By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Two years ago, Florida required 100 of its lowest-performing elementary schools to add an extra hour each day to use the time for reading instruction, and the program has produced good results.

Seventy-three of the 100 schools increased the percentage of students reading at grade level. Sixty-one raised the median level of fourth-grade students who have been reading below level, and 62 raised the median level of fifth-graders who have been reading below level as well.

Thirty schools that were required to participate last year voted to keep the program although they had gotten off the watch list. Schools shaped their own instructional plans; however, teachers and principals all participated in training. In Palm Beach County, although teachers were paid for the extra hour, they had the right to transfer if they did not want to extend their day.

A reward for teachers: After the State tests last spring, child after child reported that the test was easier than the time before. Read more details in Education Week.

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