AT ISSUE: Should the Cobb County school year be longer?

This week AJC education reporter Rose French wrote that Cobb education leaders are considering the possibility of lengthening the school year to help the growing number of mainly economically disadvantaged students who need academic attention.

With 110,000 students attending 180 days, Cobb is the second-largest district in Georgia and 24th largest in the nation. Enrollment is projected to increase to 112,362 during the 2019-20 academic year.

Among economically disadvantaged students, nearly four in 10 did not earn a diploma last year compared to the state graduation rate of three in 10 not receiving a diploma last year, French reported.

Also, disadvantaged students comprise 62 percent of the state’s enrollment.

While not discussing longer or more school days during Wednesday’s agenda meeting of the Cobb Board of Education, Cobb’s chief academic officer Mary Elizabeth Davis did make a presentation to the board about a new approach to target those students who need extra academic assistance - no matter their economic background.

With new data technology, the approach uses “personalized instruction” and “accelerated intervention” instead of remedial instruction, “teaching them to run, not walk,” she explained.

At Acworth Elementary School, for example, Davis said teachers use “compact time” to group students by their needs - whether for more help with math or reading.

As a result among five elementary schools in the test phase, going from 69 percent of third graders below reading to 17 percent below reading in one academic year is “amazing,” Cobb School District Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said.

That improvement included no change in the length of hours.

What do you think? Would longer school days and/or more school days be helpful for students to improve? Or is a targeted approach of personalized instruction and accelerated intervention better without lengthening or adding school days? Send your comments to