WE RECOMMEND that schools provide additional academic time by reclaiming the school day for academic instruction.
The Commission is convinced that if American students are to meet world- class standards all children will need more academic time. Reclaiming the academic day means providing at least 5.5 hours of core academic instructional time daily. That time should be devoted exclusively to the common core of subjects identified in Recommendation I.
The Commission's analysis of how time is currently used in American schools makes one thing clear: even within the confines of a 180-day school year, reclaiming the academic day should, alone, nearly double the amount of instructional time in core curriculum areas. For some students, reclaiming the academic day will provide all the additional time they need to meet new standards. For most others, however, more academic time will be required.
Establishing an academic day means, in essence, that the existing school day be devoted almost exclusively to core academic instruction. What this means is obvious: many worthwhile student programs-athletics, clubs, and other activities-will have to be sacrificed unless the school day is lengthened. We do not believe they should be sacrificed, or that communities will agree to do without them. At the same time, we cannot agree to sacrificing the academic core of the school to other activities. Instead, all student activities should be offered during a longer school day.
Compensatory programs and special efforts for the gifted and talented can be provided during the longer school day. Language instruction for non-native English speakers should be provided in this longer day. Students who want to accelerate their studies, perhaps spending only three years in high school, can also use this time.
Fix The Design Flaw: Use Time in New and Better Ways. Keep Schools Open Longer to Meet the Needs of Children and Communities.