Extended School Year in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania 1. Background A longer school year has been suggested time and again and more serious debates on this issue are gaining prominence in educational circles. The amount of time spent in schools by children in the United States in comparison to the time spent by children in other countries has assumed greater interest…
Perhaps the greatest finding of the commission’s report was the fact that students present in other democratic countries (especially industrialized nations) were expected to take up to two times as much instructions in core academic areas during the course of a high school year than students being taught in high schools across the United States. (NECTL, 1994) 2. Relating Time and Learning Investigations into time and learning reveal that the amount of time spent on learning and the total learning acquired are directly related. Learning is affected consistently in a powerful manner based on the time allocated to learning. Moreover it has been found that schools that devote greater student time to learning tend to produce students with greater test scores in comparison to schools where student’s time is used up in other activities. (Walberg, Extended Learning Time, 1991) (Walberg, 1988) On the other hand there is no clear relationship between the amount of time allocated for instructing students in a school and the amount of time that students are engaged in various kinds of learning activities. Research carried out on the issue of time spent by students in school reveals that time is just one constituent that is required to ensure learning for students. This also indicates that merely increasing the time spent in schools is unlikely to produce any major changes in the amount of learning of students. The relationship between the amount of time spent and achievement does not present a strong case. Hence it is apparent that by only increasing the amount of time spent in schools will not produce large gains in learning by students. Therefore policy makers cannot expect to increase the amount of time spent in instructing students either in school days or school years in order to justify tremendous increases in learning. Another aspect often brought to light by most researchers is that the utilization of time is far more important than simple increases in the time spent in school by students. As mentioned before mere mechanical increases in time are not likely to produce any major changes in the amount of learning or in academic achievement. However even then certain states are adding more and more time to their class times with some states adopting the school day approach while others adopt the school year approach. Based on these arguments it is pertinent to realize that time spent in the classroom should be optimized further in order to maximize learning in the classroom. This in turn leads to the question: How do aspects of learning and academic achievement get affected as time in the classroom is increased due to extended school year periods? Moreover should such a system be enforced in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania? 3. Findings 3.1. Academic Achievement The effects of prescribing an extended day or year program for classrooms was only the subject of a very few studies that were reviewed. However the few pertinent studies reviewed indicated that some issues were worth noting. A study conducted on 181 kindergarten students was structured that one half received conventional schooling while the other half received extended year programs at school. The study examined the effect of additional school days on the children’ ...
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