Finding Time For Success

Under mounting pressure to raise achievement in public schools, a handful of states and cities and many charter schools are seeking to squeeze more hours, days and even weeks into the academic calendar to ensure students get the reading and math lessons they need without sacrificing music, art or even recess.

The extended-school movement has gained important allies on Capitol Hill and is touted by billionaires Bill Gates and Eli Broad as a step the next president should consider.

The advantages of a longer school day could be seen one Friday at the D.C. Preparatory Academy.

After the final bell at most schools in the city, second-graders in one D.C. Prep classroom started a round of chess. They also read one more book before heading home.

With a school day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., they spend as much time at the Northeast Washington charter school as many adults spend on the job: 40 hours a week. That’s about 7 1/2 hours longer than the weekly schedule for their peers in regular D.C. schools, as well as the schedule in most public schools nationwide.

But some educators and lawmakers have concluded that the old-fashioned school day is simply too short, especially for struggling students, even though it’s unclear whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

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(The Washington Post 02.04.08)

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