This morning I came across a discussion on summer learning loss on the National Journals Education Experts blog. Fawn Johnson, who is sparking this discussion, ends the post with some important questions: “How serious is learning stagnation during the summer months? Are there good reasons for sticking with the current school 180-day year?”
It was great to see a response from Vice President for Education Policy for the Center for American Progress and TSC Signatory, Cindy Brown. She elegantly laid out a strong argument for expanding learning time for our most at-risk students, referencing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s support for more time in school and his remarks at the release of the National Center on Time & Learning’s Time Well Spent report (held at CAP). Like Brown, we here at TSC are concerned about the states and districts that are shortening an already outdated school calendar. For high-poverty students, the summer often means more hours, days, and weeks of unstructured time, while their peers in wealthier neigborhoods head to summer camps and other enriching activities.
In her response, she references one of my favorite expanding learning time success stories, Balz Elementary School District #31 in Arizona, where superintendent (and TSC Signatory!) Jeff Smith transformed the district by adding 20 additional school days, leading to impressive student achievement increases. You can learn more about the district in our Success Story section.