How schools using a longer day are raising instructional efficiency through a faculty’s joint planning and sharing of student data

Greg Fox could not contain his enthusiasm. As principal of Dr. Thomas S. O’Connell Elementary School West in East Hartford, Conn., for the last three years, Fox led a school redesign that, beginning in September 2013, added 300 more scheduled hours to the school year for his 315 students.

With this agreement, Boston is emerging as one of the country’s leaders as it embarks on a plan to expand learning time for both teachers and students. 

At NCTL, we believe it’s important that we recognize this day and honor the obligation to protect human rights every day of the year. The theme for this year’s Human Rights celebrates the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that each one of us, everywhere, at all times, is entitled to the full range of human rights

I recall President Bill Clinton saying that, next to president, the toughest office to hold in the United States is member of the local school board. And you can see his point. Political decisions that directly affect the lives of children are always tough. 

It is exciting that in New York State, six of nine school districts that won the award are choosing to move forward with planning for redesigned and expanded school days with the state grant.

Only four years ago, Disrupting Class introduced many of us to blended learning—defined generally as a student learning environment which combines online digital content with teacher-led instruction.

I always say that the best part of my work at NCTL is when I visit schools. There is no better feeling—for me, anyhow—than to walk into a school and see students and teachers engaged in active learning. Those moments when you can see kids’ gears turning, when you sense that everyone in the room wants to do their best, is what those of us who advocate for stronger schools imagine is our core objective.

Until 2009, the federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) Program had been a comparatively modest program within Title I. However, a boost in base funding to $546 million—along with a one-time infusion of $3 billion from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—cast SIG in a new role as the de facto leader in the field of whole-school redesign.

Last month, I had the privilege of joining the Massachusetts state team and several of our TIME Collaborative planning schools from Tennessee in our fall Seeing is Believing Tour, a showcase of six Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time (ELT) schools who have been thoughtful and effective in their implementation of ELT with the assistance of NCTL.

Once, while on a school visit in Syracuse, a teacher in an expanded-time school asked a kindergarten class to compare an aspect of two books they were reading. Immediately, several five- year-old students raised their hands and one student confidently stated, “We need to look in the book for textual evidence.”  I almost fell out of my chair!