guidebooks, Stoops wrote.
The United States ranked 27th out of 39 countries. U.S. students spent the equivalent of four weeks more than the global average time in math class, but ranked only barely ahead of the lowest fourth.
A study published by Pennsylvania State University found similar results in science, reading, and civics instruction. The researchers recommended that as long as scores were within international norms, “Do not waste resources in marginal increases in instructional time … If there is a choice between using resources to increase time versus improving teaching and the curriculum, give priority to the latter.”
Publications from the Department of Public Instruction acknowledge the need to focus on instructional quality over simple questions of seat time. DPI’s guide for implementing the Standard Course of Study, a pair of documents titled, The Balanced Curriculum, cautions, “extending the school day won’t necessarily help teachers deliver a balanced curriculum. Research has shown that it is how time is used verses [sic] the amount of time that students are in school that makes a difference.”
Stoops acknowledged that some successful schools do have a longer instructional day, such as those based on the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP). However, he said, the difference is what they do with the time.
“KIPP’s success has much more to do with their high-quality instruction and superior school climate than with the length of their school day. KIPP schools are able to fill their longer school day with highly effective instruction, whereas most public schools do not,” he said.
“Otherwise,” he said, “the measure becomes one in a long list of one-size-fits-all reforms that invariably fail to deliver on the promise of increasing student achievement.”