Get ready, New London students: you'll be in class for more of the day starting next year.
The New London Public Schools are one of 11 school districts in five states taking part in a pilot program to add 300 hours of learning time to the school calendar in an effort to increase instructional time and improve student achievement, according to the Associated Press. The change will go into effect for the 2013-2014 school year.
The three-year effort will be financed by federal, local, and state funds as well as the Ford Foundation and National Center on Time and Learning. The latter two organizations oversee the TIME (Time for Innovative Matters in Education) Collaborative, which supports the additional learning time initiative as a way of closing achievement gaps and making the best use of flexible federal funds available under No Child Left Behind waivers.
The selected schools in New London include Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School, Jennings School, Nathan Hale School, and Winthrop School. A press release from the district says the intent of the extended hours will be to have more time to assist struggling students, provide enrichment activities, and allow teachers to collaborate.
"To date, our four schools have teams working with the National Center for Time and Learning to design each schools' program," the statement says. "The process began with a school-wide examination of student achievement data. Based the staff's findings, schools are composing a school-wide instructional focus that will be implemented in all academic areas. Having a clear instructional focus will help build clarity around expectations and teacher development."
The extension of time will run in tandem with an effort to improve efficiency and use of time in the schools. Gov. Dannel Malloy and Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor will meet with Superintendent Nicholas Fischer, teacher, and other local education officials at Winthrop School on Tuesday. A forum on Jan. 7 will include discussion of the pilot program and solicit discussion from the public.
The school districts in Meriden and East Hartford will also take part in the effort. Four districts in Colorado, two each in Massachusetts and Tennessee, and one in New York round out the participants. The districts comprise about 19,500 students and 40 schools.
The State Board of Education approved a state intervention in New London Public Schools earlier this year, with special master Dr. Steven Adamowski saying the district has struggled with inadequate funding, dysfunctional governance, and student performance levels that have lagged behind state averages. The New London Board of Education is currently working on a three-year strategic plan to improve student performance.
The board has also taken action on a local level to increase learning time, recently approving an updated 2012-2013 school year calendar that reduces the number of half days. In October, Adamowski said the half days as scheduled resulted in only 15 out of 36 weeks having a full five-day schedule and the school year as a whole having the equivalent of only 168 days out a 180-year calendar.