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Schools in 5 states will take part in pilot that extends school calendar

About 19,500 students attending public schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee will experience longer school days in 2013 as part of a three-year pilot program to expand school calendars and improve learning.

The TIME (Time for Innovation Matters in Education) Collaborative is an effort by the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) to develop high-quality and sustainable expanded-time schools. Federal and state funding will cover the cost of adding 300 hours of instruction and enrichment to the school year. They will receive technical assistance from NCTL and capacity building grants from the Ford Foundation, which has committed $3 million a year over the next three years.

“The additional funding we’re announcing today will allow for the intensive turnaround models that will help us close the nation’s largest achievement gap,” Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy says in a news release.

The districts with schools that plan to expand their day or year as part of the pilot:

  • Colorado: Denver, Boulder Valley, Jefferson County, Adams 50
  • Connecticut: East Hartford, Meriden, New London
  • Massachusetts: Fall River, Lawrence
  • New York: Rochester
  • Tennessee: Achievement School District (Memphis) and Metro Nashville.

In addition to simply expanding the learning day or year, schools taking part in the initiative will have the opportunity to re-imagine how students and teachers use their time. School planning teams will be encouraged to develop an expanded-time schedule that provides a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum; offers individualized help for struggling students; uses data and technology to enhance instruction; improves collaboration among teachers; provides enrichment opportunities in the arts, music and other areas; and promotes a culture of high achievement.

The NCTL says that more than 1,000 schools in the United States already have adopted a redesigned school day built around longer days and years. Increased learning time has been a key educational priority of the Obama administration.

“Adding meaningful in-school hours is a critical investment that better prepares children to be successful in the 21st century," says U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

An NCTL study shows a significant increase over the last three years in the number of public schools that have expanded learning time. The report, Mapping the Field, identifies 1,002 expanded-time schools, up from 655 schools identified in 2009. The number of students being served has increased to 520,000 students, up from 300,000 in 2009.

Many of the expanded-time schools are charters, but the most rapid growth since 2009 has occurred among traditional district schools. As a result, district schools now account for 40 percent of all expanded-time schools, compared with 20 percent of the total in 2009.

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