It sounds like the sort of thing you say to threaten a kid whose grades are slipping:  If you don’t start focusing in class, you’ll have to go to school on Saturday! But for some middle school students in the Baltimore City school system, Saturday School is about to become a reality — and not as a punishment, but as a time for extra support and (allegedly) “fun.”

City schools CEO Andres Alonso has long been a proponent of Saturday school, which is thought to improve academic performance. (Even a little bit of extra schooling may help — a University of Maryland study showed that even a few snow days make end-of-year math scores go down.) When 2011 math scores declined (61 percent of third through eighth graders passed, compared to 66 percent in 2010), he jumped at the chance to try out this new program. Some schools are starting this week with programs that will be similar to the summer school program the city already runs, in that it’ll focus on hands-on learning, projects, and curriculum support.

The Saturday School initiative will run for 10 weeks, and will give students an extra 20 to 30 hours of math instruction leading up to the annual tests in March. If the program works and scores go up, students may be looking at a lot of busy Saturdays in the future.