Thompson: More Questions About ELT
The Education Sector's "Off the Clock: What More Time Can (and Can't) Do for School Turnarounds," by Elena Silva warns that the Duncan Administration's School Improvement Grant (SIG) effort may produce meager results if schools continue to extend learning time "without changing anything at all," just paying the $1300 per student price tag for increasing time in school. Silva reviews the large body of evidence that extending learning time (ELT) can work for low-income students, but only if the time is integrated into an overall model for rich and engaging instruction. SIG schools, understandably, "are choosing technical compliance with federal rules instead of the hard work of comprehensive reform." Silva may be the first policy analyst to explain why the hurried ELT efforts to comply with the rushed SIG timeline may make things worse for poor schools. One way she illustrates the problem is by looking at the longer hours from the perspective of teachers who "work in a pervasive culture - among staff and students alike - of low expectations." Given a long history of failed reforms, those teachers will start with doubts that the transformation will work, but with certainty that their jobs will become harder. "Meanwhile, just a few miles down the road, a nice suburban school faces only a fraction of your problems," Silva explains, "Unlike most of your students, you have the choice to leave. As with half of teacher at the difficult schools, you do."-JT (@drjohnthompson)image via.