The mixed gift of time

Gift of TimeThat Colorado was one of several states that will increase the time students spend in school was considered big enough news to make the front page of the Denver Post; luckily a more reasoned look detailed that this program includes just nine schools: four in Boulder, two in both Denver and JeffCo, and one in Westminster. Not exactly front-page stuff.

I’ve written previously on the disadvantages from short school calendars both in the United States generally, and in Colorado.  But there is also a considerable error in many programs that look to increase the amount of time students spend in school.  For if time changes, and not much else does, the programs can be wasted.  Time just compounds the practice — if additional time is well spent, this can be well worth the costs. However if a school is doing poorly, that usually means that the current time is used badly and additional time just adds more waste.

This is hardly a subtle point, and some variation of it accompanied the announcements.  But that does not lessen the concern, for neither any of the media surrounding the announcement, nor the DPS site specify changes in programming at the trial schools.

And the changes in how the time is used are more critical than the extra time itself.  Of the two schools slated for more time in Denver, one is a middle school currently ranked in the worst performance category on the SPF with just 28% of possible points. For this school, extra time is a prime opportunity to try something different; and one hopes that the desire for change is what lead to their selection.  However this would go against type —  education is rife with well-funded and intentioned programs that failed for lack of thoughtfulness.  Lets hope this time is different.

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