EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 3, 2012

Some city students to get up to 300 extra learning hours

Some city schools to take part in pilot program

LAWRENCE — Teachers, parents, students and administrators agree making the school year longer for some city students will yield rewards.

“We believe that an extended school day, when done properly, can improve academic performance and add enrichment opportunities for students,” Jeffrey C. Riley, the state-appointed superintendent/receiver, said after an announcement Lawrence will take part in a five-state pilot program that could add an extra 100 hours of classroom instruction a year in some schools, on top of the 200 houurs already being added at most schools.

Most students in the city will spend an extra 200 hours in the classroom beginning in the 2013-2014 academic year as part of the school turnaround plan announced this summer.

Those schools that participate in the pilot rogram would spend an additional 100 on top of that. Six schools in Lawrence have applied, but not yet known how many will participate. 

Lawrence already has several schools that offer extended hours — UP Academy Lawrence, the Fifth Grade Academy at South Lawrence East, Community Day at Arlington School and Phoenix Academy.

“This year is a planning year, when principals will work with parents and teachers in their communities to determine each individual school’s need,” Riley said.

Lawrence and Fall River were the two districts selected by the National Center on Time and Learning in Massachusetts. More than 19,500 students in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Colorado and Tennessee will participate. The Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning are also contributing resources.

It is hoped the initiative will improve the global competitiveness of U.S. students by expanding and better using the school day.

Massachusetts already has 65 schools with expanded learning time programs, including 19 state-funded schools with about 10,700 students. The state was early adopter of expanded learning, starting its programs in 2006. The programs were funded this year with $14.1 million in grants.

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