01/23/2013 12:39 EST | Updated 03/25/2013 05:12 EDT

Crack open the books; Saskatchewan sets minimum class time for all students

REGINA - Some primary and secondary school students in Saskatchewan will be spending more time in class.

Education Minister Russ Marchuk said Wednesday that students across the province must have at least 950 hours of class time.

The new rule comes after the provincial auditor raised concerns that Saskatchewan school divisions don't offer a minimum amount of instructional time.

There was a difference of about 30 hours between schools divisions.

He said the changes will help ensure all students get more consistent instructional hours.

Marchuk said the new minimum will kick in this fall and bring Saskatchewan in line with other western provinces.

He said the additional hours should not affect professional development days for teachers.

"Together we'll develop a calendar that incorporates professional development time for teachers, as well as maintaining the 950 hours of instructional time," Marchuk said.

Janet Foord, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, said the move puts the province in the same ballpark as Alberta.

"We are still a little below other jurisdictions like Alberta. As far as student achievement, some of those provinces are doing better than we are," Foord said.

"The correlation is, hopefully, that with the added hours, as long as they're quality hours, that we'll be able to improve student achievement."