You’ll forgive me for another post about what is happening in Boston with regard to expanded time, but, since there is a lot going on, it is difficult to avoid. 

A few months ago, I wrote about how one of the issues that we’re focused on at NCTL is helping schools to improve student attendance. Of course schools need more learning time, but if there are students who are missing class often, what is the point of a longer school day and year for them? 


We were pleased to learn yesterday that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has appointed Jeffrey Riley to head up the turnaround efforts at one of the state’s most underperforming districts, the Lawrence Public Schools. 

This past week, I had the opportunity to visit the Edward Brooke Charter School in Boston. My reason for going to visit was to better understand how this high-performing school designs their educational program and their professional development protocols to generate strong results. And by strong results, I mean really strong results. 

This is a guest post by Jennifer Davis, NCTL's  Co-Founder & President. It is cross-posted on CNN's new education blog Schools of Thought.

Common sense tells us that when it comes to learning, time matters. An individual simply cannot become more proficient in any given area without committing a certain amount of time to grasping new content, practicing and honing skills, and then applying such knowledge and skills to realizing specific outcomes.

This is a guest post by Jennifer Davis, NCTL's  Co-Founder & President

The recent research brief from the National School Boards Association, an analysis of the quantity of instructional time in various countries, concludes by noting that what really matters with instructional time is “how effectively that time is used.” Here at NCTL, we agree with that point, and also agree that “providing extra time is only useful if that time is used wisely.” 

Following up on yesterday’s post about the editorial in the Washington Post explaining that if the District’s schools are to succeed they should follow the lead of high-performing charter schools, I wanted to draw attention to an editorial in the Boston Globe that, in significant ways, picks up where the Post editorial left off. 


Last week, I attended (virtually) the release of results of 21 urban districts that participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, commonly referred to as “the nation’s report card”). The Trial Urban District Assessment or TUDA, tests a representative sample of students in 4th and 8th grade to determine how schools in some of the nation’s largest districts are faring.  Overall, the findings were framed with a kind of cautious optimism because there were many positive signs—a rise in scores in both subjects at both grade levels for most districts—amidst the basic reality that most districts still trail national averages and exhibit yawning achievement gaps between students of different racial backgrounds. 

Much of what we hear in the press these days about our public education system focuses on what is wrong. We seem barraged almost daily with stories of dysfunctional schools, unions warring with administration, the high drop-out rate, misspent resources, and on and on. So it comes as a breath of fresh air when the press takes a break from reporting on the negative to highlight schools that are getting things right.

When I was conducting research on the Volusia County (Florida) Plus One program for our study of three districts, I asked the then-Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Chris Colwell, why Volusia was the only district in Florida that had implemented a program to expand learning time for Title I schools. After all, the way that teachers and principals raved about having the additional hour each day, and the way that the program had enabled the nine schools to make real progress, you would think that other Florida districts would catch on.  His response was that they expended all their energy into making the schools better, rather than promoting the program.