't lose are the upper 10 to 15 percent of the student body. Those tend to be gifted, college-bound, they're natural learners who will learn wherever they are."

Other supporters of this new system maintain it would give students access to more nutritious lunches and provide them with a safer environment for a greater portion of the year.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been a vocal supporter of a longer school year. "Whether educators have more time to enrich instruction or students have more time to learn how to play an instrument and write computer code, adding meaningful in-school hours is a critical investment that better prepares children to be successful in the 21st century."

Despite the push for increased school hours, not everyone is sold on the idea. Many parents think their children need the time off school to be active, grow, and exercise their creativity. Others argue that without summers off, the economy would see an adverse effect.

A contrasting 2007 study by Ohio State University found virtually no difference in the academic gains of students who followed a traditional nine-month school calendar and those educated the same number of days spread across the entire year.

In the midst of balancing the expectations of all stakeholders, the U.S. still needs to compete globally. Asian and European students who spend more time in school are exceeding American children in learning pace. However, Finland is also exceeding the U.S. in student performance, but their students spend less time in school.

What do you think about increasing instruction time?

Comment below.

Comments (2)Add Comment
Finnish Language Creates False Picture
written by Susan in Nebraska, January 16, 2013

Don't believe the hype about the Finns, Read the good reporting by education scholar Gerald Bracey, who pointed out that Finnish is a language with a much smaller vocbulary than English. The example he gave was the word "red" -- there are only two words for that color in Finnish, but 18 in English. When these international tests are given for comparison purposes, the Finns have a huge advantage because the English has to be "dumbed down" into their smaller vocabulary to make sense fir the innish students. For example, the English version of a reading question might contain the word "sanguine," a fairly obscure synonym for "red," but in the test the Finniish kids see, the word will be "red" -- much, much easier to understand. See?
Increasing Instruction Time
written by Anne in California, January 16, 2013

Look at the research on the schools in Finland. The students do so well because they are not tested to death, and the teachers are paid like professionals and are allowed to be creative in their teaching. We don't need more time in the classroom. We need an overhaul in what education looks like!

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