School for thousands of public school students is about to get quite a bit longer. Five states will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in the test.

The whole goal is to increase student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level. The first question is how to pay for the extra time in class. There is a mix of grants, federal, state and district funds that will cover the costs of expanded learning time. The experts say this will give students access to a more well-rounded curriculum and individualized help for students who fall behind and need that extra help. Educators across the U.S. have been working to identify the best ways to strengthen a public education system. This is just one of many ways that are being explored to help. Student testing, teacher evaluations, charter schools and voucher programs join longer school days on the list of reforms that have been put forward with different degrees of success.