Kuss Middle School serves students in Fall River, Mass., a former mill town that has struggled economically for decades. Students at Kuss have struggled, too, usually falling short of making the academic progress required under the No Child Left Behind law.
Then, last year, the school received a grant to experiment with extending the school day. Teachers got paid at a higher hourly rate.
Students weren’t thrilled at first with leaving school at 4:15 p.m. instead of at 2:20 p.m. But the added hours gave them more time for physical education and let them select special interest classes, in which teachers bolstered student skill deficits as revealed by testing. By the end of the year, student scores had risen by enough to enable Kuss to make the progress required under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The only surprise is that more districts haven’t lengthened school schedules set decades ago to accommodate a farm economy rather the information economy of today.