Five states, including Connecticut, announced they will participate in a major new effort to support disadvantaged students by adding significantly more time to the school year, beginning as early as 2013.
“I am not opposed to the addition of up to 300 hours of class time for the pilot schools, but I think the changes need to be connected to comprehensive school reform. Without a shared understanding of how the additional time will benefit students, it will merely turn into longer days for young children who, in the early grades, already struggle to stay focused during a 7-hour day,” says Basmadjian.
“The traditional school day and calendar are remnants of an agricultural period in our country, so there is no research to suggest what we currently do is ideal. Other countries, for example, have longer days and in some cases, even attend school during the weekend. But unless we really think about the purpose of the longer day, and change the nature of teaching and learning so that it is aligned with what we know from research about how kids learn and how the brain works, we will merely be adding time to an already long day for young children. Rather than a longer day, I would advocate a longer school year. But again, I would argue that there needs to be a clear purpose for what will be accomplished during that longer day, rather than more of the same – particularly if ‘more of the same’ is didactic instruction featuring very little technology, student engagement, and constructivist, project-based instruction and assessment.”
To schedule an interview with Basmadjian, please call John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations at 203-206-4449.