How long is the school day?

gcotter's picture

Does anyone know how many hours a day children are supposed to be in school?  There are three schools quite close to me and it appears that the students get out of class quite early.  I'm wondering whether one reason our students do poorly is that they simply aren't in class long enough each day.

Anyone out there know the number of hours and the number of class sessions per day in SF schools?


Claudia's picture

How long is the school day?

In my limited understanding, while the State sets the number of instructional days, the length of the day is determined locally.  In SF, most schools have 7 periods (about 40-45 minutes each).  Note that schools' schedule are often determined by the company that provides transportation for students.  I know that this is hard to believe, but after working with the schools for 15 years, this is what I have heard again and again.

gcotter's picture

Makes Sense - Thank you

Thanks, Claudia!  So, the reason I see children leaving school early in the afternoon is because of the school bus schedule?  How very odd that sounds.  It makes sense from a business perspective - If a company only has enough buses to service 5 schools, and there are 20 schools to service, then there has to be staggered scheduling.  And it wouldn't be cost effective to have sufficient buses to service all schools at once because too much capital would be tied up for buses, drivers, parking lots, etc.

Well, at least I now know why I see school age children out and about from 1:30 on every afternoon.  I live within 2 blocks of three schools so there are lots of children walking by my house every day.

I really think our children need more education, especially English - not (just) ESL but English grammar, syntax, reading comprehension, vocabulary building, etc.  They need language skills that will enable them to perform better in the higher grades and to get into college or the job market.  It would be really nice if the school day could be longer.  Maybe 8 or 9 school periods so that some subjects could be broken into 2 sessions - for example, English, creative writing and reading comprehension; or, American history, world history, American civics, and current events.  Even the Arts, Crafts and Sports could benefit so that students could sign up for two periods of art, music, shop, exercise, team sports, gymnastics, etc.

It would be great to see if some creative minds could figure a way to extend the school day by at least a couple hours.

One example might be to use Muni buses as supplemental school buses.  Since the afternoon commuter rush starts around 4:00, maybe Muni buses could be used along side school buses between 3:00 and 4:00.  Or, maybe there are other charter service buses that could be hired as school buses for early morning or late afternoon use.  Of course if there were a way that students could attend one of the schools closest to their homes, maybe this wouldn't be a problem in the first place.  Sigh.

I suppose there would be a ton of regulations, contracts, unions, politics that would come up as obstacles, but maybe if enough people who can think outside the box got involved we could have a longer school day, give the children a better education, and still provide bus service.

Ideas anyone?

Kate Maeder's picture

It's not enough

gcotter: "It would be great to see if some creative minds could figure a way to extend the school day by at least a couple hours."

I totally agree.

Even though the state mandates a certain number of hours, I believe it's not enough. 

Studies show that kids do better when they're in the classroom longer.
There's a great program called "Citizen Schools," where volunteers teach a course
once a week to middle school students - while the teachers grade papers or work on
lesson plans. It's a great way to bring in an outside perspective to the classroom
and to add hours to class time.

Check it out:

gcotter's picture

Thank you - wonderful link

Claudia - Thank you for the link.  I'm going to forward it to a few of my friends who might be interested in volunteering.  What a great program!

There have been any number of studies that show that longer school days improve student performance.  Because so many families have two working parents and, in some cases, long commutes to work, children have too much after school unsupervised time to get into trouble.  While there are after school programs available, I opine that the children would be better off spending an extra hour or two in school each day.  

Numerous studies show that having a long summer vacation means that the first month or two of the new school year are devoted to bringing the students back to where they were at the end of the last year.  Our extended summer breaks are a hold over from an agrarian society where children were needed on farms in the summer to harvest crops - hardly the case today.  Our students would be far better off educationally if we had a trimester or quarterly system with short - 2 or 3 weeks - breaks 3 or 4 times a year. 

In this link:  there is a chart of number of federally required school days by country for 16 nations.  Of these, the United States ranked as dead last with the US government mandating 180 days of school per year.  Japan was at the top with 243 days per years.  That means that Japanese students spend an additional 12 weeks in school every year.  South Korea has 220; Luxembourg 216; Scotland 200; Hungary 192; Nigeria 190;

I Googled:  Education School Day Length   and had so many hits that I added 2010  to see just the recent stories.  There is plenty to support long such days and more of them.

Thanks again for the link

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