Center for Digital Education & Converge: research in education technology for K-12 and higher education

Extended Time Does Not = Higher Test Scores

on October 19, 2009

President Barack Obama has been known for proposing many controversial solutions to issues including health care, the economy and Guantanamo Bay prison. Now the president is focusing on school schedules and trying to convert all schools to year-round schedules. In addition to pushing a year-round schedule, he also plans to lengthen school days and increase the number of school days. Although many people do not want these changes, the plan to lengthen all aspects of school does not go without reason or good intentions.

Compared to other countries, the United States has been falling behind in test scores for years. While other nations have been improving over the years, the states have remained static. The government has tried in various ways to raise the country’s test scores, and while some work, they just do not work enough. Even the use of laptops at Empire High School was an experimental way to raise scores.

Looking at the way other schools are structured, President Obama decided to change the schedules of our schools. Since other countries, particularly those that are doing well, have their students in classes longer, the administration said it could be the answer to why they are doing better. When students do not have a huge summer, and school is more spread out, some might say that it will prevent “summer burnout,” where students forget what they learned the previous year. Other speculations are that with a year-round schedule, the four breaks throughout the year will cause even more burnouts.

Opinions of students, and even teachers, are very negative when told the news of President Obama’s plan. Nearly everyone knows how much students dread the idea of school expanding beyond its current borders. When the hours students are in school increase, they will dislike it even more, seeing how even the idea of it can make them a tad bit angry. In addition to students, teachers usually stay after school hours to organize or wait 'till traffic thins out, and if school hours increased, how much time would teachers, and staff, have to themselves?

Regardless of what students and staff think about how the schedule will affect their day, the expense of keeping a school running that long will require an increase in the school budget. That increase will not put materials into schools and will displace money from areas that could use it better. Also, with students in school more, there will be less time for vacation. Popular getaway spots and tourist towns will lose customers and profit. This could have a drastic effect on economies. Coming out of a recession or not, this would be a bad move.

Although President Obama does have the right mindset, his plan for a lengthened year-round school is just not the right way to go about raising the nation’s test scores. The United States needs to look for better ways to engage their students and make them see the importance in raising their scores. Even though extending the school year is unrealistic, extending students’ capabilities is still possible.

Spencer Taylor

Empire High School




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on Oct 19, 2009
First, this is well-written. "Although President Obama does have the right mindset" Obama has 100% the wrong mindset when it comes to education. He (with Democrats in Congress) eliminated the DC school choice program, a program which helps hundreds of schoolchildren in DC escape from bad schools and enroll in superior schools of their choice. With that decision, he put the unions first and the children last. There is much irony in this, since even though he condemns many DC students to return to public schools in DC, he doesnt send his own children there, but enrolled them in an exclusive private school. Lengthening school hours is another failed "input-based" approach. Just as raising teachers salaries or smaller class size, or any of the other 'input-based' 'solutions'. The issue is not the input, but the OUTPUT: How to make learning happen. Homeschoolers spend less time in schools than those in Govt-run schools, yet outperform on average. Hmmm. Schools dont perform because they are not focussed on excellence and student learning 100%, they are focussed on their own needs. We need school choice so students and parents can find the school environments that work for them. Only then can we get the output we want - real learning - from the inputs of time, teaching, money and participation.
on Mar 8, 2010
I'm doing a report for this and although it says that money will get cut from supplies, who knows how much?

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