Longer school days can boost student achievement

We applaud your recent editorial advocating the Baltimore City Public Schools examine extended school days as a way to boost student achievement ("Expanding the school day," Aug. 26).

Models like the Harlem Children's Zone are excellent examples of how additional instruction time can improve learning outcomes. Educators know that students who participate in extended learning opportunities get better grades, attend school at a higher rate than their peers and show improved behavior.

I am happy to report that three of Baltimore's public schools are already participating in a demonstration project in extended learning through the Family League of Baltimore.

The Family League is working with BCPS at Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School, Hilton Elementary School and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School using ExpandED, an extended learning model developed by the After-School Corporation.

All three schools work with community-based partners to expand the school day so that students receive more than two additional hours of daily instruction each. With the extra time, students have access to resources that allow them to improve their literacy and math skills and participate in activities like art, physics experiments and robotics that would not otherwise be available to them during a standard school day.

The ExpandED model is one of many initiatives in the Family League's Community and School Engagement Strategy at 43 schools this year. Through this strategy, thousands of Baltimore students are accessing extended learning and skill-building opportunities beyond the typical school day.

The Family League's investment in community schools is one way we are trying to moving the needle on student achievement. We hope that through our work we can not only bring about real change but also emphasize how important it is that we insure our children have every opportunity to succeed.

Jonathon Rondeau, Baltimore

The writer is president & CEO of the Family League of Baltimore.

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