After three years, a school district is seeing longer school days spark a rise in test scores.

Soft SkillsIn Syracuse, New York, the school day was lengthened by 70 minutes three years ago.  This past year has seen a spike in test scores, and administrators and teachers attribute it to more instructional time and a longer school day.

During the extra hour and ten minutes, students at Bellevue Elementary School learn to cook, build robots, or play in a bucket band.  They are learning math and language skills as they do these activities.

“It’s honestly one of the most exciting times for the students. But the teachers love it, too, because they are able to offer something that they are interested in,” said Bellevue principal Sarah Cupelli.

The longer school days began as part of the Innovation Zone, or iZone, that the district created in seven low performing schools. These were labeled “priority schools” because they scored in the lowest 5 percent of New York state tests. They received grants to add 50 to 100 minutes to the school day.

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