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Reports from Policy Analysts

Syracuse Sees Gains As a Result of Longer School Day

Submitted On: Sunday, May 7, 2017

Analyst: Kulnis, Derek

May 6, 2017

Analyst: Derek Kulnis

Syracuse schools have seen a rise in test scores after three years of initiating a longer school day.  In 2013, the city created what they dubbed the Innovation Zone, or iZone, in seven of their low-performing schools.

According to Kate Shafsky at, the schools in the iZone were chosen because they scored in the lowest five percent on New York state tests. The schools added from 50 to 100 minutes on to their school day and also focused on individualized student learning, integrating technology into their schools, and better use of data to chart student progress.

Shafsky explains that “the district has spent about $44 million dollars on expanding school days through a combination of grant funding and money from its budget. The money goes toward teacher and community partner salaries, as well as supplies.” 

The length of the school day has been an issue of concern for many educators, with a number of them arguing that longer school days improve student performance. Many charter schools, including schools that are part of the KIPP charter school network, often feature a longer day than many public schools, typically from 7:30 am to 4pm. 

The number of school hours per day is increasing for many students across the country. According to Grace Chen in The Public School Review, “Currently, more than 1,000 schools across the U.S. have extended either school day, academic year or a combination of the two. The impact was felt on nearly a half-million American students. The recent number is a significant increase from 2009, when just over 650 schools had adopted the policy, affecting around 300,000.”

Prarthana Jayaram contends  in that “several studies and literature reviews have been inconclusive regarding the influence of instructional time on traditional markers of student success, like test scores,” and some schools like Success Academy in New York City, decided to shorten their day for the upcoming year.  The school day at these schools is going from eight hours and forty five minutes to eight hours, with dismissal at 3:45 instead of 4:30. School staff cited the hopefully positive affect it would have on both teachers and students, many of whom felt burdened by the longer hours.

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