Select public schools in five states, including Massachusetts, will add 300 hours to their school year next fall. Federal, state and private funding will cover the cost of giving extra learning time to more than 5,000 students in the Commonwealth.
“It’s a strategy that we have tried to emphasize, particularly in gateway cities where despite the extraordinary progress that we’ve been making across the state, there are still achievement gaps,” said Gov. Deval Patrick.
Lawmakers say more classroom hours could help students from low-income and minority backgrounds compete with more affluent students who can afford extra-tutoring and extra-curricular activities.
“Families that are able to afford extended learning time in the form of, you know, piano lessons, or extra tutoring help …are absolutely making those investments for their children,” said Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), who chairs the Legislature’s education committee. “Just on a very practical level, having more time in learning is really important for delivering the kind of quality that we ask of schools.”
The school districts of Fall River and Lawrence will participate in the extended learning. If the pilot program is successful, it could extend to more schools. But not all students are looking forward to it.
“We just want to get out of school and have a little break from all of that intense, you know, learning,” said 14-year-old Hannah Kirstel of Parker Middle School in Chelmsford. “No, I wouldn’t be very enthusiastic about that, no.”
Altogether, nearly 20,000 students nationwide will receive extended school hours next September. The extra learning time will provide special help for struggling students and devote time to arts and music.
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