NYC to Try Longer School Day in 20 Middle Schools

NEW YORK (AP) -

School days will get more than two hours longer for 2,000 New York City sixth-graders next fall as the nation’s biggest public school system experiments with having students spend more time in class, officials announced Monday.

The plan, which echoes moves to lengthen school days in other school districts around the country, will involve students in 20 schools yet to be chosen, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.

Pupils will get 2 1/2 extra hours a day of reading tutoring and other educational activities, run by The After-School Corp., a nonprofit group that works on extending school days in cities. The City Council and private foundations are paying for the extra instruction, as part of a $4.6 million effort to improve middle school reading.

A teachers’ contract provision allows for extending school hours if teachers vote to do so, and the city and union also agreed more than a decade ago to add instructional time in some struggling schools. But the new program would mark a major extension of the day.

For now, the project involves a fraction of the city’s 1.1 million public school students, but it aims to assess whether the idea should spread to other schools.

The plan envisions all sixth-graders in a chosen school participating, and then continuing with the extended schedule in seventh and eighth grades.