"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, January 02, 2012

Is overtime schooling worth it?

Sent to the Baltimore Sun, Jan 1, 2012

Three schools in Baltimore are lengthening the school day based on the “success” of an expanded instruction program in New York (“Three city schools to extend day by three hours, Jan 1).

What success? According to the Sun, New York’s overtime students gained 2.2 percentage points in English Language Arts in three years, more than the city average of 1.5 points.

Please do the math. That’s a .7 difference over three years, about one quarter of a percentage each year.

We can get much bigger gains with a lot less work, with an approach that children will like a lot better than staying in school longer: Invest in libraries and librarians. Studies show that children who do not do well on reading tests often have little access to books, and studies also show that increasing access to books through libraries increases reading as well as reading achievement.

Just reading one extra book for pleasure each year will produce a larger gain in Language Arts than overtime schooling.

Stephen Krashen

Access to books, libraries, reading achievement: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading.
One extra book: Kim, J. 2004. Summer Reading and the Ethnic Achievement Gap. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 9(2):169-188. Kim concluded that reading five books over the summer results in a gain of about three percentiles on standardized reading tests, about 2/3 of a percentile per book.

Original article:

1 comment:

  1. Problem is, while I agree with you, the only standard "reformers" consider valid is test scores. And they've yet to acknowledge ebb and flow, like a student who receives 96 one day can receive 92 the next and still be just as competent. Their narrow and ignorant view allows them to trumpet meaningless stats like the ones you cite and say what a great job they're doing, or reverse them and close a school or fire a teacher as a direct result. The idiocy and ignorance are kind of overwhelming.