Is longer better? The Washington Post looks at Washington Jesuit Academy in Northeast Washington, where students — most come from low-income black families — attend for close to 12 hours a day.
“I am going to go to a good high school and a good college and make a good living,” (middle schooler Troy Presbury) said, “and I think it is worth it.”
Fewer than half of entering sixth graders were reading at grade level; 90 percent of students are at grade level by eighth grade.
D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who wants control of the city’s schools, admires the KIPP schools’ nine-hour school days, Saturday classes and mandatory three-week summer school, the Post notes. KIPP’s KEY Academy has the highest test scores of any middle school in D.C.
Much of the school day, however, is filled with announcements, recess and other activities that do not help achievement, studies show. More academic time in which students are engaged correlates with higher achievement, Silva said, but longer school days do not. One Chicago study showed that schools delivered less than 240 minutes of instruction each day, despite a state mandate of 300 minutes.
Lengthening the school day and year is becoming popular, despite the high cost. Massachusetts is experimenting with an eight-hour school day in 10 low-performing schools. Some Washington schools are trimming the long summer vacation; low-income students, who rarely spend their summers in enriching activities, lose academic skills over the summer.
No public school works students as hard as Washington Jesuit Academy, which starts classes at 8:10 am, breaks for sports and activities at 3:20 p.m., feeds students a half-hour dinner at 5 p.m. and then schedules a 110-minute supervised study hall. Students may arrive at 7:30 am for breakfast and leave after study hall at 7:15 pm. Students also must attend summer school.