Time In School Matters
By Monica Van Aken, Ed. D, Head of School
Recent research from the University of Maryland has confirmed yet again that increased instructional time brings more student learning. One study showed that adding just 10 instructional days to a classroom of 3rd grade students had as many learning benefits as repeating a grade, having a better teacher, or reducing class size (see figure 1). Bearing this in mind, at MMS we decided this year to lengthen our school day, start the academic year earlier, and end fully a week later.
By starting our school day at 7:45am and ending at 3:45pm our students have five, eight-hour school days per week, or 40 hours of instruction per week. Most local public schools have seven-hour school days four days a week, and a six-hour day once a week, yielding only 35 hours of school each week. In a full year of 180 instructional days, this translates into 850 additional hours of schooling for our students, or 16 days of school, each year!
Also based on recent research, we revised our vacation schedule from the traditional two-week spring break in March, to two, one-week breaks in February and April. This spacing helps students to maintain the continuity of their learning while also giving them the rest that they need to be fresh for new information.
These changes are designed to optimize our students’ learning and provide all of our families with the absolute best educational value for the investment of time and money you have made with us at MMS.
Sources: Hansen (2008); Marcoote and Hemelt (2008); Jacob and Lefgren (2004); Rivkin et.al (2005)
Cooper, H., Valentine, J. C., Charlton, K., & Melson, A. (2009)