Longer school days in future for some Metro schools - WSMV Channel 4

Longer school days in future for some Metro schools

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At least four Metro schools will participate in a pilot program to add at least 300 hours of learning time to the class calendar starting in 2013.

The schools, which have not been identified, will be chosen from Metro's 10 Innovation Zone schools. Five other schools from the state's Achievement School District, which runs low-performing schools, will also participate in the three-year pilot program. Officials said the five additional schools would most likely be chosen from the Memphis School District.

The program, called Time Collaborative, is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level. School districts in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York announced Monday they would participate in addition to Tennessee.

Some experts believe kids need to spend more time in the classroom, especially in low-income neighborhoods.

The plan will keep students in the classroom longer each day and add extra days to the school calendar.

"That's another hour and 40 minutes per day, unless you add more days. It's about 28 percent of the current school day time," said Gera Summerford, president of the Tennessee Education Association.

The changes are part of a pilot program organized by the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time and Learning.

The goal is to help students in struggling schools catch up to their peers.

Parent Star'kesha Malone has a student at Buena Vista Elementary School, one of the Metro schools being considered to test the pilot program. Like others, she's worried the 300 additional hours will be too much for her second-grader.

"It doesn't give them time to rest their minds and just be kids," said Malone.

Buena Vista parent Kiarra Smith thinks the program would benefit working parents and kids who'd otherwise be in daycare.

"The longer they stay home during the summer, the worse it is," said Smith.

Participating school districts will pay for the additional hours with state and federal funds.

The changes are to take effect next fall.

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