The Long and the Short of it

California’s 175-day school year is one of the nation’s shortest. The Preuss School UCSD, with 198 days and 74,669 instructional minutes per year, is a poster child for more and better learning time.

Preuss allots some of that time to art, music, and physical education—activities that are increasingly cut from other schools. Yet studies suggest that these noncore subjects improve students’ educational experience and may lead to greater academic achievement.

Students in high-poverty schools with at least 25 percent more time outperform their peers in schools with less time, according to the Time to Succeed Coalition (TSC), a national advocacy group. The chorus is growing louder, as more than a thousand schools have added hours to help students succeed academically, deliver a well-rounded education, and facilitate teacher collaboration and professional development.

Preuss was ahead of the curve. Located on the UC San Diego campus, Preuss is a charter middle and high school for low-income, highly motivated students. Its graduates are consistently accepted to four-year colleges and universities at a rate of nearly 95 percent, and almost 100 percent go on to some form of higher education. Preuss has been named the nation’s top “miracle high school” by Newsweek magazine, and received the number-one spot in the magazine’s list of “transformative schools” for the third consecutive year in 2013. Preuss was also included in a report on California’s top charter schools released by the University of Southern California’s Center on Educational Governance.