The School Year Shuffle

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Reducing summer learning loss by extending the school year seems like a good way to improve achievement. As Motoko Rich recently reported in the New York Times, the Balsz elementary school district in Arizona added 20 days to its calendar and saw a 14% increase in passing rate on the state reading test.

Of course, lengthening the school year doesn't come cheap. In fact, a number of districts are actually choosing to reduce the number of school days to balance their budgets.

Looking through the TR3 database, we found 40 districts that had made some change to the number of days they were in session between last school year and the one coming up.

All told, the average net change in instructional time in these districts came to just another 54 minutes -- or one school period -- across the entire year. Rich may well be right that more school leaders than before are considering lengthening the school year, but it's hard to imagine this reform will become much of a trend.