Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Should Extended Day Education Programs Be Implemented State-Wide?

This past Monday Governor Deval Patrick visited the Matthew J. Kuss Middle School here in Fall River.

The Kuss school is one of the schools that has been labeled "chronically underperforming" by the Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE). One of the initiatives that Kuss has undertaken to improve MCAS scores and the quality of education is to implement an 'extended day program'.

It's an interesting program, one that offers more academic time for teachers to teach and students to learn but also one that offers elective courses that allow children to learn and experience things than can truly motivate and inspire them.

The children at Kuss stay roughly an extra 2 hours a day, 4 days a week. The feedback I've gotten has been all positive.

The Governor came to Kuss to learn firsthand about how well this program was working and there is real interest in expanding this program, perhaps, eventually, to the whole state.

Here is where I have some concern.

If this program is really making a difference at Kuss school, if educational quality is really improving, then I think we need to keep these programs in the schools and school systems that need the most improvement. How can a struggling school system ever get ahead if the minute a program shows potential and promise it's just adopted by school systems that don't face the challenges and hurdles of an troubled school district?


Dr. Momentum said...

I'm not clear on what is at the root of your concern: the allocation of the resources or the relative performance of the schools.

Hypothetically, lets say there were enough resources to implement this in all schools. Wouldn't we be doing a disservice if we did not implement this everywhere? If this rising tide lifted all boats, would that be a bad thing?

If, on the other hand, we need a redistribution of educational wealth because the underperforming schools are unacceptable (which I believe is the case) then I can see a case for allocating scarce resources where they are most needed.

One point you did not mention is that this may be a technique that works best in a struggling school. The benefits may not be worth the cost in a school with better test scores (perhaps a more affluent school).

I don't see a problem with a tide that raises all the schools, but questions of resources and efficacy in other schools would be my main concerns.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dr. Momentum.

If this program is working then of course, it should be implemented in the struggling schools before it goes state-wide. Going statewide would deplete resources as a whole that could rather focus in on these struggling schools.

However, given we no longer live in an agrarian society and sitting down for lengthy periods of time is a horrible way of learning, I think that an extended day would benefit plenty of schools. There's a lot that students can learn outside the classroom environment as well.

Anonymous said...

To continue, as someone who is part of the 8% of Fall River residents with a college degree, I must say that our American education system is a waste.

Parabolas, Ellipses, and the Quadratic Formula have served no use to me in life thus far. I guess taking Calculus classes in high school would have been helpful if I had pursued a career in Engineering and such, but that was never my intention.

For someone who was interested in Current events and the political process, the high school curriculum was sorely lacking. I do not regret enrolling in Advanced and AP Science courses, but they were really useless to me.

I guess it's a bit comforting to know that if for some reason, these topics did arise that I could relearn them quickly. However, I would have much enjoyed assignments like write about the last City Council or School Committee meetings, interview a City employee about their job, take a tour of the Herald News, sit in during a trial for a day...

That's interactive learning and it can't be done solely in a classroom.

Lefty said...

Sorry to respond to this so late.

I agree with everything you said Dr. M.

I just think we need to get the underperforming schools up to expectations before raising the bar again, and I don't see how we can do that unless we devote additional resources to these struggling schools.