Stretching the Clock

By Michael Regnier

The tentative moves toward longer school schedules in Houston, and less-short schedules in Chicago, suggest that charter schools’ habit of getting disadvantaged learners more hours in the classroom may be spreading. (Or not, time will tell.)

Much of the media coverage has mentioned the mixed research on the results of extended time, which makes sense; like any other resource, time can be used effectively or not.

I’ve seen less mention of two other key angles. First, more time for professional collaboration can also make a difference. Here in New York City, charter school teachers typically come back to work a week or two before the students, while district teachers only have a day or two together to get ready.

Also, a longer day eases the scheduling tradeoffs among subject areas. As many charter schools show, it is possible to spend more time on math and reading without squeezing out art, science, and social studies—but you literally need more hours in the day.

Last spring we asked a couple of charter school teachers about the kind of school-wide dedication that a longer schedule requires. Check out the video.

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