When Nancy Mullen took over as principal at Matthew J. Kuss Middle School in Fall River, MA three years ago, she found it a somber place.
Labeled as chronically under-performing under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, all electives had been stripped away to make more time for reading and math drills in an effort to boost state test scores.
Last year, Kuss was selected as one of ten schools in the state to implement a longer school day as part of the Expanded Learning Time Initiative.
Now in its second year in the program, attendance is up, tardiness is down, and students are engaged in electives during the day that include band, chorus, robotics, and martial arts.
While it is too soon to know if test scores have improved, Mullen said she can see a difference in the school’s atmosphere. “If you ask me if it is working in terms of climate, suspensions, and lateness, it’s better than expected,” she said. Schools like Kuss soon could be the norm rather than the exception.
In another decade or so, the six-and-a-half-hour day and the 180-day year could be as absent from schools as quill pens and black slates. Schools across the U.S. — especially those with high-needs, low-income populations — are finding they just don’t have the time in a typical day to do much more than prepare students for high-stakes tests in reading and math.
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(Education World 10.22.07)
Filed under: Uncategorized on October 31st, 2007