A recap of the week’s expanding learning time (ELT) news:
Some Florida schools have seen a large improvement in reading scores thanks to expanded learning time. Two years ago, Florida pioneered a new policy, requiring its 100 lowest-performing elementary schools to add an extra hour to their school day and to use that time for reading instruction. Early results suggest the new initiative is paying off. After a year with the extra hour, three-quarters of the Florida schools have seen improved reading scores on the state’s standardized test, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or the FCAT. Seventy of the one-hundred schools have earned their way off the lowest-performing list.
In the search for a new Boston school superintendent, it is clear that the new leader must have a solid appreciation for arts education. TSC MA Signatory Laura Perille writes in a letter to the Boston Globe that arts education plays a vital role in the Boston school system. Over the past five years, the Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion Initiative has enabled arts education to reach 14,000 more students annually in city schools. This past year, 86 percent of K-8 students are receiving weekly arts instruction, and 80 additional full-time arts teachers have been hired. Orchard Gardens, a turnaround school that has expanded their school day and year, attributes arts instruction as the cornerstone of its progress.
The Huffington Post Education section featured a series of blogs by Matthew Lynch about the effects of year-round schooling on students, teachers, and the economy. Positive findings include: overall, year-round schooling seems to show a slight advantage academically to students, yet the numbers of students are not high enough to get a full analysis at this point. What does seem clear is, at-risk students do fare better without a long summer break, and other students are not harmed by the year-round schedule. Like the impact on students and teachers, the financial ramifications for year-round schooling do not seem significantly negative but for districts with less money, any upfront costs can likely be a deal-breaker.