Gov. Chris Christie says his proposal to extend the length of the school day and the school year will not be across-the-board.  It would be restricted to New Jersey's worst-performing districts.

Christie's budget plan calls for spending $5 million on a pilot program in the new fiscal year that begins in July.  New Jersey school districts would have to apply for grants to participate in examining the effectiveness of a longer school calendar.

Acting Education Commissioner David Hespe says it's one of the more exciting initiatives he's seen in a long time.

"Oftentimes education is about time, not about outcomes and results, and what the governor is saying is that has to change," Hespe told lawmakers. "The outcome has to be fixed, and the time needs to be variable in terms of the outcome of an individual student."

Hespe says the state will evaluate and endorse ideas from local educators on how to personalize learning during the extended classroom time.  

"We're going to support ideas not coming from us down. We're going to support ideas coming from educators in the schools up," he said.

He says research shows that can have a significant impact.