Blog: The Educated Reporter

Boston Gambles on Longer School Day

The Boston skyline. (Flickr/Wally Gobetz/Creative Commons)

Over at EWA Radio, my colleague Mikhail Zinshteyn and I talked with Boston Globe education reporter Jamie Vaznis about a plan to expand learning time in that city’s elementary and middle schools. The Globe did its own analysis of a pilot program to add time to the academic calendar, and found mixed results.

One issue that came up in our conversation with Jamie was the cost of the initiative — about $12 million annually in extra teacher pay to add 40 minutes to each of the 180 school days on the calendar. That figure jumped out at me: it’s close to what experts have estimated to be the cost estimated a few years ago of reducing class sizes by one student in one grade level in Nevada’s Clark County School District. 

While expanded learning time and class-size reduction are hardly interchangeable initiatives, it’s interesting to consider what dollars intended for school improvement can actually buy. 

For more on expanded learning time, check out our Topics Page on this important issue. And I waded into the class-size debate in this blog post about whether teacher quality trumps having fewer students.