Time, the great equalizer

Day 3 of my “promise” to try and become a better and more focused blogger brings a little more focus.  Today, I dedicated my time and effort to one subject.  I did my research, sat down and wrote, and more importantly stayed focused.  Success!  Read on…

time2Somewhere, sometime, something must give.  I don’t think any teacher would argue that we could all use more time.  Time in the classroom is gold and we could all use more gold in our pocket.  Many countries, American and charter schools have recently embraced longer school days or more time devoted to core academic classes. Recent research generally supports the notion that additional time raises achievement.  The evidence shows that achievement increases with instruction time and that the increase varies by both amount of time and classroom environment.  Is the extension of the school day, and dare I say, Saturday school, the answer?  Those that endorse the KIPP Academy School model would say yes.

According to their Wikipedia page, The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) is a nationwide network of free open-enrollment college preparatory schools in under-resourced communities throughout the United States. KIPP schools are usually established under state charter school laws and KIPP is America’s largest network of charter schools.  KIPP students are admitted through a lottery system. After a student is selected from the lottery and the student decides that he or she would like to attend a KIPP school, a home visit is set up with a teacher or the principal of the school, who meets with the family and student(s) to discuss expectations of all students, teachers and the parents in KIPP. Students, parents, and teachers are then all required to sign a KIPP commitment of excellence, agreeing to fulfill specific responsibilities, promisin
g that they will do everything in their power to help the student succeed and go to college.

Teachers work approximately 60-80 hours a week and there is a great deal of teacher turnover.  As of spring 2015, 45 percent of KIPP students have earned a four-year college degree after finishing eighth grade at a KIPP middle school ten or more years ago. This is above the national average for all students (34 percent), and five times the rate of the average student from a low-income community (9 percent). By extending school days, requiring attendance on Saturdays, offering extra-curricular activities, and adding three extra weeks of school in July, students have more educational opportunities. Most KIPP schools run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on select Saturdays (usually twice a month).

At first, the extra time of the KIPP program seems a little excessive. Though, as they say, the proof is in the pudding, and who can argue with the results.  I am not sure the KIPP Model is right for every situation, I am sure there is a happy medium.  All we want is what’s best for the kids, but are we ready to make such a dramatic commitment?

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