Trend Name: Lengthening the school day

Basic Summary of Trend: Los Angeles area have lengthened their school day to help at-risk students. Many of the programs are extended until six p.m.and has an extended school year of 195 days. Other schools are on a year round schedule to add on more academics. Geoffrey Canada’s Promise Academy is an example in Harlem New York of this trend, with the school day spanning from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the school year runs through August.

Key Manifestations:Miami, on the other side of the United States, Superintendent of schools Rudy Crew created a School Improvement Zone for thirty nine schools where the performance of academics were at an all time low. In the United States, the typical school day lasts six hours and the school year numbers 180 days. In contrast, other industrialized countries, such as England, provide up to eight hours of schooling a day, 220 days a year. In 2005, Boston, Springfield, Cambridge, and at least 17 other Massachusetts school districts extend the day in some of their schools, rejecting the traditional 180-day, 6-hour schedule because educators believed there is not enough time to teach students what they need to know. Massachusetts became the first state to officially sanction a longer schedule.

Key Personnel: Children all over the United States, School Improvement Zone. In Massachusetts, in the forefront of the movement, Gov. Deval L. Patrick is allocating $6.5 million this year (2007) for longer days with the demand from 84 schools that have expressed interest. Gov. Eliot Spitzer of New York has proposed an extended day as one of five options for his state’s troubled schools, part of a $7 billion increase in spending on education over the next four years. Gov. M. Jodi Rell of Connecticut is proposing to lengthen the day at persistently failing schools as part of a push to raise state spending on education by $1 billion.

Why/How trend: The idea of a longer day was first promoted in charter schools — public schools that are tax-supported but independently run. But the surge of interest has been spurred largely by the federal No Child Left Behind law, which requires annual testing of students, with increasingly dire consequences for schools that fall short each year, including possible closing. Pressed by the demands of the law, school officials who support longer days say that much of the regular day must concentrate on test preparation. With extra hours, they say, they can devote more time to test readiness, if needed, and teach subjects that have increasingly been dropped from the curriculum, like history, art, drama.Many schools across the United States are also thinking about lengthening their school days and academic year to incorporate at-risk children. It is becoming popular not only in California, but to other states like Florida as well. Many are against lengthening the school day; administrators, who worry about the cost; teachers, whose unions say they work hard enough as it is, and have sought more pay and renegotiation of contracts; and parents, who say their children spend enough time in school already.