Why Are Longer School Days Vital?

12/02/2011 04:33 pm ET | Updated Feb 01, 2012
  • Lucy Friedman Founding president, The After-School Corporation (TASC)

This week, a Twitter friend asked TASC to explain "why longer school days are vital." We couldn't come up with one140-character answer that encompassed all the reasons, but it took no time to come up with 15 answers (in 140 characters or less).

That's how a Twitter campaign was born. If you believe that to close the achievement gap in this country we've got to close the opportunity gap, I invite you to tweet why you believe our nation should #expandEDin2012. How should we expand education in places that are struggling to deliver on the promise of public schools -- and why? I hope the list below gets you started.

• All kids need a deeper, more individualized, more balanced, hands-on education and a fighting chance to succeed no matter where they begin.

• Too many schools lack the time for arts, recess or inquiry-driven projects that teach collaboration, problem-solving + love of learning.

• The current school day was designed for an age of factories and farms when people could live a good life without even a high school degree.

• But we live in a knowledge economy, where demands on teachers and students keep growing while the school day stays the same.

• More than 1/3 of students in urban schools fail to graduate on time, putting them on track to a lifetime of low-wage, unstable jobs.

• We have the world's best higher education system but many students can't do college work.

• Three of every four students who go from New York City public schools to community colleges need remediation.

• The U.S. has dropped from 1st to 16th in the world in college completion.

• Obesity and diabetes rates are skyrocketing, at the same time that phys ed, recess and sports are being cut from schools.

• Research shows that more learning time leads to higher achievement, better school attendance, more enthusiastic learners. [Start with this PDF, a review of after-school research by Robert Granger.]

• For example, ExpandED Schools students out-performed their city and state peers in improving their math and English proficiency.

• Students in ExpandED Schools attend school, on average, seven more days a year than students in matched schools.

• Teachers give ExpandED Schools high ratings, with 85% finding their students' learning improved.

• New research on the highest-performing charter schools finds additional learning time to be a critical element of their success.

• Expanding the day doesn't have to break the bank. ExpandED Schools achieve 35% more learning time at less than 10% additional cost.