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National Educator Survey Reveals Challenges to Reimagining the Use of Time in Schools

Educators view school schedules as a powerful lever to address equity gaps, but lack school and community support for change

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Unlocking Time, an impact project produced by Abl, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today published the results of a national survey which examines challenges — and opportunities — faced by schools when making changes to the traditional school day.

(PRNewsfoto/Unlocking Time)

"Changes to traditional structures of time in school remain underutilized as a strategy for meeting the evolving needs of our students," said John Murray, principal of Medway High School in Medway, MA. "If education leaders are serious about improving equitable outcomes, time — and its impact on instruction and learning — must be recognized as an innovative and strategic lever for success."

The report, based on a survey of teachers and leaders in more than 4,000 U.S. schools found that while school and district leaders view changes to bell schedules, and traditional time structures as a lever for change, they often lack community support, and adequate resources, to rethink and implement changes.

  • Schools' use of time has remained largely unchanged despite vast innovations in education and research driving leaders' interests in tailored learning environments. 99% of schools are still on a traditional summers off schedule, 63% still follow the same 5-8 period bell schedule, and 74% create schedules with classes lasting less than an hour.
  • Teachers don't feel equipped by schools and leaders to best serve their students due to a lack of collaboration time with their peers. The majority of teachers report spending 5 hours or less collaborating with other teachers each week.
  • School master schedules fail to reflect intentional decisions to offer equitable access to rigorous courses. Satisfying parents' requests and ensuring balanced class sizes stood out as top priorities from school leaders who were surveyed when creating student schedules.

Both the research and report were led by Unlocking Time, a coalition of educators, policy leaders, and researchers who view time as a critical lever for school improvement. The coalition is facilitated by Abl, which works with schools and districts to translate their values, and mission, into practice through the master schedule.

"Given the strong traditions in place, schools and districts often overlook the restructuring of time as a strategy for improving outcomes," said Adam Pisoni, founder and CEO of Abl. "What we've learned at Abl, through both research and practice, is that time can serve as an innovative, data-driven tool to closing gaps in access and opportunities that better support both students and the educators serving them."

This report, and a suite of additional resources and tools created by Unlocking Time, are available for free to benefit the K12 community at UnlockingTime.org.

About Unlocking Time
Unlocking Time is an impact project produced by Abl that helps K12 schools adopt time strategies that fuel student-centered learning. Through support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Unlocking Time website serves as a hub for everything related to time in schools, including a visual encyclopedia of bell schedules, practical time strategies for schools to try, and a library of supporting tools and resources. The site features a free survey tool to help school leaders understand what their staff thinks about their calendars, bell schedule, academic programming, and staff time. Access free tools and resources at UnlockingTime.org.

About Abl
Abl is an education software and services company that is passionate about equity. Abl takes an operations-first approach, understanding access to courses, student equity, and teacher equity through the lens of the master schedule. Abl works with school district leaders to not only evaluate equitable opportunities, but use the results to take action through the school schedule to create systemic change. Learn more at Ablschools.com.

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SOURCE Unlocking Time