“Time Well Spent” in the Nation’s Capital

We were honored to receive the endorsement of our latest publication, Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful, Expanded-Time Schools, from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Secretary Duncan explained why more time is so critical:

If we’re serious about closing achievement gaps, if we’re serious about turning around underperforming schools, we can’t just keep doing business as usual. The fact that our school calendar is still based upon the agrarian economy is stunning to me. And the fact that we have been so slow to move is just absolutely unacceptable. What this report helps to demonstrate in very concrete ways is that this isn’t just a good idea theoretically, but that it’s getting results…. Students having 25 – 30 percent more time, day after day after day, that’s quality time. That’s going to make a huge difference in their lives.

And this isn’t just to close achievement gaps, but to help our students compete on a level playing field with their counterparts across the globe. Right now, children in India, children in China are going to school 30, 35, 40 more days than our students. Our children are as talented, as creative, as entrepreneurial as children anywhere in the world, but [with less time in school] we’re not giving them a chance to be successful.

I have nothing really to add to the Secretary’s poignant statement about the need for more school time, but I did want to elaborate on our new report and the value we hope it brings to practitioners and policymakers.

First, the study’s purpose is to learn from the field. The report delves deeply into what it means to use time well, drawing on some of the nation’s most successful schools as laboratories for learning. When we went looking for schools to demonstrate how to use time well, we focused on schools that had demonstrated year after year that they have the capacity to enable children to achieve at high levels.

Second, Time Well Spent offers readers very specific practices - 24 of them - that can be models for others to employ. This study is more akin to a user’s manual than a newspaper report.

Finally, this report makes crystal clear that while time alone is not enough, more time, well spent, is an absolutely essential factor in the success of a school. It takes the coordinated resources of people, data, culture, and time to make schools really effective. Additional time has a way of making the other essential elements of well-functioning schools function better, but without these first three elements, more time would lay dormant.

Over the coming years, we hope that Time Well Spent is well used by the increasing number of schools that have been granted the opportunity to expand their learning time. It is a resource with real resonance, and maybe, just maybe, it will help other schools to move from chronically underperforming to continuously improving. After all, that is what the power of more time is all about.