Baltimore Officials Consider Longer School Week

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A drop in test scores has Baltimore school leaders scrambling to stop the slide.  Now they’re considering a longer school week.  As Gigi Barnett explains, it’s drawing mixed reactions from parents.

After three years of back-to-back gains, Baltimore school leaders saw an across the board dip in test scores this year.  Reading results dropped by a little more than three percentage points.  Math scores fell even more at nearly five percentage points.

Now the question is how to get back on track.  The answer may be Saturday school.

“We see it as a model that works in some of our schools and the question is, can we link it to some of our grades,” said City Schools CEO Dr. Andres Alonso.

Dr. Alonso wants a longer school week to begin for students in the fifth and eighth grades.  He says that’s just before students go off to middle and high school and it’s where school leaders see the biggest drop off.

“Just extend the school year.  The weekend is family time, plain and simple.  Extend the school year and add more days,” said parent Tom Sasada.

But other parents say more time is a good solution.

“Absolutely.  My children are going to summer school next week, so I would have no problem with them going on Saturday,” said Shanti Dixon-Gramby.

Whether they’re for Saturday school or not, parents want to know how school leaders will pay for it.  Dr. Alonso says that’s a detail he’s working on.

One of Baltimore’s charter schools, Kipp Ujima Village, has a longer school week.  It is one of the highest-performing schools in the state.

More from Gigi Barnett
  • Justin Davis

    I do not want my child to attend school on Saturday! That is our family time! If the city does this I will pull my child from the Charter School that he is in, and pay for a private education. That was our plan in the first place. We are doing as much as we can to support our Charter School, and want to see it perform well. I have been very impressed with the Patterson Park Charter School this far. It was a nice surprise to find a school like that one in Baltimore City. I feel students that are not performing where they need to be should get help, but not on another students family time.

  • keith

    earlier and earlier the government is forcing our chiuldren to asimulate to an adult lifestyle at a rapid fire pace….. it’s not fair to the children or thier families. allow parents and children alike to enjoy the childhood they have been given by God and STOP robbing them of those precious memories and years!!!!

    • Jack Kerouac

      We’re behind the rest of the world, Keith. The US is entirely outmoded in science and math (and from your post, apparently English). Children in most countries go to school five days a week, year-round, but with periodic breaks. Our children lose what they learn between school years.

      Why can’t they enjoy the brains God gave them? What memories would we be robbing them of? Playing video games and getting into trouble in August when mom and dad are at work?


    6 days a week? You got to be kidding!

  • TheTruth

    Instead of making them sit there even longer how about get better teachers! Baltimore City schools are terrible! Alonso is trying to make the kids even more bored than ever. And when they don’t behave the teachers just sit there. Get some better teachers.

    • Lily

      How about getting better PARENTS!!! If children can’t read or do math by the fifth-grade, that is the parents’ fault! Parents are a child’s first teacher. When you have households without books and adults who treat reading as if it is a rare disease, how the hell do you expect children to show an appreciation for it?!

      • R. Smith

        It is a give take relationship between Parents, Teachers, and Students. One thing that schools don’t realize is that there are students that do need extra help or a different method of learning the material. Teachers need to learn the different way a person learns (you know there are 3 of them.) Personally, I can learn material in any of the 3 ways, but depending on the material there is 1 way that I will learn it best. Not everyone are auditory or visual learners. More and more people learn best when it is hands on and engaging. Adding more hours or another day to the school week ain’t going to make a big enough difference.

      • Lois

        Lily , I totally agree with you.about the Parents roll in their child’s education. Also putting in more hours with the kids won’t make up for bad teaching, The teachers have to use what time they do have ,more effecently.

    • MzB

      Amen…it’s easy as an adult to point out how disrespectful young people are these days, but as a mother of four teenagers I have spent much time in the public schools with them as witness first hand the total lack of respect for the children or their education. Children learn by example and they are spending 6-7 hrs per day with these people! I have one special needs child and it took yanking him from the public school setting to get him a proper education… I fought tooth and nail to have baltimore country schools afford him what he is entitled! We should not have to be at war with the schools to educate! Better teachers, better schools, not longer days, longer school years and sure as hell not saturday school!

      • Tricia

        I agree with you. My son has special needs too and I had to fight for everything. I am all for an extended school year because I have seen the positive effects it has on my oldest son. I am not for extended school weeks. Our children will burn out. And just maybe if the teachers were given the money for resources they would be able to do their jobs properly.

  • Darrius

    Well even though I dont agree either. They only said fifth and eighth graders. i dont agree with four weekends a month but 2 isnt that bad if you wanna learn. Its not the teachers either its the kids that dont wanna learn interupting the kids that wanna learn. You can always use that boost before going to middle or high school.

  • Wheres common sense when you need it

    The government can’t afford to fund the school system for 5 days a week let alone 6. What the H*LL! Untill the attitude of the parents and students improves in Baltimore City, all the best teachers in the world won’t help. Education starts at home, period. The reason text scores are where they are is because, like everywhere else in America, it is always everyone elses fault. Blame the teachers, blame race, blame, blame, blame. It is not schools or teachers responsibility to raise children, it is the PARENTS! Untill being a responsible family becomes the priority, your just throwing away good tax money.

    • April Dobrzykowski

      Well said… I totally agree with you!

  • J Gordon

    I guess Jewish kid’s are going to be expected to violate their Sabbath beliefs in order to get an “education” from a system that values quantity over quality.

    • Tricia

      Very good point, other religions effected would be the seven day adventist and jehovah witnesses.

  • Bill

    You cannot fix stupid? Lets get some real leadershyp in Maryland, The democrats have ruined Maryland and the Country. Lets impeach them all and get some new blood in there (Government). O Malley has a band of idiots doing his misjustice to our chidren, Thank God for county private schools. Alonso most go, his watch has failed twice and they want more time to waste more money; sounds like O Bama govt. God Bless The Children!

    • Bella

      Please learn how to spell and use correct punctuation BEFORE you type!

  • citizen

    you will have an increase instead of an decrease in drop are pushing them 2 hard.come on already have pre-k children going all day.what more do you want from them.

    • Sarah

      They’re talking about 4th and 8th graders going an extra day… at that age it’s illegal to not be in school, and it’s pretty much up to the parents still so there better not be drop outs in middle and elementary school

  • TJN72

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper to let the fake test scores stand?

  • outkasts

    Remember that baltimore had more teen parents than most cities in the nation.
    Older and more educated parents give their children a head start.Most of them moved out of baltimore?

    • MzB

      Excuse me outkasts… I work as a tech in Labor and Delivery right here in Baltimore so while I respect that you are quite right about the number of teen moms increasing (every where) Let me be one to argue that I had a baby at 16 to no fault of my parents giving me every alternative to avoid such a thing. I have since had 3 more when I was barely out of high school yet still graduated, still went to college, still work for a living and still support my kids now and always with out your tax dollars paying my bills. My children are well education, thanks to me that is not our public school system! Be judge more carefully, even us Teen Moms… have a future for ourselves and children should we choose to make one!

      • MzB

        *Please* judge more carefully…. maybe I am not so educated today *sigh* :-)

  • Bill

    Bella it is not a term paper you self righteous moron.I bet your over weight and have no real friends but the ice cream man GET A REAL LIFE!!!!

    • R. Smith

      Bill and Bella: This is exactly why there is an issue. You are two grown adults and you are fighting like young children. Not to mention, Bill, that if you improve your spelling and verbal use of English children will pick that up instead of misusing words and grammar. Secondly Bill, what difference does it make if Bella is overweight, has no friends? What do you know about Bella’s life? What right do you have to pass judgement on her?


    The Educational system is nothing but a YOKE on the taxpayers of this great state. All the monies spent and we still have idiots coming out of these FACTORIES that mass graduate students into a worthless society that cannot function properly. I agree that we need better TEACHERS!!!! If a child doesn’t show apptitude for education that individual should be taught a “TRADE” (learn something that will enhance his quality of life and living). If we don’t do something now than the students of today will be the inmates of TOMORROW!!

  • Cathy

    I feel it is the parents fault,When I was younger and in school I did not have cell phones.or computors and my parents did not give me 20.00 and said here go to the mall.When I came home I did my homework,then went out until dinner,I id not have a cell to take to class to look at facebook or text,kids these day do not pay attention like I had to.The parents are to busy these days to pay their kids any mind where they are or what they are doing,as long as they get up for school and go. Are there any teacher parent meetings any more.The teachers can only do so much in class.Just another excuse for more money.


    it is mainly the parents job to start there child learning process, how can you expect someone to teach your child something you never did then balme the system. It is truly time to take it back old school stop being their friend sit down read books do amth problems with etc.

  • K&H

    R. Smith – I agree that there are many different methods to teach a child. In fact, there are more than the “3” you stated. It is a teacher’s job (as I am one), to find the best methods to teach their students based on their preferred learning style. This is the first inventory that I do at the beginning of each year, and for the last 5 years teaching in the city, I have had the highest passing score in my school. I believe that finding out the best way my students learn, and teaching them to their strengths is the reason for my success.

  • Nancy

    That’s just not the answer. Kids need free time just as much as adults do or your gonna have burnout on your hands. There will be bodies in class but not learning minds.

    • Sean Irwin

      WRONG. Look at the research, and compare our children to those in other countries. They go to school year-round and outperform our kids in all subjects.

      We’re way behind the world, people!

      And these kids are happy and healthy (some would argue more so). They’re not depressed and overworked.

  • Man Please

    Most of these comments r crazy. Why wouldn’t u want to try and improve the future of these kids? I blame parents. When I was a kid my mom made me understand the value of education and worked with me while I wasn’t n school. Family time can also include a book people. It sucks that u guys aren’t thinking about actual grades and what these kids r learning. Dueces. Lol

    • Baltimore HAS to do better

      I totally agree with you! I was an honor roll student, labeled gifted, and left Baltimore City Public Schools after 3rd grade to attend a local private school. During the summers (which also included loads of family time) my parents required to do workbooks for multiple subjects based on the upcoming school year’s curriculum. I understood that my education was not a game and I understood that I didn’t have the option not to learn and not to do better. More education can only give children more options to succeed. Why knock an extra day of education?

  • Brooke

    are you crazy??? how about more interesting information with students having more say in what they study? how about paying teachers what theyre worth so they actually enjoy teaching?

  • Bryant

    Having a longer school day is not the a nswer within its self. Those schools who perform well and have saturday school also perform well doing the regular school day. We have to deal with the students behavior first I don’t care if you bring in President Obama to teach if the student is not prepared to learn they won’t. Our students must learn how to learn, and chage their attitudes towards man, education and society.

  • Tess

    I do not believe that the younger (Elementary & Middle) school kids going to school on Saturdays, if they do anything with them just make the school day one hour longer so that the teachers don’t have to crush their teachings or omit some stuff all together. Now the High School kids, Maybe – but again that could mess up stuff like jobs that they have, extra curricular sports, etc. Also, our system is pushed to the limit financially already making the teachers take mandatory furlough days and such- what makes them think they can add another day of electricity, water and salaries and survive? Again I say just add one (1) hour to the end of the day to allow more focused time during the day instead of rushing thru it. Parents wouldn’t have to worry as much about daycare costs and such either.

  • graddie

    These kids won’t make the cut. Dr. Alonso is a bozo. Hasn’t fully addressed the cheating scandel on the standardized tests. Could be test scores aren’t going down, but have always been down, if the teachers hadn’t corrected the answers.

    Asians rule, low class dwellers drool.

  • Diane Hutsler

    ok tell i.e.p to get off their lazy ass’s and do something thats what they are there for stop saying kids are one grade behind if you know this you should do something if a parent comes to you and says my child can not read thats when i.e.p should take them right there not wait yes my child can not read i went to i.e.p and they told me they can not help me she has a learning disable i had to go another school to found this out so what wrong with baltimore city schools they dont care

  • An23153

    The BCPPS needs to stop accepting mediocracy and lowering the bar for students and give them a challenging curriculum. Also they need more art and music programs.

  • Tabbykat

    This government is a joke ,saturday school no way.they weekends are when most families have heir special bonding time,when the kids,and parents are home ,we enjoy that.GET BETTER TEACHERS ONES THAT DON”T CHEAT!! Ones that care about students and how they turn out.I’m 28 years old and I still talk to my first grade teacher.She is a great person and always wanted the best for her students.Parents need to be more consistent about their children learning,reading, staying in and worrying about their school work.My how things have changed.

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