Colorado Schools Pilot Longer Day

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1min 35sec

The school day and school year are about to get longer for 5,000 Colorado students. The state is taking part in a five-state pilot program to extend the school year by an extra 300 hours.

Here is a transcript of CPR education reporter Jenny Brundin's report.

Reporter Jenny Brundin: Nine schools in Denver, Jefferson, Boulder and Adams counties will participate in the pilot. They'll share in a $900,000 grant from the nonprofit National Center on Time and Learning to offset the cost of adding instructional time. Advocates for longer days call it a social justice issue, one that gives needy students access to support that other students get outside class. Helayne Jones is the CEO of the Colorado Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit that will provide technical support to the pilot schools.

Helayne Jones: It’s time to stop thinking about the school system the way it used to be and start moving towards the way it needs to be if we’re going to reach and dramatically personalize the learning experience for every student.

Reporter: Ami Prichard, President of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, says longer days can work if teachers play a major role in designing the new systems.

Ami Prichard: When teachers have the ability to develop these programs and work collaboratively with the district or with other teachers to develop what they see as helpful in their classroom, I think teachers are very excited about the possibilities.

Reporter: But many medical research studies caution against early school start times for teenagers because their brains and bodies are still in sleep mode. Jane Urschel with the Colorado Association of School Boards agrees schools need more instructional time, but she says piloting the idea is crucial before expanding it.

Jane Urschel: I think we have to look at how we are using time now, and what that means for how we would use more time, let alone, how we would pay for it.

Reporter: The pilot schools will now start figuring out how to get students extra time with their teachers.

[Photo: CPR/JBrundin]