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Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way.
Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.
"Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas," the president said earlier this year. "Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom."
The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.
"Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
Regardless, there is a strong case for adding time to the school day.
Researcher Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution looked at math scores in countries that added math instruction time. Scores rose significantly, especially in countries that added minutes to the day, rather than days to the year.
"Ten minutes sounds trivial to a school day, but don't forget, these math periods in the U.S. average 45 minutes," Loveless said. "Percentage-wise, that's a pretty healthy increase."
In the U.S., there are many examples of gains when time is added to the school day.
Charter schools are known for having longer school days or weeks or years. For example, kids in the KIPP network of 82 charter schools across the country go to school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than three hours longer than the typical day. They go to school every other Saturday and for three weeks in the summer. KIPP eighth-grade classes exceed their school district averages on state tests.
In Massachusetts' expanded learning time initiative, early results indicate that kids in some schools do better on state tests than do kids at regular public schools. The extra time, which schools can add as hours or days, is for three things: core academics — kids struggling in English, for example, get an extra English class; more time for teachers; and enrichment time for kids.