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Participants try out the guided-reading tutoring groups at the expanded-learning conference Thursday.

Six thousand.

That’s how many more learning hours — amassed during parent read-alouds, preschool, piano lessons, summer camp and museum visits — that middle-class kids have racked up by sixth grade than their more impoverished peers, researchers say.

The After-School Corporation details that jarring stat in an infographic and video released today.

The group also hosted a conference this morning (in partnership with the Ford and Robin Hood foundations) where researchers and advocates described one effort to narrow the gap: a pilot program launched this fall in 20 NYC schools that combines intensive literacy tutoring with an extended school day. 

Sixth graders in schools participating in the program, called Middle School ExTRA, stay 2.5 hours after the end of the normal school day. We covered the program’s launch earlier in the school year.

During that time, they eat a hot meal, participate in an extra-curricular activity (dance, drama, debate, gardening, etc) and spend an hour in a guided-reading group with four students and one paid tutor (mostly retirees or recent college graduates).

While the program is not inexpensive — it costs about $2,500 per student for one school year — for every tutored student who goes on to earn a high-school diploma, the benefit (based on higher income and better health) is likely to be at least $200,000 per person, according to the Robin Hood Foundation’s chief program officer, Michael Weinstein.

“This is a monstrously important, powerful intervention,” he said.

(GothamSchools is one of several nonprofit news organizations that received funding from the Ford Foundation to report about extended learning time.)

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— Patrick Wall