Students in five states will soon be spending more hours in
school in an effort that officials hope will boost academic
achievement. But one conservative analyst says longer hours alone
won't likely do much.
Schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and
Tennessee are adding about 300 hours annually in hopes of seeing
improvements, especially among students from low-income families.
But as Ben DeGrow of the Independence Institute points out, there is
more to it than just keeping kids in classrooms.
"Just having kids spend more time in school is not necessarily
the answer. If they're going to spend more time focused and on task
and working in a program and on material that would be beneficial,
then yes -- more time is helpful," he poses. "But just simply
making sure students spend more time in a building or in an
ineffective program is not going to make any difference."
But DeGrow does see how aiming this three-year pilot program at
low-income students could prove beneficial.
"Students who start off with those obstacles of poverty and less
parental involvement in their lives -- more time in school
certainly could help them overcome that deficit, if they're in the
classroom with a great teacher and in a school with a good culture
and high expectations," the policy analyst submits.
The program will affect up to 20,000 students in 40 schools, and
it will be expanded if it is successful.
Analysts say better retention policies are needed to stop the
trend that's kicking nearly 50 percent of educators who begin
teaching careers out of the profession within five years.