Last week, Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced that 40 more New York City middle schools will be part of the Middle School Quality Initiative. Of those 40 schools, 20 will participate in an extended day program, each adding on two and a half more hours per day for 2,000 sixth-graders.
Launched in 2011, the department of education’s Middle School Quality Initiative will now be in 89 NYC schools this fall, focusing on at-risk middle school students and literacy instruction for the new Common Core standards.
In addition to New York City, students in Rochester will also have access to expanded learning time next school year as part of the Time for Innovation Matters in Education Collaborative and the Race to the Top School Innovation Fund.
But extended day programs are not a new idea. They were one of the five recommendations of the 1983 Reagan administration report, “A Nation at Risk,” and have been used in a number of schools across the state. Expanded learning time is also a hallmark of successful public charter schools.
Extending the school day is only beneficial, however, if the extra time is used efficiently. A 2005 research report from the nonprofit Massachusetts 2020 profiled six schools in Massachusetts and one in New York that had extended day programs. The study found that these schools used their extra time for increased time in math and/or English, additional enrichment activities such as art and physical education, and time for professional development. This study found that extended time in school led to more time on task, deeper coverage of curriculum, more opportunities for enrichment programs and deepened adult-child relationships.
I’m looking forward to supporting the efforts of schools like these that are exploring ways to extend their day, year and reach to give all students their best chance for a great education.