Education Week - July 8, 2015 - (Page 22)

COMMENTARY What We've Learned From a Longer School Day and Year W iStockphoto By Bolgen Vargas & Sandra A. Parker I hen it comes to economic decline, Rochester, N.Y., tells a story that should be familiar to many urban educators. Three decades ago, our city was a manufacturing boomtown anchored by such companies as Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, and Kodak, which collectively employed more than 100,000 workers. Today, most of our assembly lines are gone, replaced by a knowledge economy that demands workers with postsecondary education. Unfortunately, like many urban districts, we have had to work extra hard to empower a generation of students to be truly prepared for these jobs, as well as for active and productive citizenship. Our solution: Provide more and better learning time to support our students, our teachers, and our families. You might be tempted to stop reading now if you're an educator who's already stretched to the limit. But if you keep reading, you might be surprised by the steps we've taken, and by the opportunities we've had to build on what we've learned. This past December, the Washington-based nonprofit group ReadyNation issued a report spotlighting the many reasons why six-hour school days and nine-month school years were better suited to the nation's agrarian past than to the 21st century's demands and opportunities. That report, "Not Getting Our Money's Worth," also showed that the nation's schools were losing an estimated $21 billion each year because of summer learning loss among children from lower-income families. Our efforts, undertaken several years before the re- port's release, were motivated less by these substantial money considerations and more by the fact that our students were receiving less instructional time than any others in the upstate New York region. Like children in many high-poverty districts, our students also need more time for art, music, and athletics at school than those in wealthier districts, where families are more likely to provide enriching learning activities in the home. These are the key reasons we have added 300 hours to the schedules of 10 district schools during the past two years. We were guided by the National Center on Time and Learning, or nctl, and the Ford Foundation, through an initiative that supports extended school days and years in five states, through a mix of private, federal, and state and local funding. We've also been motivated by a recent rand Corp. study that was conducted with support from the Wallace Foundation, which showed that Rochester 4th graders who participated in summer learning made impressive mathematics gains. (Ford and Wallace also help support Education Week's news coverage of learning time and extended learning.) Although virtually every day is a learning experience for those of us who are driving this effort, three key strategies have been instrumental to our success. Other districts interested in extending school days and years may want to consider following these strategies: * Take time to get allies on board. Changing the way we've run schools for more than a century doesn't happen overnight. Our effort is ongoing, and succeeds only with the support of unions and parents. Once the union leadership agreed to consider a way forward, we involved union representatives in districtwide decisionmaking, and as members of the school-based teams at each participating site. Each of the schools taking part in the initiative had the autonomy and flexibility to make The Illusion of Closing the Achievement Gap By Paul Reville t's a typical night: My wife gets off the phone, having just talked with a neighbor about helping her son find a summer job in the major medical center where she works. I'm on my computer writing a college-recommendation letter for the daughter of some other friends. I interrupt to ask my wife to call a doctor acquaintance to get some advice for my daughter, who's suffering from a relatively minor medical problem. After that, we have dinner, during which we discuss how to help another young friend, a recent college graduate, either find a job or gain admission to a local graduate school program. Before we go to bed, we go online to order some accessories for my daughter's horseback-riding program. We review her summer-camp schedule to make sure all her open weeks are filled with camp, vacation, or horseback riding. This is social capital at work, and in the cases described above, the benefits of this working capital are typically and regularly accruing to other advantaged youngsters who, like my daughter, profit not only from the assets of affluence (camp, lessons, summer travel, and so forth), but from the contacts and influence of their parents and their parents' friends. As is the case with financial capital, the rich get richer. If we were providing such services to disadvantaged youngsters, we would dub this activity "wraparound services." It would be thought of as "an extra," not an essen- " With poor kids, we apparently figure we can save a lot of money by taking shortcuts, poverty bypasses to success. Who are we kidding?" tial part of a child's education or development. However, this kind of constant attention and support for children is what enables the upper classes to consistently advantage their children in the competition for school and college success, good jobs, and wealth. We know how to get kids college- and career-ready. The upper classes have long known how to replicate success and thereby reinforce the existing social order. We provide our children with wraparound services and support from the prenatal period often until they are well into their 30s. And for the most part, this works. They become successful. With poor kids, we apparently figure we can save a lot of money by taking shortcuts, poverty bypasses to success. Who are we kidding? Give them two years of Head Start, and hope the effect persists for a lifetime. Find them a top-performing charter school, send them there for four years, hoping that this intervention is enough to prepare them for success in all the subsequent years of their education. In their seven years of elementary school, give them a scholarship to summer camp for just one summer. Not surprisingly, this "inoculation theory" of child rearing isn't that successful, even though there are always a few individuals who defy the odds. The effects of caring attention, enrichment, health and mental-health care, and informed guidance will persist if this care and support are maintained. But if not, the positive effects diminish. iS t o 22 | EDUCATION WEEK | July 8, 2015 | ckp h o to

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - July 8, 2015

Education Week - July 8, 2015
Nev. Moves to Split Clark Co. District
Crazy Quilt of State Responses To Cries of Overtesting
Common Core Trickles Into All States
Advocates Scrutinize Head Start Proposals
Supreme Court To Decide Case On Union Fees
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Ed. School Critic Levine, MIT Partner to Launch Teacher-Prep ‘Lab’
Ariz.’s 20-Year-Old ELL Case May End, But Debate Rages On
Spelling—en Español—Catches On, With Bees in Multiple States
Blogs of the Week
ISTE Conference Examines How Tech Is Reshaping Education
Budgets, Testing Issues Took Legislative Stage
States Struggle With How to Ensure Good Teachers in All Schools
K-12 Issues Fall Within Suite of Recent High Court Rulings
In States, Plenty of Talk But Incremental Action on Early Ed.
Lengthy Floor Debate Looms for U.S. Senate Over ESEA Rewrite
Fresh Entrants in GOP’s Quest For White House
House, Senate Appropriations Bills Would Cut Back Ed. Dept. Funding
What We’ve Learned From a Longer School Day and Year
The Illusion of Closing The Achievement Gap
The ‘Power’ of Adversity
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Scholars: Challenging Racial Injustice Begins With Us

Education Week - July 8, 2015