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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Extending the School Day Could Be Worth the Cost

Dr. Katie Klinger

STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert

I agree with Maurice Elias's blog entry about furlough days for Hawaii's public schools -- a total redesign of the school day to meet the needs of our 21st-century learners. This means relevant, creative-project and service-learning environments aligned not only to state standards but also to student interests.

I am happy to share that one nonprofit corporation in Hawaii is doing just this. The Ho'okako'o Corporation (HC) is dedicated to transformational change that supports new opportunities for student success through conversion charter schools. Ho'okako'o is a Hawaiian word that means "to cause, to support" -- and HC is proving to be true to its name. With 1,500 students in three island schools, it is committed to redesigning public schools.

For those of you who are not familiar with the term "conversion charter school," a school in this category used to be a traditional state-supported school but elected to become a charter school. In doing so, it is able to keep its school facilities as long as it agrees to teach all children within its geographic area. (Of the 31 charter schools in Hawaii, five are conversion charters.)

HC and its three conversion charter schools are not doing teacher furloughs. They are actually moving in the opposite direction -- investing in more instructional time. HC schools are adding an extra hour to the school day, with an additional 10 days of teaching this year and 14 days next year.

In one HC school, 96 percent of the teachers voted to adopt a supplemental union contract in order to add the additional hours and days, believing that doing so is in the best interests of their students.

HC's three conversion charter schools are located on separate islands. Although each school is unique due to its island heritage, they are all Title I schools -- challenged by the impact of poverty. Native Hawaiian children, who have the highest risk factors of children in Hawaii, comprise 50-90 percent of the schools' populations.

One of the HC schools, Oahu's Kamaile Academy, in Waianae, is in the highest-poverty area in Hawaii, with close to 70 percent of its students either homeless or houseless (living in cramped quarters with multiple families.) When you drive down the main street of Waianae, the poverty jumps out at you -- weeded lots, broken bottles, torn signage, boarded-up buildings, and roadside trash. Estimates are that 5,000-6,000 people live on the beaches in the squalor of tent cities -- and not by choice.

The Kamaile Academy has a student transiency rate of 34 percent each year -- an educational revolving door as the children move from school-to-school when the state sweeps the beaches.

With guidance from the nonprofit organization Massachusetts 2020, the Kamaile Academy is piloting the Expanded Learning Time Model Initiative, increasing instructional time by 30 percent at the school.

The concept of expanded learning time requires the complete redesign of a school's educational program. For starters, ELT increases the instructional time and supports teachers by giving them more time for planning, training, and professional development.

In Hawaii, HC stands alone in innovation. Here's what it is doing:

  • Rewriting union contracts to provide teacher stipends for additional work time.
  • Piloting an ELT model with the state Department of Education.
  • Renewing Hawaiian cultural knowledge for school personnel who come from the same cultural background as students.
  • Providing all students with enrichment activities to enhance educational services provided to Native Hawaiian children.

With longer school days, HC schools now have the flexibility to create culturally healthy and responsive learning environments for at-risk students. Students experience integrated projects through observation and hands-on demonstrations of cultural knowledge and skills. They also engage in intergenerational learning practices of good stewardship, resource sustainability, and spirituality.

Historically, Native Hawaiians believe that it takes a village to raise a child. HC conversion charters have certainly taken this belief to heart -- and to practice.

Could having additional time for learning make a difference? What about at your school and for your students? Please share your thoughts and ideas.

Dr. Katie Klinger

STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert
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Comments (41)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Mrs. H's picture

I also believe that good educators do what they can to go above and beyond to reach all students. I do this on a daily basis. However, I hardly have enough time in a day to get all of my lessons finished. There are so many required services that students are pulled out for, that I am losing instruction time. We also implemented an intervention session this year which takes instruction away also. I am only able to teach guided reading 4 days a week for 50 minutes a day. I take every spare minute I have to squeeze in some kind of reading activity. Having to pass a state test makes this even more stressful. Extending the day even half an hour would help my situation. I know that students need time to themselves and to do other activities, but without knowledge and the time to learn, they aren't going to be able to do many things when they get older.

Lisa Bunn's picture

You are so right, Pamela, on the fact that student achievement is rapidly declining. A colleague and myself were just visiting about the lack of writing skills that students today have. I am with you on not knowing the answer....it needs to be carefully examined for sure.

Dr. Katie Klinger's picture
Dr. Katie Klinger
STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert
Blogger 2014

Dear Lisa, many of the teachers who were initially involved in Expanded Learning Time held the same viewpoint that you have shared with us. After they began to see the benefits (Edwards Middle School in Boston is one example that comes to my mind right away), they decided to join the movement and have found many benefits in it for themselves as well as their students. It was purely voluntary, and they watched it happen before they decided whether or not they wanted to be a part of it all. Thanks for pointing out that parents are also responsible in this scenario as necessary for student success. Warmly, Dr. Katie

Dr. Katie Klinger's picture
Dr. Katie Klinger
STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert
Blogger 2014

Dear Lucy, where are you located? Maybe there is some way to get a community foundation grant to help jump start the expanded learning time once again at your school? Warmly, Dr. Katie

Dr. Katie Klinger's picture
Dr. Katie Klinger
STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert
Blogger 2014

Dear Mrs. H: thank you for your comments - one of the valuable parts of an expanded day is that you can spend targeted time with each student individually or in small groups. Expanded learning time is really to enrich the student in a multitude of ways that can motivate them to learn core basics through project based learning, etc. It also provides innovative ideas like the Math competitions that are held in the Boston schools. The following link will lead you to some interesting parent reviews about their feelings on expanded learning time at Edwards: http://www.trulia.com/schools/MA-Charlestown/Clarence_Edwards_Middle_Sch...
Warmly, Dr. Katie

Dr. Katie Klinger's picture
Dr. Katie Klinger
STEM & Digital Equity Grantwriter & Education Technology Integration Expert
Blogger 2014

Dear Tabitha, you are so correct...just adding time is not the solution. It takes complete school redesign with all stakeholders to get the maximum effect from expanded learning time. But when everyone "buys in", incredible results occur. Recently, Massachusetts 2020 who have been working with schools with expanded learning time for over 4 years now released their report:

"With support from the Hewlett Foundation, the report, Tracking an Emerging Movement: A Report on Expanded-Time Schools in America, draws from our database of the 655 schools we identified across 36 states serving more than 300,000 students. The report analyzes the schools' key characteristics, as well as survey data on a subset of 245 schools on how the added time is utilized and funded. We also report the findings of our exploratory analysis on student outcomes. Notable findings include:
* On average these schools offer about 25 percent more time than the national norm of 180 six-hour days;
* While a majority of the schools included are public charter schools, more than one-quarter of the schools identified are standard district public schools;
* Compared with national averages, schools with expanded time serve a more heavily minority and poorer student population; and
* Data suggest that more time is associated with higher academic achievement, as students in schools with an expanded school day were found on average to outperform their district peers."

I find this pretty impressive. Warmly, Dr. Katie

girl's picture

heyy i think extending the school days would be horrible please obama for the sake of us kids and ur kids dont we need time for our selfs

girl's picture

heyy i think extending the school days would be horrible please obama for the sake of us kids and ur kids dont we need time for our selfs

girl's picture

i think that extending the school year would be horrible please dont were just kids

Mandy's picture

I agree that longer school days are not for everyone, but in the same respect I have a difficult time getting everything in during the day without rushing through some of the things. I believe that having a longer school day would allow me to add more project based learning into the curriculum. What things I have been able to add is also cut short on time, stunting the learning from the projects.

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