Instructional Time Policy 101

Instructional time policy is critical to education service delivery because it sets minimum, and sometimes maximum, requirements for learning time. Each state defines instructional time differently, and states have varying requirements in policy. Education Commission of the States (ECS) has released three papers that provide an easy reference for top-level information on instructional time, including trends in policies and legislative examples. 

The Policy Outline provides an overview of instructional time, its importance, fast facts on state policy related to instructional time, and information on instructional time waivers and additional instructional time programs with state examples.

The 50-State Comparison captures the state statutes and administrative codes dictating instructional time in each state and the District of Columbia. It includes requirements for days or hours/minutes per year, hours/minutes per day, and start and/or finish date parameters where they exist in state law. 

Finally, a response to a State Information Request explores ways to use instructional time to support students’ academic learning after interruptions to schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic, with examples from eight states. The Information Request provides examples of states considering extended school days, extended school years, and changes to how time is spent during the school day.