March 19, 2013

Your Turn: Longer School Days


Julian: These students at Kuss Middle School in Fall River, Massachusetts hear the first bell at ten past seven.

People at this school experience a day that is 90 minutes longer than the average public school. Add it up and that is 300 more hours of school every year. And even though it is more work, teacher Jen Rezendes says the extra time allows her to teach back-to-back 45-minute math periods.

Jen Rezendes: I would rather teach here with the extended time because I don’t think I could teach everything I need to teach in that short 45-minute block.

Julian: English teacher Sharon Puopolo says she sees the difference in her students.

Sharon Puopolo: They’re understanding what they read on a deeper level. They may be not so gifted in one area as they are in another, and we’re able to address those needs and individualize the instruction.

Julian: This year, five states – Colorado, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York – are receiving federal funds to experiment with longer school days to boost student achievement. And officials say at least a thousand public schools like Kuss, in thirty-six different states, are now adopting longer school days.

Back in 2005, Kuss was labeled ‘chronically underperforming’ by the state of Massachusetts. Just two years later, the state began to support a longer school day with an extra $1,300 in funding per student per year. And the longer days seem to be working. The number of students scoring ‘proficient’ or ‘advanced’ on standardized tests has gone up 47% in math and 58% in English.

Fall River School Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown, who also has a sixth-grader at the school, says the longer days are worth it. Enrollment is up 30% and there is even a waiting list to get in.

Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown: There’s really no need to continue to schedule the school year and the school day in an old model.

Julian: Julian Dujarric, Channel One News.


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