Increased class time could work if …

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Bob Kellogg (

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.

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