More time in school often doesn’t add up

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By Jill Barshay

I’ve been interested in summarizing the research evidence for oft-mentioned ideas to help students catch up after months of lost learning during the pandemic. Earlier this year, I wrote about the slim evidence for summer school. Another appealing idea that doesn’t have a deep research base: longer school days and school years.  
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Key Findings 
  • A review of more than 35 studies found that the extra time often didn’t produce academic benefits for students and when it did, the benefits were small. 

  • High performing charter schools tend to have longer days and longer school years but researchers cannot determine if the extra time is a key to their success or if it’s all the other things these schools are doing.

Teacher Takeaway 
  • How you use the extra time is important. Using the extra time for daily, intensive tutoring is promising. A double dose of math -- a remedial class and a grade-level class -- warrants further research.
Lit Review 

Expanding Time for Learning Both Inside and Outside the Classroom: A Review of the Evidence Base By Zakia Redd, Christopher Boccanfuso, Karen Walker, Daniel Princiotta, Dylan Knewstub, and Kristin Moore. (August 2012) by Child Trends, commissioned by the Wallace Foundation. 

 

Reimagining the School Day: More Time for Learning, Wallace Foundation report on 2011 conference.  

 

Erika A. Patall, University of Texas at Austin, Harris Cooper and Ashley Batts Allen, Duke University, Extending the School Day or School Year: A Systematic Review of Research (1985–2009) Review of Educational Research. (September 2010) Vol. 80, No. 3, pp. 401–436 

 

Patall EA, Cooper H, Allen AB. Extending the School Day or School Year: A Systematic Review of Research (1985–2009). Review of Educational Research. 2010;80(3):401-436.  

 

Kidron, Y., & Lindsay, J. (2014). The effects of increased learning time on student academic and nonacademic outcomes: Findings from a meta-analytic review. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia  

 

Expanded Learning Time brief (March 2021) The Education Trust and MDRC staff, including Kayla Patrick, senior P-12 policy analyst (Ed Trust), and Allison Socol, Ph.D., assistant director of P-12 Policy (Ed Trust), Jean B. Grossman, Ph.D., Senior Fellow (MDRC), and Miki Bairstow Shih, technical research analyst (MDRC).  

 

Federal Funding for and Characteristics of Public Schools with Extended Learning Time GAO-16-141, Nov 30, 2015. U.S. Government Accountability Office.  

 

Evaluation of Citizen Schools’ Expanded Learning Time Model: Final Report (October 2016) Prepared for: Citizen Schools 308 Congress St., 5th Floor Boston, MA 02210 Submitted by: Abt Associates 

 

Evaluation of the Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time (ELT) Initiative Year Five Final Report: 2010-2011 (February 2012) Prepared for: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Prepared by: Abt Associates Inc.  

 

Checkoway, A., Gamse, B., Velez, M., & Linkow, T. (2013). Evaluation of the Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time (ELT) initiative: Final study findings. Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 

 

Folsom, J. S., Osborne-Lampkin, L., Cooley, S., & Smith, K. (2017). Implementing the extended school day policy in Florida's 300 lowest performing elementary schools (REL 2017-253). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast. 

Advocacy organizations: 

National Association for Year-Round Education 

National Center on Time and Learning 

Time to Succeed Coalition 

 

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