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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|is that they don't have a pesky teachers-union contract to deal with in establishing their hours of operation.|
This freedom actually allows them to make students better.
At Rishel Middle School, across the parking lot from KIPP near the corner of Alameda Avenue and Tejon Street, fewer than one in five students were proficient on 2007 state reading tests.
At KIPP, where the poverty rate exceeds that of Rishel, 51 percent of students were reading at grade level.
Similarly, at Kepner Middle School, which is 1.3 miles from West Denver Prep, fewer than one in four students were proficient readers.
At West Denver Prep, 49 percent of students were proficient
That sure SOUNDS like remarkable progress from right in the belly of the Big Education Beast. When a charter school is outperfoming its neighboring traditional public school by better than 2 to 1, you better sit up and take notice.
So, how do they do it?
A Rocky Mountain News analysis shows the average school day for KIPP students is two hours and 23 minutes longer than their middle school peers in traditional Denver Public Schools.
Add Saturday school - 16 days in 2007-08 - and the required summer classes - up to 18 days in June - and the KIPP school year exceeds that of DPS by more than 600 hours.
That sort of schedule requires an enormous investment on the part of the school, in terms of teacher hours, administrator hours and classroom resources to help make the time the most productive it can be.
This isn't re-inventing the wheel; on the contrary, it seems to simply be making up for lost time.
Imagine how great those students could be if they didn't arrive at these charter schools two- to three-years behind grade level.
The point here is simple: when students are in an environment of their own (or their parents' choosing) and given all the resources to be successful (especially time and instruction) they can exceed the fate that was expected of them.
Why aren't these resources available to the regular schools? They probably are, actually--but union teachers would never accept working more than 40 or 50 hours a week in the classroom. And to be fair, between grading papers and school activities and whatnot, most teachers spend WAY more than 40 hours a week working--it's just that a lot of that is not with students in front of them.
This is one of the few areas in which I think spending more money on education could make a difference: if you had the resources to extend the instructional day by even one hour, it would be worth doing in terms of student achievement.
So here's a model that we know makes a difference--GO DO IT!