Thursday, June 6, 2013
Trends to Reform the American School Calendar
Learning Time in America: Trends to Reform the American School Calendar, from the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) and the Education Commission of the States is an update to a July 2011 report of the same name. It provides a comprehensive overview of legislative and policy developments at the federal, state, and district levels to close achievement gaps and improve public school through expanding learning time over the two years since the release of the first report.
The report also includes results from a national survey, commissioned by NCTL and administered in February by the nonpartisan firm KRC Research, showing broad support for more learning time. Three-quarters of respondents – including 80 percent of parents with children enrolled in public schools – agreed that more time in school will better prepare students for success in college and the workforce.
The report details dozens of policy and legislative developments that have already led to expanded learning time or that pave the way for it in the years to come. These developments include:
- Five states (Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee) in December 2012 announced their participation in the TIME Collaborative, an effort led by NCTL and the Ford Foundation to expand learning time for thousands of students in select schools in those states.
- In New York, in addition to the state’s participation in the TIME Collaborative, the state legislature this year provided $20 million to fund a proposal by Governor Andrew Cuomo to
create a competitive grant program to fund a 25 percent expansion of learning time in schools with redesign plans approved by the state.
- The Florida legislature in 2012 designated a specific funding stream to support the addition of one hour of instruction in literacy for all students in the 100 lowest-performing elementary schools in the state.
- Since 2008, seven states have passed legislation that create “innovation” or “turnaround” districts or schools. Though the specifics vary by state, across all the efforts, the aim is to grant districts or schools autonomies over budgets, staffing, and school schedules.
- Two states – Iowa and North Carolina – formed commissions specifically to study the need to modernize the school calendar.
- School districts have also played a significant role in expanding learning time. For example, Chicago significantly expanded both the school day and the school year for all 340,000 students in its traditional district schools. Elizabeth, New Jersey has created eight-hour days for all 30 of its district schools.