compulsory hours of instruction

The US does not spend less time in school than other countries.  A new report looks at the compulsory hours of instruction time spent in school by country:

Some of the data used for calculating US hours is located here.  The US sets hours at the state level and so the data varies by state.

And the author notes:
However, the point should not be lost: the U.S. does not require schools to provide less instructional time than other countries.
Basing policy decisions on this false perception alone could be costly and provide no clear benefits. Providing extra time is only useful if that time is used wisely.  As the Center’s report Making Time found, the relationship between time and student learning is not about the amount of time spent in school. Rather, it is how effectively that time is used. And this report has also shown that there is no relationship between simply requiring more time and increased achievement. The data shows that a number of countries that require fewer hours of instruction outperform the U.S., while the U.S. performs as well as or better than some other countries that require more hours of instruction.
Making time: At a glance:
"Like class size reduction, increasing instructional time has lots of common-sense appeal as a mechanism for raising student achievement. It just stands to reason that more time for learning equals more being learned. But like smaller classes, more time in school can be costly, especially if it’s gained through lengthening the school year or adding time to the school day. "
Note these ideas about time that are recommended:
Determine how effectively school time is currently being used. For instance, states that are considering increasing instructional time should examine their academic standards along with all other requirements schools are expected to provide to determine whether they currently require enough school time to meet them. 
Explore scheduling alternatives that use existing time. For example, school districts could consider implementing a year-round calendar with the standard 180 days as a way to offset summer earning loss.
If considering block scheduling, look at the research. Block scheduling is intended to increase time on task, but the research results are mixed, with the 4X4 block producing the least gains. However, block scheduling can also provide time for teachers’ professional development or pull-out time for struggling students. 
Low-cost options, like four-day weeks, can prove beneficial to achievement as well. The research isn’t definitive, but some districts that have tried this are seeing unintended benefits in the form of higher test scores, decreased disciplinary problems, greater collaboration among teachers, and higher morale. 
Logistics can be challenging, but are solvable. In considering any change to school schedules, the biggest hurdle will often be logistics. Cost and child care (for instance, in moving to a year-round schedule) can be two of the biggest hurdles. Look at school success stories like this one to see how some school districts addressed these concerns.
The author of the report notes that using time effectively can help low-income students.

The report author cautions that just adding extra time is not a magic solution and in many cases, will not work. US students already spend lots of time in school. Extend the service hours, let families choose what they need, and move schools from factories to public social services. If families could choose their schedules, they would use the time wisely: some would need longer hours and some would use less.

Finland has set the bar for many nations by significantly reducing the hours of instruction they deliver.  Homeschoolers have always accomplished more with less: the instruction time itself can be the problem. Schools can dumb kids down and no one is measuring a baseline of kids not in school ... except homeschoolers.

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