Indiana News

Expert: Payoff Worth the Cost of Adding Hours to School Year

12/4/2012


Some states are about to find out if keeping kids in school for more days out of the year will help student achievement.  One expert believes it would help Indiana students as well.

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As soon as next month, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in a three-year pilot program that will boost the amount of time some students spend in the classroom by up to 300 hours per year.  Terry Spradlin, director for education policy at the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at I.U., says that would increase classroom time for students by about one-third, and he believes that will lead to higher test scores and other measurements of achievement.

A combination of federal, state and local funds will cover the costs of expanded learning time, with the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning also chipping in dollars in this program. Spradlin says Indiana would have to find a way to fund additional classroom hours if it decided to do so, but he believes the payoff in student performance would be worth the cost.  Spradlin says at-risk and low-income students would especially benefit since they typically don't have the same amount of interaction with parents or guardians at home during the summer months and other times they are away from school.

Spradlin says other developed nations, particularly Asian countries like Japan, Singapore and South Korea, already have longer school calendars than the US, which he says is one reason why our students are falling behind those in other countries.

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