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Local schools don't expect longer days

Tennessee is among five states that plan to add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting next year.
But Warren County students shouldn’t be concerned, according to Director of Schools Bobby Cox. He doesn’t believe any local schools will be impacted by longer hours.
“From what I have been told, they are going to pick schools with the most needs in the state,” said Cox. “These are schools that have been targeted as the worst performing schools under the school improvement plan and we don’t have any of those schools so this wouldn’t affect us at all.”
Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York are the other states which announced Monday they will take part in the three-year pilot program, which is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level.
The three-year program will affect almost 20,000 students in 40 schools, with long-term hopes of expanding the program to include additional schools — especially those that serve low-income communities. Schools will decide whether to make the school day longer, add more days to the school year, or both.
“I know our teachers are working their fingers to the bone right now,” said Cox. “They would have to come up with a pretty good compensation package for teachers to make this work.”
All told, education officials expect to provide nearly 6 million more student learning hours next year.
“I’m convinced the kind of results we’ll see over the next couple of years I think will compel the country to act in a very different way,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
A mix of federal, state and district funds will cover the costs of expanded learning time, with the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning also chipping in resources. In Massachusetts, the program builds on the state’s existing expanded-learning program. In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy is hailing it as a natural outgrowth of an education reform law the state passed in May that included about $100 million in new funding, much of it to help the neediest schools.
Spending more time in the classroom, officials said, will give students access to a more well-rounded curriculum that includes arts and music, individualized help for students who fall behind and opportunities to reinforce critical math and science skills.
“That extra time with their teachers or within a structured setting means all the world,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. “It means it allows them to continue the momentum they had the day before. It means they don’t slip back over the summer. It allows them to really deliver.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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