Section III—A New School Day and School Year

Section III—A New School Day and School Year

In a transformed education profession, the academic needs of the student body would determine the structure of the school day, week, and year. Students would no longer be held in lock-step, age-based cohorts (grades), but would instead progress through the system based on what they know and can do. Some students may need a longer school day or school year, while others performing at or above grade level might be able to learn within the time traditionally allotted or at an even faster pace. For teachers, this means that the hours of instruction might vary depending on the student population. Teachers working with students in need of additional learning time might have extended hours of instruction to provide every student with time and support to master the content. As instructional leaders, principals will work with teachers to determine the most effective strategies to utilize time.

Teachers would work professional weeks and days—as many do already—that extend beyond the traditional school day to include the extra hours needed to get the job done. Removing the outdated punch-the-clock model that currently exists in many schools would enable teachers to have more choice and flexibility in how they use each day to accomplish their goals. More flexibility in the school day would also allow teachers time for reflection, for the review of student data, for ongoing professional development, for research and tool development, and for collaborative problem solving and planning with colleagues, including special education teachers and those who teach English Learners. In some cases, time spent on duties out of class might far exceed the amount spent in the classroom. Even when the hours of instruction remain roughly the same, many teachers would work year-round to provide additional instruction for certain students, to collaborate with colleagues, and to engage in meaningful professional learning. For example, a cohort of teachers who focus on remediating students who are falling behind might have a lighter load during the normal school schedule, but they might use additional periods to help students who need more time. Others might participate in strategic planning for the school, extracurricular activities with students (college tours, summer field trips, etc.), or curriculum development during the extended time. Principals will maximize use of the additional time, not by adding to teachers' workloads, but by teaming with teacher leaders at the school to provide the structures, schedules, and systems needed to support great teaching.

Finally, to provide the flexibility that teachers might need at different points in their careers—and to allow schools to meet students' needs most efficiently—part time teaching opportunities could be available so that some teachers may work fewer hours a day, fewer days a week, or fewer months a year. Teaching is uniquely suited to this type of flexible staffing, and it should be an option offered to teachers and schools with unique needs, for example those in rural or hard-to-staff areas.


The information enclosed in this section is informative and enlightening. I agree that the time has finally come to embrace more 21st Century teaching and learning. I have been a teacher for more than 9 years and too often, like so many of us in this profession, work countless hours that far exceed our normal school day hours. I would like to see some of the flexible staffing suggestions mentioned in this session being implemented in a pilot program in an urban and/or suburban school.

I like the comment on the 21st Century School day and year; I would also like to add another strategy with year-round schooling for both student and teacher that is base the school year as semester where teacher sees those students for an entire semester and then a new students another semester with 2 or 3 weeks break between each semester. This way teachers and students take breaks to rejuvenate. As for the school day, some school systems what is termed flexible schedules for elementary, middle and high school students----there could be flexible hours with students attending 4 to 5 hours. This is just another strategy.

This all sounds great but it is useless to think that a teacher has the time to do so much differentiating---which is absolutely necessary for student success---when there are more than 20 students in a class. Anything more than that is not teaching, it is just crowd control. If the day and year are lengthened, will teachers still be considered part time workers by the Federal Government? (Currently, teachers have to work more quarters than any other profession to receive full Social Security benefits) And will the assistants be educated, education oriented persons or just some well-meaning parent off the street? Does all this apply only to middle and high schools? Will there be educated librarians and other support staff at each school to help teachers with these important duties? And, finally, will the pay for teachers be respectable instead of just an afterthought?

I am a dedicated teacher and love working with kids. As with the majority of teachers, I have spent many evenings at ball games, curriculum meets, parent-teacher meetings, and a host of school sponsored events. As a sponsor of a student organization, I have spent many weekends traveling to conventions, preparing students for competitive events, and chaperoning their evenings. I care deeply about student learning, and most of my free time, I spend updating curriculum, working on lesson plans, and reading educational articles. And then, the school day starts with a class room of 20-30 students that require my undivided attention. When school is out for the summer, I am totally exhausted and need time to recouperate before starting a new year. As far as I know, the majority of schools require their teachers to enroll in summer workshops and/or conferences as part of their contract agreement for continuing education credits. Then, the endless department meetings and additional workshops to welcome teachers to the new school year. I agree that our education system needs a major overhaul, but, I find it difficult to believe that increasing the school year for teachers will make better teachers.

~~ Teachers make all other professions possible! ~~

I think the proposed plan to extend the school day and school year has positive aspects for both the students and the teachers. With the extended day/year students will be able to achieve more by having the extra assistance by the teacher and be able to work at a more manageable pace. I do understand personally the need to have a balance in your life between work and home. However, if the proposed plan works as suggested, teachers should have time in the" more flexible" work day to accomplish the tasks that often linger by the end of the day and as a result need tending to after work hours.

The idea of using part -time teachers to alleviate the teachers who provide students with extra support sounds good, but it needs to be looked at carefully. If the schedules of the part- time teachers are consistent on a daily basis it may work. For instance the same morning teacher every day may not pose a problem because there will be an established routine. But if there is inconsistency, I agree with others who have commented on the topic, that is not what's best for the students. To achieve the best learning potential I feel students need to have stability in the classroom.

I think that the current model of a one or two planning periods a day does not leave room for teachers to get effective planning and reflection completed with in the school day. The teachers that I have the opportunity to work with would have to take work home almost every night, wether it be grading, unit analysis of recent assessment, planning for the next unit and preparing to meet their students needs. I think that a model like the one provided here should be to reward these teachers who are already putting in these extra hours and providing them the tools to complete the work, that has traditionally gone home with them, in to the school day.

We believe that the school day should be unique to each school setting. Extending the day or changing hours must be done on a case by case basis as each school has unique needs that must be met. The idea of a part-time teacher would not work because it potentially provides instability that will affect student learning. How would this work in an elementary school setting or a high-needs school where teacher stability is especially important to student learning. The idea of extending the school day fails to take into account the personal lives of teachers and assumes that teachers stop working when the school bell rings. False! Teacher work loads often extend into the evenings and weekends already with grading, conferences, phone calls While the ideas here are a good basis for beginning a discussion they are not fully developed nor fully take into account the work done by teachers already.

I strongly agree that there needs to be more flexibility in the way that teachers have their days structured. One that is more responsive to the tasks being taken on by each teacher. It also makes sense that some teachers need to be available for remediation, while others may be able to teach a larger number of sections per day. Some teachers may be performing quasi-administrative duties, while others may not.

I also appreciate the recognition that teaching needs to move away from the 7-3 mindset and accept that it is a job that requires long hours, potentially year round, and pay it accordingly.

My only concern in this section is the mention of part time teachers. While I understand the value of it, I wonder if it will be harder to ensure the same standards of quality from part time teachers as full time. I also am concerned about what it does to staff and school climate to have part time teachers.

This is a good conversation. A topic that has been discussed time and time again. We already have an extended school day (i.e. "after school", "pm school", and we use to have "night school"). We already have year-long school (i.e. "regular school", "summer school","holiday school", and "Saturday school"). We offer tutoring (i.e. before school, after school, during school, and Satuday school). The problem we face in educating our children is complex and simple. The solution(s) will be complex and simple. We need educators to create and implement policy, curriculum, and standards; those who are trained in the field of education which involves child development. We need a society that will nuture our children and give them the foundation that is needed to learn. Poverty, lack of family time, lack of resources, large class sizes, school budgets, politics, etc.; all have a negative effect on student learning. In order to educate, we must examine the whole child and the environment in which they learn.

I believe that socially promoting children must stop if we are to improve our educational system. I do believe that there is work to be done in this area on how it would be structured especially for Special Education Students. I am a special education teacher and this area plays a huge role in many students with disabilities. It is a very sensitive issue and needs to be addressed as such. I also believe that most schools try their best at placing children where they need to be but sizes of classrooms have become ridiculous even in the self contained settings for special education. It normally comes down to funding which is the bottom line on a great deal of this. If we want to see the educational system reformed, then the students as well as the teachers needs must be met. I especially like the flexible staffing....part time teachers for lack of a better word.....especially for those in rural counties, which I teach in one of those. I believe we could get more of the cream of the crop in education if we had some of these programs.

Retaining students does not help either. There are a number of alternatives, such as multi-age classrooms based on standards and lasting only up to nine weeks or so. Students are in the classroom working on a specific standards and move on when they reach those standards. If they don't meet the standards in the time allotted they don't move on but rather over to a similar class, possibly with a different teacher, but still focusing on the standards they need to learn before moving on.

this is a bit more difficult in the elementary grades than middle or high school, but still can be done. They key is reevaluating every quarter and building units of study to match the quarter.

Definitely this is an ideal approach to this 21st Century Global Society of learning. Those students who are higher functioning can move along and not be held back, whereas those who are not yet at the higher functioning level will be able to work effectively within their own level and be successful at the same time.

Kudos to this idea!

The Good Force be with you!

A New School Day and School Year will effectively change the trend towards the best utilization of time by the teachers and the students.

Live forever and prosper!

This section is mostly good, with two important caveats: it will be expensive, since the main reason teachers can't currently do all of those appealing out-of-class chores in American schools resides in the contact ratios implicit in our contracts, and if you're going to reduce our current customary secondary teacher's contact ratio from 83% to the 60% or so that is common overseas, you're going to have to hire more teachers, which on top of your increased salary proposals is going to lead to really ballooning school budgets at a time when no such money is available; and, because you are so focused on equalizing outcomes (and therefore are prepared to devote more resources in terms of time and lower student/teacher ratios to slower learners than to the fast) that you are prepared to sacrifice equal inputs (by giving every child comparable access to public investment via access to teachers' time), you will again give parents like me an incentive to pull our children out of public schools and to vote for tax cuts for public education, since you discriminate against our children.

Another area to rethink is to look at regulating and organizing schools more specifically by who is served. Many times evaluation models and programs are applied across the board from elementary to high school. The needs are significantly different from elementary, where teachers most often teach all subjects to middle and high school. Developmental needs of students are so different and the needs of reform so varied. I think we often miss key opportunities for reform if we try to apply them too broadly.