Department of Education: If Test Scores Go Up, Policy May Go City-Wide

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The school day is about to get longer for some New York City school kids — and we’re not talking a couple of minutes. It’s about to be two and a half hours longer.

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If scores go up, the plan could be extended city-wide, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.

Will an intensive reading program and an extended school day help Johnny read?

City officials hope so. They’re launching a pilot program with 2,000 middle school students to see if it’s an idea whose time has come.

“It’s where the achievement gap really seems to grow, in New York City about three-fourths of seventh and eighth graders. Three-fourths of seventh and eighth graders do not read at a proficient level,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

Under a pilot program that will start in September, sixth graders at 20 schools throughout the city will stay in the classroom two and a half hours longer for intensive language tutoring — every day — and then continue the longer day into seventh and eighth grades. If they outperform other kids the city will seek to expand the program.

“One of the greatest things we can do is talk about how we can ramp this up, how we make it bigger and better,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.

“When you get a sixth grader who’s already two or three years behind their ability to engage with a math problem their ability to engage with a history text book is very, very low. They get frustrated and it starts a cycle where they stop liking school, stop believing in themselves,” Department of Education Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said.

Sixth graders weren’t too enthusiastic.

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“I don’t think extra school would be good,” Heneen Khan said.

“I wouldn’t want it,” another student said.

“Not me. I like the day how it is,” Lucas Croney added.

“There will be more education, more learning but in my opinion I wouldn’t want it because I have more things to enjoy the day,” Andre Eisenberg said.

Parents, however, seem to be all on board.

“There’s a great need for additional education and resources,” Reyna Franco said.

“I think it’s a great idea. The kids need it,” Gil Denard added.

“It would depend on the family. For us, I would not like that but other children who might need the work it might be a good idea,” Olivia Kahmi said.

The National Center on Time and Learning estimates about 1,000 districts nationwide have adopted longer days or years. The hours are going to be flexible, depending on the school, with each school getting to decide the hours.

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