Negative study on longer school day

From PAA’s Leonie Haimson on NYC Public School Parents blog: 

Yet another negative study that finds that extended time made little difference in terms of achievement or teacher attitudes.

This one, from Abt Associates, examined the results of the much-touted Massachusetts expanded learning time initiative, which provides state funding to selected schools to increase their class time 25-30% over the district average.

So far the research is quite thin that this is the answer to low student achievement, despite the fact that the Gates folks (and their think tanks) continue to push it.

In a summary of the studies on extended time in “School Reform Proposals: The Research Evidence”, noted researcher Gene Glass found that increases in the time allocated for schooling would be expensive and would not produce appreciable gains in academic achievement – especially as compared to smaller classes. Glass concluded:

”Within reason, the productivity of the schools is not a matter of the time allocated to them. Rather it is a matter of how they use the time they already have.”

Yet even when citing the Abt study, Elena Silva of Education Sector persists in claiming, “Research on the need for expanded learning opportunities for low-income kids is incontrovertible—without extra learning achievement gaps are sure to persist.”

Really? As yet another review of the literature on extended time concluded a few years ago:

“Research reveals a complicated relationship between time and learning and suggests that improving the quality of instructional time is at least as important as increasing the quantity of time in school.”

Indeed, the quality of classroom time, not quantity, is what counts most. Guess who wrote the above statement in 2007? Elena Silva of Education Sector.

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Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.