Cobb school board member: Increase length of school day and year to improve learning

In recommending Cobb County Schools consider an extended day and school year, school board member David Morgan waded into controversial waters: Does more time in the classroom lead to more learning?

At a school board meeting Wednesday, Morgan extolled the benefits of the longer school day being used by the charter school network Success Academy in New York.

KIPP, which operates charter schools in metro Atlanta, also employs a longer school day and school year; the days typically go from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the school year averages 192 days. The mandated school year in Georgia runs 180 days.

Stopwatch hanging on red ribbon against white background, close-upIt would seem a simple equation: More time ought to equal more learning. But, as with all educational innovations, there are caveats and contrary findings.

Students in many countries that outperform the United States spend less time in school, including Finland. The general consensus is simply adding more time is not enough if you don’t change instruction quality.

As Harris Cooper, a Duke University professor who leads the national research on year-round schools, told me once: “But no matter how much time kids are in school, what you do with that time is the most critical aspect.”

Cobb’s Morgan is not alone in seeing more time as a solution to low achievement, especially for at-risk kids who may not get any educational enrichment at home.

According to a recent study by the National Center on Time & Learning: In 2014 alone, at least 35 districts (across more than 10 states) announced that they are implementing or considering implementing a longer day and/or year in at least some schools.

In the preface to its study “Learning time in America: Trends to reform the American School Calendar,” the center advocates for longer school days, noting, “…conventional American school calendar too often poses an enormous impediment to educating the next generation. The core idea presented in Prisoners of Time, the 1994 report of the National Commission on Time and Learning, now rings truer than ever: In schools, learning should be the constant, and time must vary to serve the individual needs of students in achieving high standards. From this perspective, it has become clear that meeting the learning needs of many of our students— especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds— requires considerably more time than is available in the traditional calendar of 180 6.5-hour days.”

In its review of the impact of extended school days, Child Trend recommended more study in these areas:

•More research is needed to confirm and better understand the circumstances through which Extended School Days programs are more effective for low-income, lower-performing, and ethnic minority students. Many of the studies that suggest that these programs are more effective for these subgroups base this finding on the positive outcomes found in evaluated programs solely serving these populations; however, in some studies, outcomes for these groups were not statistically compared with outcomes for students who were not in poverty or who demonstrated higher academic performance in school.

•Researchers suggest many plausible reasons why positive gains for students attending schools with full-day kindergarten programs seem to fade out over time; therefore, future research efforts should focus on ways to better understand this pattern and identify ways to maintain these positive gains over time.

•Future studies examining the effectiveness of Extended School Days programs should not look solely at standardized test scores, but should examine additional educational outcomes as well.

•Future research efforts should incorporate findings about implementation into study results, including information on program quality, content, engagement, and time use.

 

Reader Comments 0

74 comments
DrJohnTrotter
DrJohnTrotter

@ProudUCLA, the 989 statute is not addressing the legality of teacher unions but stating that the complaints law (OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq.) was not allowing collective bargaining for teachers in Georgia.  Of course, collective bargaining was prohibited in other states too until teachers went on strike, like in Florida in 1968, to secure collective bargaining rights.  Teacher unions per se are not illegal in Georgia.  But, most teacher unions are ineffective and do indeed use the members' monies to endorse candidates.  I was on staff at GAE/NEA for six years before founding the Metro Association of Classroom Educators (MACE) in 1995.  MACE endorses no political candidates.  MACE protects and empowers classroom educators one member at a time.  MACE essentially devours administrators who abuse teachers.  www.theteachersadvocate.com.


Extending the school hours or the number of weeks will have negligible effects.  It's not the length of the day or year that matters.  What matters is freeing up the teachers to teach, allowing them to be creative with the students, and supporting them in matters of student discipline.  The Mantra at MACE has always been this, from the very beginning:  You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.


Bill and Melinda Gates and Eli and Edyth Broad are the billionaires who are driving public schools' agenda.  Ironically, they don't know their butts from deep centerfield when it comes to public schooling.  But, they have had their acolytes like the erstwhile U. S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, to do their bidding for them.  Bill and Melinda's kids have always attended the rich and tony Lakeside School in Seattle where the kids never have to suffer from the mindless standardized test and the scripted curricula that the Gateses rigorously push for public school children.

DrMonicaHenson
DrMonicaHenson

I am not convinced that it's a longer school day that produces better academic results. Research demonstrates that the single in-school factor that is most impactful is the quality of the classroom teacher. I do believe for students living in dangerous neighborhoods, without adequate after-school supervision, etc., a longer school day provides a safe and structured environment that may lead to academic improvement. 

newsphile
newsphile

A well rounded student is a better employer/employee long after school days are past.  Perhaps optional after school care for students who are struggling would be helpful.  Students could receive tutoring where needed.  I am opposed to a mandatory longer school day and/or school year.  Why punish successful students?  Let them continue doing what is working well! 

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

Oh, come on.It’s not hard to figure…

David Morgan, husband or estranged husband of Alisha Thomas Morgan.

Alisha Thomas Morgan, Graduate of Eli Broad’s unaccredited Superintendents Academy.

Eli Broad, advocate for longer school day and long school year, to wit:

“It would look like a national system,” said Broad, describing what he would see as a perfect education infrastructure. “Rather than having 14,000 school boards across America, it would get governors involved, big city mayors involved, and it would have a longer school day and a longer school year.”

GregoryM
GregoryM

Just adding more time is simplistic, right? As with many reforms, it's piecemeal, under-analyzed, and short-term. There are plenty of ways to improve public education but it's going to take imagination and willingness on the public's part to make it a priority, both culturally and financially.

Cere
Cere

One point to consider: School board members are elected to simply manage the budget and hire a qualified superintendent. Anything outside of that is not their job.  It is up to the staff of schools and districts to propose suggestions to the board - if they require a budget. School board members then approve or don't approve.  Is this being proposed by the superintendent or has David Morgan just decided to propose this on his own? This kind of 'meddling' is what will get the board in hot water with SACS.

satan
satan

Nonsense..no time for football practice. 

Enoch19
Enoch19

My view of my kids' education changed forever when I realized how much time is wasted in the typical public school day.  Not necessarily the fault of the teacher, mind you.  Other models get a lot more done in less time than public schools.  More time will not equal better results till the school system gets a handle on the wasteland of non-instructional time in the current school day.  

HollyJones
HollyJones

@Wascatlady @Enoch19 Being a sub in our local elementary school, I can attest to the fact that time is NOT being wasted.  In fact, some days it feels like I've run a marathon by the end of the day. I can only imagine how the teachers who do it day in and day out feel.   I would counter that there is too much crammed into a day.  We keep demanding more from our schools (more students in classes, more useless paperwork, more testing, more information to cover), yet giving them less with which to do it (fewer teachers, less planning time, fewer resources).  I am not advocating for a longer day or school year.  I would prefer we stop throwing information at our kids and praying that enough sticks for them to pass the Milestones tests.  I would suggest paring down what is required each year so kids can actually master some skills before moving on to the next topic.  

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@HollyJones @Wascatlady @Enoch19 Your experience is mine, compounded by DECADES of it.  I even had a principal who wanted us to drill children while they were in line to go to the toilet!  I kid you not!  Rather than "waste time" while making waste, she wanted flash cards used on the ones not on the pot! ISTG!

Tcope
Tcope

Another change Morgan needs to consider is starting High School later in the morning. There have been many studies showing that teens need more sleep and learn better with a later starting time for school. Every time this idea is brought up, the only real challenge to it revolves around bus schedules.

redweather
redweather

@Tcope Although bus schedules are a pretty big deal. Kids home alone after mom and dad leave for work, etc.

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

@Tcope Hey, get your kids up out of their beds and get their ***** to school.  Make 'em go to bed earlier.  Are you or are YOU NOT their parent?  

Godless
Godless

@An American Patriot @Tcope thats one of the big issues.  parents can't control their kids and they expect teachers to have good control of a classroom with 30 + students in it.... but when kids fail it is always the teachers fault.  crazy huh?  .  

dg417s
dg417s

@Calliope_ It is illegal for a professional association to use dues dollars to fund a political campaign. There is a separate, voluntary pot of money used for political purposes. I personally choose to donate to that fund in addition to my membership dues. It is recorded as a separate transaction on my end and goes to a separate account.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@dg417s 


Thank your for the factual information.  I thought that was the case, but I am glad to have it confirmed.

Calliope_
Calliope_

@dg417s @Calliope_ 

And according to the NEA it spent zero out of general funds last election cycle trying to elect Democrats. 

No one outside believes that.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Calliope_ 

You must be yet another transmogrification of EdUktr---your style and message are just the same.  As is Niobe. 

Astropig
Astropig

@Calliope_ @Quidocetdiscit @dg417s


Pretty soon this will all be a "mute" point (as one of my teachers once said). The SCOTUS is about to use a 2x4 on the teachers pseudo-unions,real unions and general riffraff that make up their movement when it rules in Friedrichs vs. Cal Teachers-next term. Legal observers are pretty unanimous that forcing teachers to pay for political speech that they disagree with is unconstitutional.That means that the NEA and it's little empire are about to go on a crash diet,courtesy of the Supremes.If it's anything like what happened in Wisconsin when that state ended agency fees, look for a radical restructuring of the big teachers orgs.


http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/01/us/supreme-court-to-hear-challenge-to-union-fees.html?_r=0


My favorite "citizen journalist",Mike Antonucci, spells out the grim future of the old political influence purchasing model here-


http://educationnext.org/teachers-unions-risk-losing-agency-fees-friedrichs-california/

ljhays
ljhays

So Morgan wants to further screw up the commute by having school traffic clogging the roads at both the beginning AND the end of the day? He needs to spend some time-out on Austell Road during those hours, when school buses and reduced speed signals jam up traffic from the E-W Connector to South Cobb Drive. As other posters have commented, there's more to consider in making longer school days than just dubious learning outcomes.

MD3
MD3

Does Mr. Morgan plan on increasing compensation for his employees to cover the increase in time requirements? If so, how will they be able to pay for that? Tax increase? Or is he just counting on everyone working all this extra time for free? Lots of questions here, but it certainly doesn't seem like he's thought it out very well...

liberal4life
liberal4life

Instead of counting "school days," we should think about the number of instructional periods per school year. If we want students to have, say, 165 periods of mathematics instruction, then schedule a school year in such a way that there will be 165 periods of instruction - excluding whatever the school events and required standardized testings that will interfere with instruction days.  I might even consider including more recesses in elementary school.  If that causes a school year to be 200 days, so be it. Just adding more "zeros" won't increase anything.

Super Elf
Super Elf

Finland is a prime example that we need to follow- they have little to no minorities to screw up their system or demand that things go the way they were in the old country. Finland is an adapt to our system or leave!  Finland does not care who they offend, they just want everyone to tow the line.


Cere
Cere

@Kickass Finland also only has about 5 million people in total. That's about equal to the population of just metro Atlanta.  That said, it seems the metro schools could find out what Finland did exactly to improve education outcomes and then just replicate it instead of randomly dreaming up their own 'solutions'. You know, schools in Finland used to be pretty bad - but they have turned them around in just a few decades. Here's how, according to an article from the National Education Association, a publication school board members should be reading:


http://www.nea.org/home/40991.htm


Here are the bullet points - notice they did not extend the school day. In fact, in many countries, after the school work is done, the afternoons are spent in PE activities, like snow skiing in Norway.


"Leaders in Finland attribute the gains to their intensive investments in teacher education—all teachers receive three years of high-quality graduate level preparation completely at state expense—plus a major overhaul of the curriculum and assessment system designed to ensure access to a “thinking curriculum” for all students. A recent analysis of the Finnish system summarized its core principles as follows:

  • Resources for those who need them most.
  • High standards and supports for special needs.
  • Qualified teachers.
  • Evaluation of education.
  • Balancing decentralization and centralization. (Laukkanen, 2008, p. 319)"

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Cere @Kickass 

Those bullet points are so much easier to achieve when you have a population of 5 million mostly middle-class, Caucasian, mostly Lutheran Finns who all speak Finnish. And you aren't using state resources to house, feed, and care for tens of thousands of suddenly arrived Muslim illiterate migrants, with tens of thousands more behind them. Many families are among them, with children who must be educated.  Those Finnish teachers will have quite an adjustment to make.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Cere @Kickass 

P.S. Adult education in Finland will also have to be extended to make those tens of thousands of migrants employable, unless the state wishes to support them all. How familiar are those well-paid, well-educated Finnish teachers with TFSL (Teaching Finnish as a Second Language)?

Godless
Godless

@Cere @Kickass I have seen many qualified and outstanding teachers leaving the profession all together because they can't keep up anymore with the non-sense bureaucracy, the enormous amount of kids that will not pay attention to class and when they fail, they ask the teacher how come you let the students fail?

southerntchr
southerntchr

If I work 10 hours a day, five days a week as a teacher, when will I plan and prepare for the class?  I am doing that now two to three hours a day after hours.  Yes, that is EXACTLY what we need  - three more hours a day trying to keep them on task and focused!  How does he plan to pay for these extra hours of operation?  SMH 

Kodie56
Kodie56

@southerntchr I agree.  Many teachers already work 10 hour days now helping students after school, preparing lesson plans, grading work, contacting parents, attending team meetings along with a multitude of meetings called by the county or principal.  Does administration plan on having teachers stay until 7 in order to the other work done?  Soon there will not be enough hours in a day for teachers to do everything government wants them to do.  What about teacher's families?  Are they to see them only on the weekends?

chupika130
chupika130

@southerntchr He'll pay for it by getting teachers to give back to the school part of their alary.  You're in it for the love of children, not money and time for your family.

Cere
Cere

Wow. This breaks my heart -- the thought of children sitting at desks every single month of the year. It's torture for many of them - especially boys. It's also torture for their teachers.  Doing more of the same thing won't improve anything.  I have long advocated for free summer camps for all children. County park summer camps - and sleepover summer camp scholarships.  This is one of the biggest differences in children of wealthier more educated people - their children have far more experiences in life. They learn out in the world. They get to run and play out in nature. They swim and hike, make crafts and sing songs and forge new friendships at summer camps.  They grow and flourish and build confidence at camp. They also travel - which is where a lot of life knowledge is learned. Virtual travel does now exist - what if a pilot or flight attendant hosted a weekly slideshow for kids who don't get to travel to at least tell them about the world? Wouldn't teachers rather lead a camp over the summer than stand in the same old classroom? We have public pools, school gyms and ball fields that can be used for this. It just requires vision and cooperation between the school board and the county. [I can dream can't I?] ... Sitting at a desk all summer hunched over the same old books is only going to deplete a child's energy and zeal for learning. Learning is physical - physical activity is what compresses what's been learned into the fiber of the child's body. Ask any occupational therapist. Sending them to summer camp could be the thing that improves their learning for the long term while building character and confidence.

Cere
Cere

ps - when I was in high school, for one week our teachers taught classes on their personal hobbies.  I learned about bird-watching from my English Lit teacher, cooking from my chemistry teacher and how to knit from my PE teacher.  Kittredge used to do this when my son attended. He learned about classic movies from one teacher and how to properly run a 5k from another.  The teachers love it - it humanizes them and connects them with their students. Students learn far more than just the task at hand - they learn about life. It's why people like to home school - to teach children everyday skills and lessons.  Sitting at a desk, learning from books and taking tests is just not a natural way to live every single day.

Marlayna
Marlayna

IRONIC, that the first item read is from a parent that wants a child-care situation. Our educators are professionals and should be treated accordingly. If a longer day/school year is imposed, then LEARNING should take place. Areas with which students have fallen behind should be addressed--not with makeup work or busy work---but true teaching and learning going on daily. We must stop playing with our children's' lives. Science, technology, engineering, coding, math and reading with a critical analysis component is mandatory for our children to elevate their personal standards. I advocate the idea as long as a short and long term comprehensive plan is available for all parents, community and business leaders and students are familiarized with and this must have a buy-in component from parents with high expectations from their children. This is NOT a play time for "extras,"

heyteacher
heyteacher

I do wish schools would offer an extended day for students where they could take advantage of tutoring or extras like dance and music -- I've seen this model in some charter schools and I it is a tremendous help for working parents. We pay out the nose for quality aftercare for our kids -- they get dance and music and help with homework -- but not everyone can afford those options. The reality is most parents are not available to pick up their kids at 2:30 PM, and many students my daughter's age (9) are going home to an empty house. 


More hours of the regular school day, however, are not needed. 

bu2
bu2

@heyteacher

I'm not sure the elementary school kids could handle a longer day.  You'd have more disciplinary problems and little would be accomplished in the late afternoon classes.


It would be interesting to know what KIPP adds in those longer school days.

heyteacher
heyteacher

@bu2 @heyteacher


If you read my post, my point was not to add longer hours onto the regular day, but to consider after care activities for ALL students -- not just those who can afford them. My own kids go to a pricey aftercare -- which we can afford -- but many of my kid's peers go home to an empty house and no one to help them with their homework -- nor are they getting art/music/athletics the way my kids do with their aftercare options. I know many charter schools that offer such activities at a nominal charge -- there are ways to do this w/o extending the regular day. IMHO we don't need more "school" but we do need more care than we did back in 1960 when all the moms stayed home.