The Teacher Says: Power Hour

Many of us have heard of drug or alcohol interventions.  But in Upper Darby, school officials are doing daily interventions on a subject they think is just as important: Improving academics. 

At 9:30am at Highland Elementary School in Upper Darby it’s time for power hour for all 630 students.

In every corner of the school, teachers and students have a common goal for the next 40 minutes:  To work on students’ academic weaknesses.

For 2nd grader Amahni, the problem area is reading with fluency. So she’s in the power hour group learning phonics.

Principal Patrice Scanlon says she introduced students to the power hour three years ago to address low achievement problems. 

“Our schedule provides for 40 minutes of intensive intervention,” Scanlon said.

These daily “interventions” are in the specific reading and math areas in which the kids need the most help.  The kids are tested, sometimes as much as once a week, to figure out what those target areas are and how much they’ve improved.

Officials say those tests are fun for students, like Murtaza, because they’re focused on meeting personal best goals.

“I couldn’t read that fast and now I have higher grades of reading,” Murtaza said.

The results have been tremendous, officials said.  Test scores are rising, and confidence is blooming.  But if you want to find the biggest boosters of the power hour, look no further than the students themselves.

The program is so successful, even Harrisburg is using it as a model for other schools statewide. 

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