Requiring students to be in school longer has its advantages and its drawbacks.

The Pros and Cons to Longer School DaysChildren in the U.S. spend, on average, 6.64 hours in school a day for 180 days a year.* Given that U.S. students’ test scores lag behind the scores in other developed nations, the question has to be asked: Should we be devoting more time to K–12 education?

The answer is not as simple as some may think. There are good arguments in favor of and in opposition to longer school days.

The Pros of Longer School Days

More Time for Instruction

The number one reason for lengthening the school day is to provide teachers with more time for instruction. Over the last century, humans have acquired a staggering amount of knowledge and understanding. It makes sense that we now need to spend more time educating children, especially in the STEM fields, where knowledge is advancing rapidly and where job opportunities remain plentiful. If the U.S. is to stay competitive globally, we must produce an educated populace. Extending the school day could be an important step toward securing a strong future.

More In-Tune With the Modern World

The 6.5 hour school day—and the long summer break most schools take—originated at a time when children had to help work family farms and ranches. But keeping this agrarian calendar makes little sense in the information age. If we want to move forward as a nation, we should ensure our children study in a way that complements modern lifestyles and needs.

Easier on Parents

Many schools dismiss students in the midafternoon, hours before most adults leave work. To fill the gap, working parents have to arrange for childcare, enroll their kids in an after-school program, or simply work less. This can cause a lot of headaches and financial stress. A longer school day can help alleviate some of the childcare burdens parents currently face.

The Cons of Longer School Days

No Direct Correlation Between Longer Days and Higher Achievement

While studies have found that longer instruction time can improve achievement, the correlation is not exact and depends on other factors, such as classroom environment, quality of instruction, and student ability. In short, it’s likely that longer school days won’t be an effective way to raise achievement without other factors already being in place. Supporting this notion is the fact that U.S. teachers already spend more time in the classroom than most other developed nations,§ many of which have higher student achievement.

Raises Costs

Keeping students in school longer requires a lot of additional expenditures, including teacher salaries and facility upkeep. It’s possible that changes in teaching strategy and improvements in educational materials could offer a much more efficient way to boost academic achievement.

Limits Time for Other Activities

From sports to music to dance, many children participate in extracurricular activities designed to teach them new skills and enrich their lives. A longer school day could make participating in extracurriculars more difficult. It can also reduce the free time children need.

How a Master’s in Education Can Put You in Position to Improve Education

If you’re a teacher looking for ways to boost student achievement, you should consider enrolling in a graduate program for teachers. In particular, a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree program can help you gain critical thinking and analytical skills that can aid you in the evaluation and determination of issues, such as longer school days. As part of an EdD degree program, you’ll apply solutions to real-world problems, examine diverse perspectives, and learn how to effectively communicate your ideas to different stakeholders.

Online education has opened up new opportunities for working adults like you. With a campus-based Doctor of Education program, you would have to drive to class and attended courses at specific, often inconvenient times. But, when you choose to earn an EdD degree online, you can complete your coursework right from home. Plus, online Doctor of Education programs offer flexible scheduling that lets you choose when in the day you want to attend class.

Thanks to online learning, earning a doctoral degree in education has never been so convenient. Which means it’s never been so possible to enhance your ability to improve student learning.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


*The National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, U.S. Department of Education on the internet at https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/sass0708_035_s1s.asp.

†D. DeSilver, Pew Research Center, U.S. Students’ Academic Achievement Still Lags That of Their Peers in Many Other Countries, on the internet at www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/15/u-s-students-internationally-math-science.

‡S. Rivkin, et. al., Instruction Time, Classroom Quality, and Academic Achievement, The National Bureau of Economic Research, on the internet at www.nber.org/papers/w19464?utm_campaign=ntw&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ntw.

§T. Walker, Global Study: U.S. Educators Spend More Hours Teaching but Wide Pay Gap Remains, neaToday, on the internet at http://neatoday.org/2015/12/04/global-study-u-s-educators-spend-hours-teaching-wide-pay-gap-remains.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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