Longer school days don't always lead to better performance

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Low-achieving school systems around the country are moving towards longer school days, in hopes of better test scores. But the extended day experiment, largely supported by federal money, doesn't always work, the non-profit education news site The Hechinger Report finds.

In the latest installment of a year-long look at the perils and successes of the expanded school day, reporter Melissa Bailey examines a low-performing Connecticut school's decision to add class time and to replace two thirds of its teaching staff. One year after Brennan-Rogers School's principal tacked on 85 minutes to the almost seven-hour school day, she nixed the plan. Teachers were burned out, and student performance remained flat, Bailey writes.

In Jefferson Parish, public school officials have extended classes when students need to catch up for another reason: bad weather. After Hurricane Issac swept through the New Orleans region in 2012 and forced almost all of system's 46,000 students to miss one week of school, Superintendent James Meza extended classes by 30 minutes for five months. The move boded well for students who, even without a hurricane, were academically behind, he said.

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