New York State School Boards Association

Districts to tally instructional time in terms of hours, not days

by Cathy Woodruff

On Board Online • April 23, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Under a change approved by the state Board of Regents, schools will be counting instructional time in hours, not days, in the 2018-19 school year.

The change will give districts more flexibility for delivering the required amount of instruction, still within a minimum of 180 school session days. For instance, a district could schedule a half-day of instruction to make up time lost to an early dismissal or snow day.

Failure to deliver the required amount of instruction can result in a loss of state aid.

Since the current daily minimum is 5.5 instructional hours for students in grades 7-12, the new aggregate minimum will be 990 hours (5.5 hours x 180) for the school year. For grades K-6, where the daily minimum is 5 hours, the aggregate requirement will be 900 hours. For half-day kindergarten, which requires 2.5 hours per day, the school-year minimum will be 450 hours.

New York's rules have never recognized lunch, recess or the time students spend moving between classes as instructional time, according to state education officials.

Amid questions about whether all districts adhere to those rules, the Regents directed Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to "work with individual school districts to address specific concerns as they transition to implement the regulation."

The amendment to state regulations is scheduled for final adoption by the Regents in June, following a 30-day comment period.

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