Thursday, October 13, 2011

Report Highlights the Importance of Expanded Learning Time

The National Center for Time and Learning has released “Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful, Expanded-Time Schools.” In the midst of the education reform debate, this report illustrates how expanding the school day can be a powerful strategy in reducing the achievement gap, particularly for low-performing, high-poverty schools. The report is based on six years of research with schools in the process of developing and implementing expanded school days and specifically highlights the positive outcomes that 30 schools across the nation have achieved.

The report suggests that expanding the school day would provide critical enrichment opportunities for both teachers and students, as well as opportunities for schools to develop a general culture of high expectations and success for students and families in the community. Additional time, for example, may enable teachers to address the individual needs of each student, analyze student data, collaborate with colleagues to receive feedback and improve instructional practices, and expand curricula to include more social arts and social studies instead of the routinely tested subjects of English and Math.
As seen in the image below, there are four “interlocking gears” of successful expanded learning time:

To drive these gears into motion, the report suggests key practices and strategies that have guided expanded-time initiatives within current schools and can be implemented in schools nationwide. These practices are divided into three categories: 1) Optimizing time for student learning, 2) Helping students thrive in school and beyond, and 3) Dedicating time to improve teacher effectiveness.
In response to this report, the Center for American Progress has highlighted how schools can utilize the recently-announced No Child Left Behind (NCLB)/Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waivers to implement expanded learning time initiatives. States choosing to apply for these waivers must develop comprehensive plans that address college and career readiness standards, accountability systems and teacher/principal evaluation effectiveness. As states develop accountability standards, they must utilize “turnaround principles,” which includes implementing expanded learning time, to address the needs of the lowest performing schools. Specifically, states that receive a waiver will be allowed to direct funds from the 21st Century Community Learning Center program – an after-school initiative – to actual school-day expansion.
As of October 12th, 39 states - including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico - have submitted the "intent to apply" for these waivers. The "intent to apply" is non-binding and states that have not yet submitted this intent are still eligible to apply by the November and February deadlines. For more information, please click here.

For more information about the NCLB/ESEA waivers:

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