Last week, two stories on ELT hit the news wires that caught my eye:

First, in Denver, Education News Colorado highlighted that seven Denver Public Schools, led by TSC Signatory Tom Boasberg, will be adding an hour to the school schedule in the fall. This is great news. The article goes on to point out the challenges that come with planning for a redesign on the school calendar and the importance of involving families and communities to the process. It is no doubt challenging to undertake the challenge of redesigning and expanding the school calendar, but we believe it will pay off in the end. As Robert Beam, the principal of one elementary school adding time says, “Kids in high-risk neighborhoods need more knowledge experiences.”

In Chicago, Chicago Public Schools reported gains in the test scores of the students who participated in the Longer School Day pilot program. As the Chicago Tribune’s Noreen Ahmed-Ullah wrote, “ Overall, schools that instituted a longer day sometime during the school year saw a rise of 2.5 percentage points in students meeting or exceeding state standards. For the schools that started the longer day in September, that gain was 6.6 percentage points.”

Now, certainly standardized test scores are not the only measure by which we can and should measure schools. We must also be careful not to make too much of one year gains – it is important to see gains over time. As a snapshot, however, it is worth noting when a group of schools tried something different – in this case more time – and saw rising achievement. Of course, we will keep watching the Full School Day Initiative in Chicago. Good news for next year seems right around the corner…