Metro to increase class time in some schools - WKRN News 2

Metro to increase class time in some schools

Posted: Updated: Dec 3, 2012 05:22 PM

An estimated 2,000 students and hundreds of teachers in several Nashville schools will soon be spending longer days in the classroom beginning a year and a half from now.

They will be part of a collaborative national pilot program from the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center on Time and Learning to see if increased class time can boost achievement and offer more exposure to extracurricular activities like art and athletics.

Up to four Metro Schools will be selected over the next year.

Among the schools that could be part of the program is Napier Enhanced Option which is less than two miles southeast of downtown Nashville.

Principal Dr. Ronald Powe told Nashville's News 2 that he's been involved in the planning for the extra hours that would likely begin in the 2014-15 school year, although he is more of an advocate for year round school "so that kids retain more."

The debate over longer school hours in the day has long raged among educators and teachers.

Those for it say it would narrow the growing "achievement gap" between affluent and non- affluent students.

Wealthier parents can often supplement their kid's education with private classes, tutors, camps or extracurricular activities while the less-affluent cannot.

"Adding to the school day allows schools to give them the same individualized attention, the same added homework help and tutoring and the same opportunities to develop their musical, arts, drama, athletic and other dimensions," said Christopher Gabrieli and Warren Goldstein, the authors of an often-quoted study called Time to Learn: How A New School Schedule is Making Smarter Kids, Happier Parents, and Safer Neighborhoods.

The authors cite Massachusetts where the state tested the Expanded Learning Time Initiative and added about two hours to the school day. Participating schools narrowed the achievement gap in English by 35% and science by almost 15%.

Critics have pointed to the cost, which could by some estimates be in the range of $1,200 to $1,300 per student.

Teachers have wondered about extra pay for the increased hours.

In a statement late Monday morning from Metro Nashville Public Schools, the district said "those schools have not been selected yet," but it went on to say:

Selected schools will have the opportunity to:

  • Re-engineer their school schedule to add significantly more time for all students (to reach a total of 1,440 hours per year) to expand opportunities for learning, enrichment and collaboration to improve student achievement, engagement, and teacher effectiveness
  • Receive annual capacity building grants 
  • Receive technical assistance on effective implementation from NCTL at no cost, including:
    • School planning and implementation support that includes several full-day training sessions for school leadership teams conducted and individualized school-based coaching. School teams will benefit from NCTL's tools and resources including case studies, sample schedules, videos on effective practices, webinars on key topics and opportunities to tour high-performing expanded time schools and learn from experienced practitioners.
    • District support - In addition to working closely with school teams, NCTL will support district teams in addressing common operational, financial and staffing issues that affect participating schools, aligning the TIME Collaborative with key district priorities, facilitating community outreach, monitoring progress, and supporting schools in continuous improvement.
  • Join an online network of educators from across the country to share extended learning time resources

Several Metro schools, including the district's enhanced option schools and charter schools already offer extended learning time and have done so for a number of years.

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