Education

State superintendent: Extend the Michigan school year to combat pandemic learning loss

Michigan’s top school official wants state lawmakers to increase the minimum number of days children are required to attend school.

Michael Rice, state superintendent, said that the pandemic has exacerbated students’ learning needs.

“Most students will receive less instruction from March of last year through the end of this school year than in any similar period of their education,” he said, speaking before members of the Michigan house and senate education committees.

“The current minimum number of days 180 was too low before the pandemic. It isn’t close to that of high performing nations. Students and staff need more coming out of the pandemic. The state legislature should raise the minimum number of days to underscore the need for more time.”

Rice did not specify how many days he wants added to the minimum school year. Most other states in the U.S. require 180 school days per year at minimum.

Rice’s comments come as Michigan schools are set to receive a large infusion of federal coronavirus relief money, which could be used to expand students’ learning time. (The Michigan GOP is currently threatening not to allocate the coronavirus relief funds.)

Extending the school year is one way to increase learning time. Rice also echoed national calls for additional out-of-school learning time through tutoring, mentoring, and summer school.

Certain groups especially need more time with teachers, Rice said: early readers, struggling readers, students with disabilities, and students who don’t speak English at home.

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