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Giving Students the Time They Need

"How to Improve Urban High Schools at Scale," an online Commentary, offers interesting insights into what it takes to lift performance in troubled schools. Among its points—the ability to be flexible about learning time in order to meet the needs of students who are struggling. David Linzey, the former chief academic officer of the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, in Los Angeles, writes:

"Our mentality was to produce success no matter how long it took. If students did not learn and weren't able to demonstrate achievement within the school day, we offered them after-school tutoring. Saturday "academic-achievement academies" were also provided. Most of the students attended school longer in the day and week, and had a longer school year. That was the only way to effectively close the huge achievement gap between these students and their more advantaged peers that existed when they entered high school."

Obviously, this is a tough thing to do. Not every teacher—or student—is up to this or for this. But it does offer a concrete example of what a difference after-school time well-spent can make. Linzey's piece resonated with me even more strongly after I read about the rising percentage of high-poverty schools.

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