Beyond the Bell

Roadmap

The
promise of a high-quality education
leading to opportunity and
shared prosperity for all children is a deeply held value in
Massachusetts. Despite a record of prominent successes, however, our
Commonwealth has struggled to provide students from all backgrounds the
supports necessary for long-term life success. To confront this
challenge, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and the Rennie
Center for Education Research & Policy are undertaking this
shared research project: the Roadmap for Expanding Opportunity:
Evidence on What Works in Education.

This
series of reports builds on progress initiated with the Education
Reform Act of 1993, addressing critical areas in which progress has
stalled. Ultimately, this project will provide a roadmap for bringing
education reform into the 21st century. Reports will examine promising
evidence-based strategies for supporting all children in achieving
college, career, and life success. In particular, analyses will be
grounded in a recognition that learning must extend beyond traditional
school structures and offerings.

Reports will offer
strategies for adapting a broad evidence base to
local contexts, including cost analyses to assess the level of
resources required to support district and statewide innovation.
Ultimately, these briefs are designed to provide education leaders and
practitioners with building blocks for driving future educational
reforms across the Commonwealth.

For
all endnotes, please see the pdf version
of this paper.

Introduction

The goal of Massachusetts’
nation-leading education system is to
provide an excellent education to youth from all backgrounds. Quality
education for all of our children creates broad opportunity for
success, allows us to provide for future generations, and promotes
civic engagement.

All young people deserve a rich
variety of academic and non-academic
supports. Such supports include personalized academic instruction,
engaging music and art opportunities, and challenging athletic and
other enrichment programs. Unfortunately, communities in which
low-income youth are raised often lack the resources to provide the
wide array of supports that are common in more affluent communities.
Providing these supports to help all youth reach their potential will
help strengthen our workforce and the broader economy.

One way to increase these
opportunities is to provide additional time
for academic and enrichment activities. The benefits of additional time
can be particularly important for children who would otherwise not have
access to these resources.

Statewide discussions
on education reform in the early 1990s included increased learning time
among a range of supports that could promote wider opportunities for
children. The landmark 1991 report, Every
Child a Winner
,
from the
Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education stated:

“The superintendent
… told us that his school offered many
of his students the best few hours of their days. Given the problems
these youngsters face … he placed high priority on extended
day programs for disadvantaged youngsters. Similarly, any progress the
schools were able to make during the academic year could be lost during
the summer. Accordingly we’ve recommended funds for an extra four hours
a day of school time for all elementary and middle school low-income
youngsters and an extra 12 weeks a year of half-time
programming.” 

Based on this recommendation,
the foundation budget (the state’s
definition of an adequate minimum spending level) was designed to
include funding for districts to provide supplemental learning
opportunities for their low-income students. Unfortunately, however,
many school districts have been unable to fully implement these
programs because the foundation budget has not been adjusted over time
to account for rising fixed costs in areas such as employee health
insurance and special education.   This has
especially harmed low-wealth communities, limiting their ability to
provide supports for low-income youth as envisioned by the
Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993. 

Providing extra time on its own
will not be enough. This paper explores
the conditions under which more learning time has been used effectively
to promote greater student learning, improved social skills, and better
overall wellness. The available evidence shows examples of promising
practices as well as cautionary tales of initiatives that were not
implemented effectively.

It is important to note that
quality programs require significant
resources. Through several case studies that identify programs of
exemplary quality, this report estimates that the annual cost of
extending the school day is $1,650 per-student, providing high-quality
after-school is $1,750 per-student, and providing effective summer
learning is $1,450 per-student. These figures reflect the current
actual costs of effective programs, and may differ from the exact cost
of implementation in other communities.

When
Can Increasing Learning Time Be
Effective?

Schools can use increased
learning time to raise academic performance
and promote broader opportunity, especially for low-income youth, who
generally benefit from fewer out-of-school resources than are available
to their higher-income peers. In fact, there is a stark contrast
between the amount of money spent by higher-income families and
lower-income families on out-of-school enrichment. Specifically, the
highest-income 20 percent of families spend close to seven times as
much on enrichment activities than do the lowest-income 20
percent. 

image1Fortunately,
there are multiple
examples of schools using increased
time to successfully help level the playing field.  Additional
time can be particularly important for English language learners (ELL)
who have to improve academic English skills. Depending on their age,
ELL students can take up to five years to catch up with peers on
academic language skills.  Our schools, however, are expected
to bring these youth to proficiency on MCAS within two years. This
mismatch can be addressed with additional time.

Increasing learning time can
also help provide all of our students with
the deeper learning necessary to succeed in the 21st century economy.
The standard calendar is a legacy of times when schooling reflected an
agrarian and industrial economy. In the past, many students supported
family farms and young people could leave schools with a basic
education and still live successful middle-class lives. That time is
long over. Expanded time public schools, such as the Matthew J. Kuss
Middle School in Fall River, have used increased time to prepare
students to compete in a global knowledge-based economy, providing
hands on science and technology electives such as engineering,
astronomy, and video production.   These courses
align with science standards, increase student engagement and mastery
of relevant skills, and partner with outside groups, such as the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to provide authentic field
experiences.

Students are not the only
beneficiaries of increased time. 
Teachers can benefit by having more time to collaborate and prepare for
serving their students.  Such activities include teachers
meeting in teams across subject areas and grade levels, aligning their
practices and tailoring curricular and student engagement techniques. A
later case study of the Orchard Gardens Pilot School in Boston will
show that an extended day can more than double the planning time
available for teachers.

Parents and families can also
gain from increased learning time as they
are able to count on structured and safe environments for their
children.  These benefits are likely greatest for families
struggling to find child care while working to keep food on the table.
Increased time can create a better match between the school day of
children and the work schedules of parents and families.

Three
Options for Increasing Time

Research on existing expanded
learning time programs makes clear that
adding time on its own is not sufficient to promote positive social and
academic growth for youth. The following sections review evidence on
three options for increasing time and identify promising examples of
successful implementation. These successes serve as the basis for the
cost analysis that follows. The three options for increasing time
explored in this paper are:

  1. Expanding the length of
    the
    school day
    , which allows for
    additional
    academic content and support, enrichment opportunities, and teacher
    professional development. More time, if delivered by external partners,
    frees up teachers to collaborate, hone their craft, and plan based on
    student data. At the same time, teachers, external partners, and
    community organizations can provide variety and broaden learning.
  2. Providing structured
    high-quality after-school services
    ,
    which
    include enrichment and academic support for youth directly after the
    standard day. Delivery of after-school services does not necessarily
    include the direct involvement of traditional teaching staff. However,
    coordination between after-school and the standard day is important.
  3. Operating academic and
    enrichment programs during the summer and
    other school vacations
    , to
    help prevent vacation learning loss. These
    services also provide enrichment and other engaging experiences over
    the summer that are less available in communities that serve youth from
    lower-income backgrounds.

Option
1 – Extended School Day

One option for increased time
is to extend the length of the
traditional six hour school day to eight or nine hours. Massachusetts
is a national leader in this field, and eight years ago, was the first
state to develop a specific grant program for extended school
days.  Massachusetts is also home to the National Center on
Time and Learning (NCTL) and its state affiliate, Massachusetts 2020,
the leading technical assistance organizations actively helping
districts and schools increase learning time.

Extended school days have been
successful when combined with other
effective practices, particularly for low-income students and those in
need of academic support. Extended day had small positive effects
throughout fifteen studies undertaken between 1985 and 2009. There are
larger positive effects for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and
those who struggle academically. 

What matters is how time is
used, not just the addition of more
time.   Extended day schedules have been a critical
part of successful school turnarounds when they have been used to
support several effective practices. These practices include increased
collaboration between teachers, more effective use of student data to
target academic support, improved school leadership, and deeper
partnerships with community organizations. 

Massachusetts
Extended Learning Time Grants – Challenges and
Opportunities

The Commonwealth’s experience
with extending school days underscores
the central role of program quality in making a difference with
increased time. Our state currently invests roughly $15 million
annually in extended learning time (ELT) grants.  The
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) provides ELT
grants to expand the school year by 300 hours a year or 8 hours
weekly.  Participating schools typically receive $1,300 for
each student to implement an ELT program focused on four elements: 1)
increased time on core academic subjects, 2) targeted academic support
for struggling students, 3) collaborative planning time for teachers,
and 4) increased enrichment activities.

The returns from the state ELT
grant have been inconsistent. 
A rigorous multi-year study by the firm Abt Associates, found no
positive impact of the ELT grant on student MCAS achievement. 
This disappointing result reflected variation in the ability of schools
to implement increased time with quality. Many students and teachers in
ELT schools reported being worn out by the longer day. These sites also
had fewer students reporting positive attitudes towards
school.  However, this study only looked at the quantity of
time used on different subjects, not the quality.

Despite the lack of quality
implementation of ELT grants across all
participant schools, several schools stand above the pack, using extra
time to enrich the student experience. For instance, Boston Arts
Academy (BAA), a visual and performing arts high school, leveraged its
state grant to increase teacher professional development and to bring
in professional artists to work as adjunct faculty.  Boston
Arts Academy’s unified career and enrichment focus on arts provides a
clear goal for increased time, while also supporting a rigorous
academic program. BAA engages youth by placing students in chosen art
enrichment throughout the school day and by partnering with renowned
institutions such as Berklee College of Music and the Boston
Conservatory.

While it remains a Level 3
school, Boston Arts Academy students have
shown academic gains since the school received the state ELT grant. BAA
achieved a 96 percent proficiency rate in English Language Arts (ELA)
in 2013 compared to a rate of 55 percent in 2007 (the year before it
first received the grant).  Math proficiency also improved
from 54 to 71 percent.  Although this particular set of
partnerships and services is difficult to replicate, other schools and
districts can learn from this model of using additional time to infuse
an engaging career and enrichment focus into high schools.

EXTENDED
DAY CASE STUDY – Turnaround at the Orchard Gardens Pilot K-8
in Boston

The Orchard Gardens Pilot K-8
School (OGPS) in Boston provides another
useful example of successful extended day design and
implementation.  Before receiving Federal School Improvement
Grants (SIG) to support its turnaround, OGPS was one of the
lowest-ranked schools in MCAS achievement, with proficiency rates at or
below 20 percent. 

With SIG funding, OGPS
increased professional development and improved
instructional practices, using three hours daily of additional time for
6th-8th graders and one hour for K-5th.  The grant required a
change in the principal and many teachers. OGPS received $3.7 million
in federal grants over three years to implement the changes. 
That amounts to roughly $1,600 per-student from the SIG grant, one of
several funding sources supporting the turnaround. 

The Orchard Gardens turnaround
is consistent with earlier success
stories from the state ELT grant and confirms the need to combine
extended day with other effective practices.  Orchard Gardens
doubled the planning time for staff to work together and individually
on data analysis, discipline, school culture, and instructional
practices, providing ten hours weekly.

High-quality partner
organizations were also critical to the
effort.  Orchard Gardens partnered with the non-profit Citizen
Schools to serve its 6th-8th graders during extended time. Citizen
Schools provided an array of supports including academic instruction,
field trips, hands on-apprenticeships with community partners and
businesses, and family engagement.  BELL (Building Educated
Leaders for Life) served as the lead partner for Orchard Gardens K-5th
graders. Other partners such as City Year, Teach Plus, and ANet
supported classroom management, instructional practices, school
leadership, and data analysis.

Orchard Gardens achieved rapid
growth in MCAS performance with the
combination of resources, talent, partnerships, and increased learning
time. The share of Orchard Gardens students proficient and advanced on
MCAS increased by 14 percentage points in ELA and 24 points in math
within three years.  In 2011, the growth at OGPS exceeded 87
percent of similar schools in ELA and 98 percent in math. 

Without continued funding, the
Orchard Gardens turnaround may not be
sustainable.  The federal SIG funding ran out after three
years, in 2013. In response, the school worked with private partners
and Boston Public Schools to raise additional funds, trim the amount of
professional development time, and reduce administrative positions.
Leadership and teacher turnover is also a concern. School leaders have
struggled to maintain academic successes while scrambling to assemble
sufficient resources.  Another concern is that funding may be
removed based on the very success of the turnaround; as opposed to
continuing progress long enough to make a previously failing school top
quality.

image2Orchard Gardens
demonstrates
that underperforming schools serving
primarily low-income students of color can increase academic
performance using extended day.  This promising turnaround
required a combination of community partnerships, effective teacher
development, strong leadership, and adequate resources, features that
can be used as a blueprint for future efforts.
Although Orchard Gardens is has unique flexibilities as a pilot school,
its successful elements can be adopted more broadly. Districts across
the state, including Cambridge, Fall River, Greenfield, Malden, Revere,
and Worcester have successfully brought stakeholders together,
especially local teachers’ unions, to incorporate extended day
schedules into teacher contracts.  These districts have worked
closely with unions to facilitate extended day and have used different
approaches such as providing stipends to teachers to cover additional
time and having staff start and end their workday later.

Option
2 – High-Quality After-School

Schools and districts can also
use after-school programming to improve
supports for kids. In contrast to extended day, after-school programs
typically staff extra hours of student support with professionals who
are not traditional teachers. Incorporating other professional staff
has the potential upside of using fresh personnel that can focus solely
on after-school time, avoiding putting more responsibilities on
teachers.  On the other hand, outside staff may not have the
same level of training as classroom teachers. In addition, after-school
does not necessarily provide teachers with the enhanced professional
development time that can come from an extended day.

There are numerous approaches
to after-school that can be
effective.  Benefits arise from combining academic support
with engaging activities that provide variety.  Close
partnerships with schools, families, and community organizations are
also key to making after-school effective. 

The
Benefits of Quality After-School Services

A broad range of research shows
that after-school can help improve
student performance. One scan found positive impacts on math and
reading for low-income youth across 35 studies between 1986 and
2003. 

As with the research on other
increased learning approaches, gains from
after-school depend on quality implementation. A 2007 study of vetted
high-quality programs serving 3,000 middle and elementary students in
eight states, found impressive results from quality
after-school.   The positive impact of high-quality
after-school was roughly 12 times greater than the improvement found in
a national study of after-school funded by the Federal 21st Century
Community Learning Centers Program (21st CCLC).

In addition to academic
benefits, after-school can help study habits,
reduce risky behaviors, and increase social-emotional wellness and
health. A Harvard Family Research Project review, for instance, found
that the Go Grrls program in Arizona increased self-esteem, the Medical
College of Georgia FitKid program reduced obesity, and the Children’s
Aid Society Carrera Adolescent program reduced substance use and teen
pregnancy.  A University of California Irvine study found
significant gains from after-school in student work habits and
persistence along with improved social skills, behavior, and
attendance. 

image3Some after-school
programs,
however, have been implemented poorly. One
of the largest after-school initiatives, the federal 21st CCLC grant,
supported after-school services in 6,800 schools between 1998 and
2004.  Funding also dramatically increased from $40 million in
1998 to $1 billion in 2001, where it has roughly remained
since.  A rigorous 2005 study found no effect on grades or
standardized test scores in elementary or middle school.

The challenges found in the
21st CCLC grant are common to after-school
efforts. These setbacks included high turnover among staff, low staff
salaries, lack of coordination with the in-school curriculum, and
burnout from teachers who taught after-school on top of a full day in
the classroom.  There were also problems with attendance and
student attrition, with middle schoolers attending the program only
once a week on average throughout the year, with declining
participation over time.

AFTER-SCHOOL
CASE STUDY – Los Angeles’ Better Educated
Students for Tomorrow

LA’s BEST (Los Angeles’ Better
Educated Students for Tomorrow) is a
large after-school program that has an established record of success.
It began in 1988 when civic leaders in Los Angeles committed to provide
structured after-school supports, confronting issues such as dropout
rates and unsupervised time on the streets. 

The LA’s BEST core program
consists of four daily elements called
“beats” that include help with homework, academic support, enrichment
sessions, and healthy meals.  The program runs for three
hours, five days per week. As of 2013, it served 194 elementary schools
across Los Angeles reaching 28,000 youth.  The program is
customized based on school need, student interest, and staff
expertise.  Examples of enhanced programs include STEM,
entrepreneurship, and creative writing.  These custom elements
are formed in partnership with diverse organizations such as Junior
Achievement, NASA, and the University of Southern California.

Numerous research studies have
shown that LA’s BEST helps kids
academically.  Students in LA’s BEST achieve increases in
performance on state standardized tests in math, with greater scores
for students with higher levels of attendance.  Overall, LA’s
BEST students have improved attendance and grades in middle school and
take more rigorous courses, all of which promote future
success.   A separate study looking at the long-term
impact showed that the program increased young people’s chances of
graduating from high-school. 

LA’s BEST also helps kids
beyond academics. Student aspirations of
future success, including belief in finishing high school and attending
college, increase for youth in LA’s BEST.  Social capital and
positive relationships between kids and caring adult role models are
also fostered.  A cost-benefit study found that participation
in LA’s BEST reduced the likelihood of youth committing
crime.  Looking at the prevention of juvenile crime alone,
LA’s BEST delivered $2.50 for every dollar invested.  It is
likely the entire range of program benefits adds to this return.

Option
3 – Summer and Vacation Learning

Programming during the summer
and other school vacations provide a
third option for increased learning time to improve supports for
kids.  Summer programs in particular can address the
long-standing problem of students losing academic skills during
vacations. A typical child loses a month of learning over the summer,
according to evidence from 40 studies going back several
decades.  Overall losses in math skills have been the most
common, while losses in reading and language skills are more severe for
low-income youth.  This creates an overall gap of three months
in reading skills between low-income youth who lose ground, and more
affluent peers who in contrast tend to gain skills over the
summer. 

More recent research confirms
the challenge of summer learning loss. A
2007 study that tracked low-income youth between first grade and age
22, found that two-thirds of the income-based achievement gap reflected
imbalances in summer learning.  Just as disturbing, this study
found that summer losses persist over time, limiting access to rigorous
courses in high school and higher education.  Summer
programming offers an opportunity to prevent achievement gaps before
they form.

Vacation
Week Programs in Lawrence and Boston

Lawrence and Boston have
recently tested out vacation week programs
that have shown promising initial signs of improving student
achievement. These urban districts have many students who struggle
academically and have large populations of ELL and low-income students
who have the most to gain from increased learning time.

Boston and Lawrence have
focused increased time efforts on February and
April vacations.  Several schools across Boston and Lawrence
have run one-week programs called Acceleration Academies during these
vacation weeks, where students who are near the proficient level on
MCAS are provided an intensive one-week course led by highly qualified
teachers. Over the vacation week, students are supported in academics
and enrichment for five hours daily, receiving a month’s worth of
instruction in math or ELA.   Students also earn
incentives for participation and benefit from class sizes of less than
half the norm. 

So far, the return from
vacation academies in Boston and Lawrence has
been notable considering their short duration. The Boston program,
which spread from a single pilot site, Clarence Edwards Middle School,
to eight others, was associated with increases in MCAS growth
percentiles of 14 points in ELA and 13 points in Math compared to
non-participants, with greater gains for SPED and ELL
students.  This represents enough gains to move a student from
moderate to high growth on a statewide metric. 

In the first year of Lawrence’s
turnaround plan, these academies helped
close the previous gap between Lawrence and other low-income urban
districts in the state. Their effects were comparable to more time
intensive strategies.  In this first year, acceleration
academies helped deliver half of district gains in math, and it was
only students in these academies that showed significant improvement on
ELA. 

There are potential drawbacks
with the strategy. These include the
intense focus on test preparation that could be at the expense of
broader learning, and the selection of kids based on better behavior
and MCAS scores within range of proficiency. These students may not be
representative of a wider population that also needs additional
support. It also remains to be seen if gains from temporary academies
will be retained over time. 

SUMMER
LEARNING CASE STUDY – BELL (Building Educated Leaders
For Life)

As with extended day and
after-school, there are quality summer
learning practices already in place helping kids.  One
exemplar organization, BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) has
achieved positive results.  Currently the program works in
urban areas in 13 states and Washington D.C.   The
BELL approach consists of classes of 20 students with a qualified
classroom teacher alongside a teaching assistant, typically a college
student.  In Massachusetts, BELL Summer operates for five to
six weeks throughout the summer with classes meeting Monday to Friday
for six hours. Students benefit from a variety of elements, including
academic instruction in math and literacy, enrichment classes including
art, science, physical education, and off-site field trips.

BELL has a positive impact on
academics, based on a 2006 study using
the most rigorous standard for evaluation, a randomized control trial.
The study compared students randomly assigned to BELL in three sites
across Boston and New York City to non-participants. The impact of BELL
on reading test scores was a months’ worth of academic growth, results
that are similar to the same amount of time spent in school. 

In this study, the control
group, which attained one fewer month of
academic growth, had parents who actively signed them up for summer
programs. This control group received almost as much summer enrichment
time, but in other programs that may not have had the same quality
elements.  Gains from BELL would likely be larger compared to
students who had no structured support. There were other positive
indicators for BELL participants including families spending more time
reading together and a reduction of time watching television.

Overall, BELL has a significant
track record, and has continued to
refine its approach while expanding to more regions of the country. It
has done this through new partnerships with school districts from North
Carolina to California, and with the national YMCA network. Based on
this record of success DESE has identified BELL as a Priority Partner
for school turnaround.

image4

The
Costs of Increasing Time

When increased time is
implemented with quality, it can have many
benefits for young people. The following cost analysis estimates the
resources required to implement the quality programs covered in the
case studies. These estimates can provide a reasonable baseline for the
funding necessary to bring similar programs to more communities.
However, the actual cost of implementing increased time will vary based
on local conditions.

It is worth keeping in mind a
few common characteristics of costs that
apply to increasing learning time across all communities. 
Overall, the marginal cost of more learning time is lower than regular
school costs, because factors such as facilities and transportation
tend to be fixed.  Teaching staff is the largest
cost.  The mix of instructional staff between regular
teachers, assistants, and partner organizations plays a large role in
the staffing cost and the overall financing of increased time.
Administrative costs are less variable than teaching staff but do
increase with added time. 

There is no one size fits all
approach to staffing increased time.
Teacher burnout and inadequate training for outside providers are
potential risks. Finding a separate staff of part-time workers, may be
difficult, especially those with the appropriate skills and background.
There are also regional differences in where high-quality partner
organizations are located. Despite the constraints, each of the case
studies has developed an approach that works to deliver results.
Although the case studies are focused on elementary or middle school
students, the programmatic building blocks are appropriate for all
youth and can be tailored to the needs of high school youth.

Cost
of Extended Day 

In 2014, the National Center on
Time and Learning (NCTL) profiled five
exceptional extended day schools. Each made an extended day work in a
traditional public district, using various sources of funding, and each
outperformed peer district schools. NCTL found that expanded day
schools tapped into a variety of funding streams including federal,
state, local, and philanthropic funds.  The effective extended
day schools profiled required dedicated resources, yet none had a
reliable long-term funding source. This created a yearly scramble to
locate funding.

Focusing on the Orchard Gardens
Pilot K-8 School in particular, the
NCTL study found that the total cost for the program was $1,653
per-student (adjusted for inflation, 2014). This average figure masks
greater cost for three hours of extended day programming for middle
schoolers. The middle school extended day cost $1,732 per-student at
the school level and $1,636 per-student in additional funds from the
lead partner Citizen Schools.  Although the total resources
for the middle school program is relatively high compared to other
increased learning time options at $3,368, Citizen Schools has the
ability to raise outside funds, making the district cost of expanding
these services closer to the $1,732 per-student costs at the school
level.

The additional hour of school
time at Orchard Gardens for K-5th graders
costs significantly less, $962 per-student, in inflation adjusted
terms. The additional resources invested in the middle school program
were beneficial. Greater academic growth has been achieved by the
6th-8th graders with three additional hours daily, compared to K-5th
graders who only had an additional hour.

Cost
of High-Quality After-School 

According to their 2012-2013
annual report, LA’s BEST reported total
costs of $46 million, split between $44 million in site program costs
and $2 million in administration.  Program staff salary and
benefits, student meals, supplies, and transportation were 93 percent
of program costs.

This total funding supports
28,000 students served, leading to a
per-student cost of $1,747 for high quality after-school, after
adjusting for regional price differences and inflation.

Cost
of Summer Learning 

In 2013, BELL Summer reported
total costs of $12.33 million for its
summer operations, serving 8,756 students, for a per-student cost of
$1,440 in current dollars.  BELL reported that a large share
of its overall spending, 88 percent is focused on program activities.

image5

Conclusion
and Policy Considerations

Many model schools and programs
have increased learning time for youth,
through summer, after-school, and extended school days, in ways that
have yielded strong results for students. To get positive results,
schools must combine increased time with other effective practices.
These quality practices include enhanced professional development for
teachers, enrichment that provides variety and authentic field
experiences, partnerships with community organizations, and use of
student data to target academic support. These approaches combined with
increased learning time hold the potential to enhance the academic and
life prospects for youth, particularly those from low-income
communities who could benefit the greatest from enhanced supports.

The costs of implementing
programs like the effective case studies are
significant. It is important to note that each of the case studies
costs more than the $1,300 per-student funding available through the
state ELT grant. These cases also suggest that multiple sources of
funding can contribute towards efforts at expanded time. Sustained
resources are likely the only way to build and sustain long-term
results.

Given the costs, it is
imperative to think carefully about which
schools and districts should be the focus of state supported efforts to
increase learning time. Taking into account academic needs and the
demographic profile of students likely to benefit the most from
additional supports are starting points for consideration. Within
districts and schools that face multiple challenges within and beyond
the school walls, there are other criteria to consider. All school
stakeholders, including principals, teachers, unions, families, and
community organizations, should be on board actively supporting
increased time. Extended time can be part of a holistic approach to
academic and social progress.

A culture of experimentation
and learning among the professional
educators carrying out increased learning time is also
crucial.  Massachusetts has already learned much in this area.
However, trying out new efforts over several years is a key step in
bringing the approaches that have worked in specific locations to
state-wide scale.  Use of MCAS, PARCC or other standardized
assessments is only one domain of outcomes to measure. Successful
expanded learning initiatives have focused on health and wellness,
built relationships between youth and caring adults, and provided
hands-on career relevant learning opportunities. At its best, increased
learning time can be beneficial, relevant, and engaging for kids. This
potential can be realized for more youth and communities across
Massachusetts.

 

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