Bringing you the week’s expanding learning time news:

VIDEO: Longer School Days: Do They Improve Student Performance?
On Monday, expanding learning time was in the spotlight on HuffPost Live. Eric Schwarz, co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools and TSC signatory, shared how Citizen Schools works with schools around the country to provide greater opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning in the longer school day.

Arts Education to get More Emphasis Under Emanuel School Plan
For the first time, under a plan by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a TSC Signatory, unveiled Monday, the number of art forms offered by Chicago Public Schools would be expanded to include visual art, music, dance and drama at all grade levels. Also in the plan –Chicago Public Schools would elevate the arts to the level of a “core subject” — with 120 minutes of dedicated weekly instruction for elementary students and “at least one certified, full-time employee” at every school.

Iowa Education Task Force Pushes for Calendar Innovation
The 19-member group, formed to study and devise recommendations on a uniform school year start date for state districts, the length of the instructional day and year and whether class time should be measured in days or hours, revealed their formal recommendations and pilot proposal to the state Board of Education, Gov. Terry Branstad and the state legislature. A draft, the template for the final document, includes a recommendation that instructional time be shifted from the required 180 days to a minimum of 1,080 hours, the equivalent of 180 six-hour school days. The document says that counting hours instead of days will “allow for more effective use of instructional time.”

The document also includes ideas about staggered schedules, such as 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for longer instructional days. The text directs districts to review best practices and look at other states for cues on how to truly innovate when it comes to redesigning a school year.

Extend School Day in Rochester City Classrooms
Currently the regular school year in Rochester city schools is limited to 180 days, compared to 195 days at charters such as Rochester Prep. Rochester schools chief Bolgen Vargas believes an extra two and one-half hours in class each school day can help vastly improve student performance. So far, the school day has been extended for about 2,000 of the district’s 30,000-plus students. Vargas hopes to continue implementing extended days at other schools through contract negotiations with the teachers union.

Erosion of Reading Scores has TPS Mulling Calendar Changes
Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard, a TSC Signatory, recently told his school board that he wants to look at the district’s Continuous Learning Calendar to see what opportunities there may be to for additional learning time for students both in the classroom and through technology. This conversation will not be held in isolation, however. Superintendent Ballard plans to engage with teachers, parents, and community members to get their input on any proposed changes.