Don’t Extend the School Day at Nock Middle School

Why in the world would they want to extend the school day at Nock Middle School?

Alyson Aiello writes in second paragraph of “Nock looks at longer days” in the Newburyport Current (November 21st), “The idea (extra hour of school) came about based on last spring’s MCAS results, which fell short of expectations.” 

Don’t you wonder how schools with results that don’t fall short of expectations, manage to get good scores in just a normal school day?  Wouldn’t a visit to those successful, nearby middle schools make more sense than a trip to the Expanded Learning Time summit on December 5th?  Probably cost a lot less as well.

Administrators can be part of the underachieving problem. 

Some administrators make it difficult for teachers to teach.  If you think that teachers have 180 days of full class periods to teach, you’re dreaming.  Distractions may abound such as disruptive students, uncomfortable classrooms, assemblies, workshops, etc…  I suspect that the fewer the distractions the better the learning possibilities will be. 

Teachers can be part of the underachieving problem.

A few years ago in Chattanooga (TN), the teachers in the underachieving schools were required to reapply for their jobs.  Many teachers weren’t rehired. That’s because if there’s one thing that the state tests do it is to point out the underachieving teachers and departments.  I wonder if all of the Nock Middle School teachers would be rehired if they had to reapply?

Students can be part of the underachieving problem.

Lack of incentive could well be an issue.  What’s in it for a middle school student taking the MCAS?  A high schooler needs to pass to graduate.  Not so with a middle schooler. 

Also in the mix is the fact that some students learn slowly.  It often isn’t for lack of effort, just lack of ability.  However, their scores count and affect a school system’s score.

When a school’s test results fall short of expectations, does it make any sense to have extended learning time for the teachers and students who are NOT falling short?  Of course not, unless it is voluntary, which this doesn’t appear to be. 

On the other hand, why not make the extra hour mandatory for those who underachieved? 

The students would get extra help in the subject areas they need help in and be taught by teachers the administration thinks will do the best job at it.  The selected teachers would be compensated for the extra time.

The underachieving teachers would now have an extra hour to prepare and to attend teaching/subject area workshops.  Should a school system allow an underachieving teacher to be involved in extracurricular activities such as sports?

Expand the learning time only for the students and teachers who, according to the MCAS, need it.  I think it would pay off.

(Sent as a letter-to-the-editor to the Newburyport Current on November 21st)

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