Studies provide insight into the concept of longer school days
August 19, 2008
Expanded Learning Time in Action
Taking Stock of the Fiscal Costs of Expanded Learning Time
Center for American Progress
Last month, the Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning, political policy research and advocacy organization that supports more time in school, released a pair of reports addressing the benefits of adding at least 30 percent to class time in low-income, high-minority schools as well as the financial challenges confronting school districts introducing the changes.
More class time allows schools to add instruction blocks in key academic areas such as 90-minute periods for reading, math and science, according to the first report, Expanded Learning Time in Action. Good charter schools, like KIPP (see here), add about 360 extra hours of instruction a year. They hire teachers and tell them they are expected to work 50 percent longer than traditional teachers. In return, teachers will receive 20 or 30 percent more in salary. The teachers buy into this because they see higher student achievement. Traditional public schools are also lengthening learning time, but usually by lesser amounts.
The second report, Taking Stock of the Fiscal Costs of Expanded Learning Time, looks at the financial considerations involved in lengthening teaching time. Because most districts have strict salary schedules, paying for a longer day is more complicated than just boosting everyone's paycheck a set percentage. Increasing salaries for experienced, higher-paid teachers, for example, costs more than for lower-paid, new teachers. Also, if retirement benefits depend on total salaries, these increases will mean higher retirement spending in later years.