Will students learn more if they spend more time in school? Massachusetts is giving schools an extra $1,300 per student to add 25 to 30 percent more time on instruction in core subjects, enrichment classes and teacher training.

Salemwood Elementary has added two hours to the school day. Some students like the change, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

. . . Yaritza Cajiao, says she likes having extra time for gym, computer class, and homework help. “My grades are getting way better … and my mom’s really proud of me because I pay attention in class more,” she says. “I used to ask her for a lot of help, but with the longer day I can ask my teachers.”

Students now have 90 minutes of math every day (two extra hours a week compared with last year), and 120 minutes of English Language Arts (one extra hour a week).

Teachers, who get paid more for teaching a longer day, like it. Parents do too: In a survey at three of the pilot schools, 77 percent of parents said their child was doing better in school. Of course, the longer day also is a convenience for working parents.

I find it interesting that the article doesn’t

come right out and tell us how long the new day

will be. There is a comment by a related individual

suggesting that the current school days are 6 1/2

hours long now.

I think that an 8 1/2 hour school day is just *TOO LONG*.

I don’t want my 1st grade child in school for as long as

I’m at work (more or less). I don’t have any data, but

darn it! 6 1/2 hours per day (plus some homework!) *should*

be enough.

Any idea how any after school activities (if there are any)

fit in? Music, scouts, little league, kumon? My own 6 year

old would be totally burned out at the end of an 8 1/2 hour

school day…

-Mark Roulo

What about some sort of afterschool program where only certain subjects are expanded upon … for students who help the most?

I agree with Hube. Here in NJ, the highest-performing high schools have a longer instructional day than average ones. So a longer day is potentially beneficial. But many students have important after-school activities from which they benefit at least as much as they would from an extra 45 minutes of math. Students who need additional time (e.g. to “close the gap”) or students who want additional time (for an extra foreign language elective, for example) should be given that opportunity. Let’s not spoil it by also packing into the extra class times students who are staring out the window wishing they were elsewhere.

Perhaps the answer lies in exactly the opposite. If teachers only taught a subject for 15 minutes each day, wouldn’t they then really have to think about the most important things the students needed to learn and the most effective way to learn it? Sometimes I don’t think adults have very good memories. Would you have been jumping up and down about the exciting possibility of staying at school for an additional 2 hours? Have you found yourself contemplating recently that you could have been much more successful if you had only spent more time in Algebra II or third grade English?

Perhaps the answer lies in exactly the opposite. If teachers only taught a subject for 15 minutes each day…Interestingly, the Jesuit run highschool/prep-school that I attended did something like that. Our school year was shorter than the public schools (I think …), but we made up for it by having shorter school days, which meant that each class met only 4 times per week. It worked out fine …

-Mark Roulo

If teachers only taught a subject for 15 minutes each dayâ€¦It would certainly have worked better for me. I usually “got it” in five minutes – but the teacher would have to drone on and on, and still the idjits in the back row never understood.

As for an 8-1/2 hour school day: I wouldn’t have been dreaming about destroying the school, I’d have been finding ways to do it.