Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Effect of Longer School Days in ExpandED Schools

The After School Corporation (TASC) has released an initial evaluation of its ExpandED Schools initiative, a network of 11 elementary and middle schools in New York City, Baltimore, and New Orleans. The demonstration was launched in 2011 to assess the impact of extending the school day by three hours at these schools with the help of youth-serving community organization partners. Recognizing the importance of involving community partners to address the comprehensive needs of students, ExpandED schools work with community organizations to redesign the school day in order to provide disadvantaged students with educational and cultural opportunities to support their academic and personal development and overcome the challenges of poverty.

Drawing from research indicating that extended learning time is an important factor in better student outcomes, ExpandED Schools use four main elements while designing longer school days:
  • Extended time for a balanced curriculum;
  • Partnerships between the school and community;
  • Engaging teaching practices; and
  • Sustainable cost models.

Key findings from the first year of a three year evaluation include:
  • Students in ExpandED Schools increased their math proficiency at a greater rate than citywide gains in all three cities;
  • School attendance rates improved in ExpandED Schools, while chronic absenteeism dropped;
  • Students, teachers, and parents gave higher rankings to ExpandED Schools than other community schools on communication, safety, academic expectations, and student engagement; 
  • ExpandED Schools students have access to a broadened curriculum that includes physical education, art, music, technology, dance, health, foreign language, drama, and tutoring;
  • Student achievement data is utilized effectively by ExpandED Schools but is not always shared with partners in a timely manner;
  • Multiple funding streams are used by ExpandED Schools in order to provide and sustain services; and
  • ExpandED Schools vary on how well they foster community and family engagement.

The report outlined several takeaways for communities interested in increasing student achievement by expanding learning time. For example, funding for ExpandED Schools cannot rely on school funds alone. PS 186, an elementary school in Brooklyn, raised $800,000 for the 2012-2013 school year by combining funds from local taxes, federal education grants, Title I and Title III money, AmeriCorps funds, and private funds raised by TASC. Accessing these multiple funding streams is necessary in order to provide high-quality services, but can put a burden on school administrators who need to navigate complex and often time-sensitive, competitive grant applications.

For more information on how to evaluate expanded learning programs, please click here.

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