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Arne Duncan pushes for longer school years in 5-state pilot program

education050911_optBY GINA G. SCALA
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Endless summer days could become a thing of the past under a pilot program aimed at improving student achievement and making U.S. schools more viable globally.

The three-year pilot program, funded through a mix of federal, state and district monies, is expected to be implemented in five states, beginning in 2013. It requires an additional 300 hours of school learning. Participating districts will work with school leaders, teachers and parents to determine whether the school day should be made longer or if the school year should be longer or a combination of the two, according to the Associated Press.

Mandated under federal regulations, public education in the United States is categorized under a six-hour school day for a 180-day school year. This program, also funded in part by the Ford Foundation and the National Center for Time and Learning, seeks to increase school hours in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee next year.

“Whether educators have more time to enrich instruction or students have more time to learn how to play an instrument and write computer code, adding meaningful in-school hours is a critical investment that better prepares children to be successful in the 21st century," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement.

Duncan has been advocating for more classroom time since the start of his tenure and warned a congressional committee that American students were less competitive than their peers in India and China, according to the Associated Press.

But a report from the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education, released in 2011, suggests shorter class time is not to blame. In fact, students in Finland, Japan and South Korea spend less time in school than most students in the United States, the Associated Press reported.

 

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