Longer School Year Not In The Cards For Norwalk

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Adding 300 hours onto the Norwalk school calendar is not a feasible solution to improve student achievement, according to Board of Education Chairman Michael Lyons.
Adding 300 hours onto the Norwalk school calendar is not a feasible solution to improve student achievement, according to Board of Education Chairman Michael Lyons. Photo Credit: Alfred Branch

NORWALK, Conn. – Lengthening the school calendar by as much as 300 hours is not a feasible option for Norwalk, according to Board of Education Chairman Michael Lyons.


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The federal Department of Education this week announced plans for a pilot program in 10 school districts in five states, including Connecticut, in which the school year will be increased by up to 300 hours to improve student achievement.

Lyons, speaking as an individual member of the Norwalk Board of Education, said such a pilot program might be worth studying, but he is “very skeptical” about the effects on students and learning by adding more time onto the school year.

“It would increase costs significantly when you look at the salaries of teachers and administrators, and the costs of operating the district,” Lyons said. In similar previous studies, the “research was very mixed.”

The New London, Meriden and East Hartford school districts are participating in the pilot program, which will begin in the fall of 2013. Besides Connecticut, the other states with districts in the pilot are Massachusetts, New York, Colorado and Tennessee, all of which will receive multimillion-dollar grants over the next three years. In many cases, the districts will increase each school day by more than an hour.

Lengthening the school calendar alone will not improve achievement, Lyons said. Schools need good teachers and a strong curriculum to properly engage students in the learning process, he said.

“My hope from this is that they study it enough that if the results come back good in some schools but bad in others, they can tell us why that happened,” Lyons said.

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Comments (16)

Ahh, come home from school, drop your books ( ever see kids bringing books home? ) and go outside, burn off some steam, while ya still have daylight. I rarely see the 20+ kids on my street outside during summer !
I almost always had a paper route and did my homework after dinner.
You're right about the testing, actually the hours and hours poured into ' how to take a test ' could be much better spent learning the answers rather than learning the odds as if it was a casino.
It would really shake things up if school began 15-30 minutes earlier, trimmed the lunch time down and a minute less between classes. If you're looking to gain an hour of quality time, it isn't that difficult.
No matter what, something needs to be done when people can't count change at the register that gives them the answer anyway. We've all had this experience at least once.

haven't read all the comments yet, BUT, if this "only an extra hour a day" happens, when will the kids have time to be kids? They'd come home and have 2 + hours of homework to do, and by the time they are done, it will be too late to go outside. In my opinion, they don't need to ADD to the day, they need to be able to teach in the hours they have. Which means, stop with all these testings they have 3 times a year! Do it the way it USED to be done, once a year, every three years. Kids LEARNED back in the day, they weren't "taught to the test" like kids today are

My.Lyon, please give Winifred Hamilton in Stamford a call and listen to what she has to say.

The school system still has a major debt that it has to pay back to Norwalk plus we need to bring back the programs that were lost. If adding time to the school year or day will help then let's do it. Mr.Lyon if u want a study all u have to do is look at china and other countries. Our kids lose out when they are our of school for 3 months. Because when they get back the first 3 months is review work.

So many creative ways to schedule come to mind if an additional hour is added to the school day. At the end of the day, students could participate in music, art and gym, leaving the best hours for learning in the morning. Teachers could have different hours during the workday, with the art teachers arriving later later in the day. In depth learning with hands on projects, reading/writing projects, real life math projects.....Wow! The possibilities sound fabulous! I would be majorly excited to have an additional hour of learning.

I'm not sure what time grade school kids start and finish today. I started at 6 years of age. My school day began at 8:05 with the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer. I believe my classes were 40 minutes long. Two of my morning subjects were Latin and religion. So by now it's 9:30, I had a total of 25 minutes for lunch and recess and my day ended at 2:10. So effectively they had 4 hours to teach me what the state required. The difference is that there was discipline and responsibility for homework. If you didn't have the homework you stayed after school to do it. If you disrupted class you were told once about it, if you were spoken to again you went to the Principals Office with your books. Hence there were no disruptions for discipline that took more than one minute of class time. I don't ever recall anybody having what we now call A.D.D. or anything else that would affect your ability to sit still, interact with the class and teacher about the subject matter. If you were left handed you learned to write with your right hand and your homework could be done left handed. You wore fresh, clean pressed clothes everyday and sneakers were not allowed. You brought you own lunch and bought milk from the school on a weekly basis. When I went to a Public High School at 14 I had quite an eye opener. I didn't learn a thing from that school that wasn't already covered in more detail than I got in grade school. Maybe 10 minutes of each and every class each and every day was taken away from me to deal with stragglers and disruptions. I skipped school nearly every week on either a friday or monday for four years. I was approached about it once and my answer was that I needed to work for the family. My first weeks in the Marine Corps still at 18 there was frequent aptitude testing. I wasn't in the Marine Corps a month when I was invited to go to Annapolis. So, not having a week off every 8 weeks and no disciplinary issues in grade school it seems to me is what's lacking in today's education process. It's not rocket science.

I went to school in UK...our school day at age 7-11 years old was 9 - 4. No one had a problem with it.

WOW, I would love my children to benefit from more hours of learning. Expanding the school year is not an option since most of our school get sweltering hot in June but adding an hour would be awesome! How about we also teach through the whole year and not until just the beginning of June. It was that way even when I was a kid...don't understand it.

Lengthening the school calendar alone will not improve achievement, Lyons said. Schools need good teachers and a strong curriculum to properly engage students in the learning process, he said.

That being said, I guess the five or six hours they spend sitting in school right now offers the students little benefit as well. Good teachers would help,...ya think?

Whys is it taking so long to get rid of the dead wood?

Lengthening the school calendar alone will not improve achievement, Lyons said. Schools need good teachers and a strong curriculum to properly engage students in the learning process, he said.

The biggest problem isn't our well-paid, dedicated teachers, or our curriculum. It's irresponsible parents who aren't able or willing to demand that their children behave, do their homework, and take their education seriously. If we can't find a fix for THAT problem, then nothing short of a massive overhaul will make headway. I believe that's what Steve Jobs was alluding to when he told President Obama that the first component of a real education reform plan would be to neutralize the Teachers Unions.

What is need if the child is not doing his homework then have the parents come in in the morning and have them miss work. Once one does this a fire is lit that I missed work because you are not doing your work at school .If the child continues not to do its work then the child should be left back. .

That is a great idea, and I bet it would be VERY effective. Unfortunately it's also probably illegal. I would love to see a financial or community service penalty for parents of students who don't take school seriously. You're going to let junior goof off? Fine, but you're guilty of wasting taxpayer resources, so you'll either pay a fine or spend five hours a week doing community service until he or she straightens up and flies right.

I'd say its a two part problem, the parents but also the teachers often leave much to be desired. My kids both went to Nathan Hale, a great school in most respects, but one where the Vice Principal uses terrible grammar and in general speaks like an ignorant person. Its hard to believe that people have our kids best interests in their minds when they let someone like this have such an important position in a school. Parents are also guilty but its not useful to paint our teachers & school staff as dedicated to the students when the obvious reality is most are dedicated to their paychecks.

Ken P

I'm sure there are some bad apples but I think by and large teachers are hard-working and dedicated. I'm all in favor of reform that considers performance with standardized tests or other measures, and makes it easier to fire non-performing teachers, but I doubt either of those things will make much difference in seriously underperforming schools. The larger problem is that as a City we are spending $150 million per year for education and the parents of many students aren't able or willing to parent them in a way that allows them to benefit from all the educational resources funded by our tax dollars. Those parents are guilty of wasting taxpayer resources and should be fined accordingly.

I'm a little confused here: There is a huge grant associated with this program and we are concerned about the costs that are covered..So where is the disconnect? And for the most part it would be an hour a day...60 minutes that's it!! And the fact the Mr. Lyons doesn't think there would be a benefit to the children is very concerning to me as a parent. We have had TONS and millions cut from our budget and now have a chance to get some extra cash and learning time for our children but he think the effects needs to be studied?!?!?! Mr. Lyons I am really surprised about this from you and all a "Study" is going to do is waste more time and more effort and money. I can truthfully think about 10 positives that would come out of this pilot program and we need EVERYTHING in Norwalk to help our students or are test scores in the middle and high school not accurate and we are just very skeptical of them. Norwalk needs to move forward shake our bad rap in our schools and give our children EVERYTHING we can to make them better. My son loosing an extra hour in an after school program versus being in class and getting extra help or learning something new?!??! Yeah, let me see the negative effect. Mr. Lyons, if you are going to lead the BOE then I truthfully think that you need to keep the students concerns first rather then the costs. If there is a chance to still get involved in this program I strongly urge the BOE to do so as soon as possible.

My kids are getting dumber by the min in these schools. When they graduate perhaps they can get for money from the state for special needs!!