Education News

Does More Time In Class Equal More Learning?

Some charter school networks here in Houston, such as KIPP and YES Prep, have extended class time in their academic models.

Texas schools are supposed to provide at least 180 days of instruction. Or technically, 75,600 minutes, according to a new state law.

But what if that instruction time was even longer? Some experts believe that will translate into better academic results.

“When we see kids growing up in poverty who are successful academically, it’s because they’ve spent more academic time on task,” said Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk, which recently held a forum on the topic.

“Their school has figured out a way, their parents have figured out a way, they’re in high quality after-school.”

In fact, extended learning time can take various forms:

  • A longer school day that matches the parent’s work day.
  • A longer school year, such as Saturday school or a shorter summer vacation.
  • Quality after-school time, provided by outside agencies.

Some charter school networks here in Houston, such as KIPP and YES Prep, have extended class time in their academic models.

However, the reform strategy has shown mixed results in other places like Boston. There a longer day failed to dramatically boost academic achievement or did so only temporarily.

Still advocates, like Sanborn, say certain students need extra time to catch up.

“Children growing up in low-income households, which represent 60 percent of Texas families, when we look at those kids, they need more time on task,” Sanborn said.

It’s something that Texas lawmakers have contemplated. Two years ago, they created a council to study the issue.

It recommended funding new grants to expand learning time in 2016-17 and also more resources and training.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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