Extended time is a frequently cited strategy for improving student achievement, and educators from seven Connecticut schools today had a chance to plan how they will make use of extended time at their schools. Schools in Bridgeport, Meriden, and Windham are now planning for extended time for the 2014-2015 school year as part of the TIME Collaborative.
Teams from each school, including Wilbur Cross, Beardsley, and Edison Elementary Schools in Bridgeport, met today in Meriden to continue planning how their schools will make use of approximately 300 extra hours per year supported by the Collaborative. Schools have the option to choose how to focus the extended time, from academic support to enrichment activities, to best meet the needs of their students.
The schools meeting today will join a first cohort of Connecticut TIME Collaborative schools in New London, East Hartford, and Meriden that have already implemented extended time.
Though not part of the TIME Collaborative, Curiale School in Bridgeport has instituted extended learning time as part of its Network School plan. Curiale manages the staffing issues that can come with extended time by staggering start time for staff and appropriately compensating teachers who work a longer day.
Maryclaire Reeves, a kindergarten teacher at Curiale School, says that she likes the extended time for her students because the day is able to be more relaxed. “It’s nice to know I have those extra 45 minutes to do enriching acivities,” she said.
The Collaborative schools receive capacity-building grants from The Ford Foundation, but it’s not yet clear whether there will be sufficient funds available to the schools to manage a staggered staffing schedule or hire additional staff.
Reeves and fellow Bridgeport Education Association Executive Board member Cheryl Bochet said that it’s hard to implement a program for more time without more staff. The teachers want to ensure that students will receive appropriate attention and support from certified staff who can meet their needs. Schools making use of extended learning time also have to factor in the logistics and cost for transportation and nutrition programs.
Schools that take these factors into account and receive appropriate support can create opportunities for student growth. Extended time can be an important way to allow children to participate in physical education, arts, and other enrichment activities that they would otherwise not be able to access.