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.
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.