Beyond the Bell

Roadmap

Thepromise of a high-quality educationleading to opportunity andshared prosperity for all children is a deeply held value inMassachusetts. Despite a record of prominent successes, however, ourCommonwealth has struggled to provide students from all backgrounds thesupports necessary for long-term life success. To confront thischallenge, the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center and the RennieCenter for Education Research & Policy are undertaking thisshared research project: the Roadmap for Expanding Opportunity:Evidence on What Works in Education.

Thisseries of reports builds on progress initiated with the EducationReform Act of 1993, addressing critical areas in which progress hasstalled. Ultimately, this project will provide a roadmap for bringingeducation reform into the 21st century. Reports will examine promisingevidence-based strategies for supporting all children in achievingcollege, career, and life success. In particular, analyses will begrounded in a recognition that learning must extend beyond traditionalschool structures and offerings.

Reports will offerstrategies for adapting a broad evidence base tolocal contexts, including cost analyses to assess the level ofresources required to support district and statewide innovation.Ultimately, these briefs are designed to provide education leaders andpractitioners with building blocks for driving future educationalreforms across the Commonwealth.

Forall endnotes, please see the pdf versionof this paper.

Introduction

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

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

One way to increase theseopportunities is to provide additional timefor academic and enrichment activities. The benefits of additional timecan be particularly important for children who would otherwise not haveaccess to these resources.

Statewide discussionson education reform in the early 1990s included increased learning timeamong a range of supports that could promote wider opportunities forchildren. The landmark 1991 report, EveryChild a Winner,from theMassachusetts Business Alliance for Education stated:

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

Based on this recommendation,the foundation budget (the state’sdefinition of an adequate minimum spending level) was designed toinclude funding for districts to provide supplemental learningopportunities for their low-income students. Unfortunately, however,many school districts have been unable to fully implement theseprograms because the foundation budget has not been adjusted over timeto account for rising fixed costs in areas such as employee healthinsurance and special education.   This hasespecially harmed low-wealth communities, limiting their ability toprovide supports for low-income youth as envisioned by theMassachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993. 

Providing extra time on its ownwill not be enough. This paper exploresthe conditions under which more learning time has been used effectivelyto promote greater student learning, improved social skills, and betteroverall wellness. The available evidence shows examples of promisingpractices as well as cautionary tales of initiatives that were notimplemented effectively.

It is important to note thatquality programs require significantresources. Through several case studies that identify programs ofexemplary quality, this report estimates that the annual cost ofextending the school day is $1,650 per-student, providing high-qualityafter-school is $1,750 per-student, and providing effective summerlearning is $1,450 per-student. These figures reflect the currentactual costs of effective programs, and may differ from the exact costof implementation in other communities.

WhenCan Increasing Learning Time BeEffective?

Schools can use increasedlearning time to raise academic performanceand promote broader opportunity, especially for low-income youth, whogenerally benefit from fewer out-of-school resources than are availableto their higher-income peers. In fact, there is a stark contrastbetween the amount of money spent by higher-income families andlower-income families on out-of-school enrichment. Specifically, thehighest-income 20 percent of families spend close to seven times asmuch on enrichment activities than do the lowest-income 20percent. 

image1Fortunately,there are multipleexamples of schools using increasedtime to successfully help level the playing field.  Additionaltime 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 onacademic language skills.  Our schools, however, are expectedto bring these youth to proficiency on MCAS within two years. Thismismatch can be addressed with additional time.

Increasing learning time canalso help provide all of our students withthe deeper learning necessary to succeed in the 21st century economy.The standard calendar is a legacy of times when schooling reflected anagrarian and industrial economy. In the past, many students supportedfamily farms and young people could leave schools with a basiceducation and still live successful middle-class lives. That time islong over. Expanded time public schools, such as the Matthew J. KussMiddle School in Fall River, have used increased time to preparestudents to compete in a global knowledge-based economy, providinghands on science and technology electives such as engineering,astronomy, and video production.   These coursesalign with science standards, increase student engagement and masteryof relevant skills, and partner with outside groups, such as theHarvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to provide authentic fieldexperiences.

Students are not the onlybeneficiaries of increased time. Teachers can benefit by having more time to collaborate and prepare forserving their students.  Such activities include teachersmeeting in teams across subject areas and grade levels, aligning theirpractices and tailoring curricular and student engagement techniques. Alater case study of the Orchard Gardens Pilot School in Boston willshow that an extended day can more than double the planning timeavailable for teachers.

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

ThreeOptions for Increasing Time

Research on existing expandedlearning time programs makes clear thatadding time on its own is not sufficient to promote positive social andacademic growth for youth. The following sections review evidence onthree options for increasing time and identify promising examples ofsuccessful implementation. These successes serve as the basis for thecost analysis that follows. The three options for increasing timeexplored in this paper are:

  1. Expanding the length oftheschool day, which allows foradditionalacademic content and support, enrichment opportunities, and teacherprofessional development. More time, if delivered by external partners,frees up teachers to collaborate, hone their craft, and plan based onstudent data. At the same time, teachers, external partners, andcommunity organizations can provide variety and broaden learning.
  2. Providing structuredhigh-quality after-school services,whichinclude enrichment and academic support for youth directly after thestandard day. Delivery of after-school services does not necessarilyinclude the direct involvement of traditional teaching staff. However,coordination between after-school and the standard day is important.
  3. Operating academic andenrichment programs during the summer andother school vacations, tohelp prevent vacation learning loss. Theseservices also provide enrichment and other engaging experiences overthe summer that are less available in communities that serve youth fromlower-income backgrounds.

Option1 – Extended School Day

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

Extended school days have beensuccessful when combined with othereffective practices, particularly for low-income students and those inneed of academic support. Extended day had small positive effectsthroughout fifteen studies undertaken between 1985 and 2009. There arelarger positive effects for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds andthose who struggle academically. 

What matters is how time isused, not just the addition of moretime.   Extended day schedules have been a criticalpart of successful school turnarounds when they have been used tosupport several effective practices. These practices include increasedcollaboration between teachers, more effective use of student data totarget academic support, improved school leadership, and deeperpartnerships with community organizations. 

MassachusettsExtended Learning Time Grants – Challenges andOpportunities

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

The returns from the state ELTgrant have been inconsistent. A rigorous multi-year study by the firm Abt Associates, found nopositive impact of the ELT grant on student MCAS achievement. This disappointing result reflected variation in the ability of schoolsto implement increased time with quality. Many students and teachers inELT schools reported being worn out by the longer day. These sites alsohad fewer students reporting positive attitudes towardsschool.  However, this study only looked at the quantity oftime used on different subjects, not the quality.

Despite the lack of qualityimplementation of ELT grants across allparticipant schools, several schools stand above the pack, using extratime to enrich the student experience. For instance, Boston ArtsAcademy (BAA), a visual and performing arts high school, leveraged itsstate grant to increase teacher professional development and to bringin professional artists to work as adjunct faculty.  BostonArts Academy’s unified career and enrichment focus on arts provides aclear goal for increased time, while also supporting a rigorousacademic program. BAA engages youth by placing students in chosen artenrichment throughout the school day and by partnering with renownedinstitutions such as Berklee College of Music and the BostonConservatory.

While it remains a Level 3school, Boston Arts Academy students haveshown academic gains since the school received the state ELT grant. BAAachieved a 96 percent proficiency rate in English Language Arts (ELA)in 2013 compared to a rate of 55 percent in 2007 (the year before itfirst received the grant).  Math proficiency also improvedfrom 54 to 71 percent.  Although this particular set ofpartnerships and services is difficult to replicate, other schools anddistricts can learn from this model of using additional time to infusean engaging career and enrichment focus into high schools.

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

The Orchard Gardens Pilot K-8School (OGPS) in Boston provides anotheruseful example of successful extended day design andimplementation.  Before receiving Federal School ImprovementGrants (SIG) to support its turnaround, OGPS was one of thelowest-ranked schools in MCAS achievement, with proficiency rates at orbelow 20 percent. 

With SIG funding, OGPSincreased professional development and improvedinstructional practices, using three hours daily of additional time for6th-8th graders and one hour for K-5th.  The grant required achange in the principal and many teachers. OGPS received $3.7 millionin federal grants over three years to implement the changes. That amounts to roughly $1,600 per-student from the SIG grant, one ofseveral funding sources supporting the turnaround. 

The Orchard Gardens turnaroundis consistent with earlier successstories from the state ELT grant and confirms the need to combineextended day with other effective practices.  Orchard Gardensdoubled the planning time for staff to work together and individuallyon data analysis, discipline, school culture, and instructionalpractices, providing ten hours weekly.

High-quality partnerorganizations were also critical to theeffort.  Orchard Gardens partnered with the non-profit CitizenSchools to serve its 6th-8th graders during extended time. CitizenSchools provided an array of supports including academic instruction,field trips, hands on-apprenticeships with community partners andbusinesses, and family engagement.  BELL (Building EducatedLeaders for Life) served as the lead partner for Orchard Gardens K-5thgraders. Other partners such as City Year, Teach Plus, and ANetsupported classroom management, instructional practices, schoolleadership, and data analysis.

Orchard Gardens achieved rapidgrowth in MCAS performance with thecombination of resources, talent, partnerships, and increased learningtime. The share of Orchard Gardens students proficient and advanced onMCAS increased by 14 percentage points in ELA and 24 points in mathwithin three years.  In 2011, the growth at OGPS exceeded 87percent of similar schools in ELA and 98 percent in math. 

Without continued funding, theOrchard Gardens turnaround may not besustainable.  The federal SIG funding ran out after threeyears, in 2013. In response, the school worked with private partnersand Boston Public Schools to raise additional funds, trim the amount ofprofessional development time, and reduce administrative positions.Leadership and teacher turnover is also a concern. School leaders havestruggled to maintain academic successes while scrambling to assemblesufficient resources.  Another concern is that funding may beremoved based on the very success of the turnaround; as opposed tocontinuing progress long enough to make a previously failing school topquality.

image2Orchard Gardensdemonstratesthat underperforming schools servingprimarily low-income students of color can increase academicperformance using extended day.  This promising turnaroundrequired a combination of community partnerships, effective teacherdevelopment, strong leadership, and adequate resources, features thatcan 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 acrossthe state, including Cambridge, Fall River, Greenfield, Malden, Revere,and Worcester have successfully brought stakeholders together,especially local teachers’ unions, to incorporate extended dayschedules into teacher contracts.  These districts have workedclosely with unions to facilitate extended day and have used differentapproaches such as providing stipends to teachers to cover additionaltime and having staff start and end their workday later.

Option2 – High-Quality After-School

Schools and districts can alsouse after-school programming to improvesupports for kids. In contrast to extended day, after-school programstypically staff extra hours of student support with professionals whoare not traditional teachers. Incorporating other professional staffhas the potential upside of using fresh personnel that can focus solelyon after-school time, avoiding putting more responsibilities onteachers.  On the other hand, outside staff may not have thesame level of training as classroom teachers. In addition, after-schooldoes not necessarily provide teachers with the enhanced professionaldevelopment time that can come from an extended day.

There are numerous approachesto after-school that can beeffective.  Benefits arise from combining academic supportwith engaging activities that provide variety.  Closepartnerships with schools, families, and community organizations arealso key to making after-school effective. 

TheBenefits of Quality After-School Services

A broad range of research showsthat after-school can help improvestudent performance. One scan found positive impacts on math andreading for low-income youth across 35 studies between 1986 and2003. 

As with the research on otherincreased learning approaches, gains fromafter-school depend on quality implementation. A 2007 study of vettedhigh-quality programs serving 3,000 middle and elementary students ineight states, found impressive results from qualityafter-school.   The positive impact of high-qualityafter-school was roughly 12 times greater than the improvement found ina national study of after-school funded by the Federal 21st CenturyCommunity Learning Centers Program (21st CCLC).

In addition to academicbenefits, after-school can help study habits,reduce risky behaviors, and increase social-emotional wellness andhealth. A Harvard Family Research Project review, for instance, foundthat the Go Grrls program in Arizona increased self-esteem, the MedicalCollege of Georgia FitKid program reduced obesity, and the Children’sAid Society Carrera Adolescent program reduced substance use and teenpregnancy.  A University of California Irvine study foundsignificant gains from after-school in student work habits andpersistence along with improved social skills, behavior, andattendance. 

image3Some after-schoolprograms,however, have been implemented poorly. Oneof the largest after-school initiatives, the federal 21st CCLC grant,supported after-school services in 6,800 schools between 1998 and2004.  Funding also dramatically increased from $40 million in1998 to $1 billion in 2001, where it has roughly remainedsince.  A rigorous 2005 study found no effect on grades orstandardized test scores in elementary or middle school.

The challenges found in the21st CCLC grant are common to after-schoolefforts. These setbacks included high turnover among staff, low staffsalaries, lack of coordination with the in-school curriculum, andburnout from teachers who taught after-school on top of a full day inthe classroom.  There were also problems with attendance andstudent attrition, with middle schoolers attending the program onlyonce a week on average throughout the year, with decliningparticipation over time.

AFTER-SCHOOLCASE STUDY – Los Angeles’ Better EducatedStudents for Tomorrow

LA’s BEST (Los Angeles’ BetterEducated Students for Tomorrow) is alarge after-school program that has an established record of success.It began in 1988 when civic leaders in Los Angeles committed to providestructured after-school supports, confronting issues such as dropoutrates and unsupervised time on the streets. 

The LA’s BEST core programconsists of four daily elements called”beats” that include help with homework, academic support, enrichmentsessions, and healthy meals.  The program runs for threehours, five days per week. As of 2013, it served 194 elementary schoolsacross Los Angeles reaching 28,000 youth.  The program iscustomized based on school need, student interest, and staffexpertise.  Examples of enhanced programs include STEM,entrepreneurship, and creative writing.  These custom elementsare formed in partnership with diverse organizations such as JuniorAchievement, NASA, and the University of Southern California.

Numerous research studies haveshown that LA’s BEST helps kidsacademically.  Students in LA’s BEST achieve increases inperformance on state standardized tests in math, with greater scoresfor students with higher levels of attendance.  Overall, LA’sBEST students have improved attendance and grades in middle school andtake more rigorous courses, all of which promote futuresuccess.   A separate study looking at the long-termimpact showed that the program increased young people’s chances ofgraduating from high-school. 

LA’s BEST also helps kidsbeyond academics. Student aspirations offuture success, including belief in finishing high school and attendingcollege, increase for youth in LA’s BEST.  Social capital andpositive relationships between kids and caring adult role models arealso fostered.  A cost-benefit study found that participationin LA’s BEST reduced the likelihood of youth committingcrime.  Looking at the prevention of juvenile crime alone,LA’s BEST delivered $2.50 for every dollar invested.  It islikely the entire range of program benefits adds to this return.

Option3 – Summer and Vacation Learning

Programming during the summerand other school vacations provide athird option for increased learning time to improve supports forkids.  Summer programs in particular can address thelong-standing problem of students losing academic skills duringvacations. A typical child loses a month of learning over the summer,according to evidence from 40 studies going back severaldecades.  Overall losses in math skills have been the mostcommon, while losses in reading and language skills are more severe forlow-income youth.  This creates an overall gap of three monthsin reading skills between low-income youth who lose ground, and moreaffluent peers who in contrast tend to gain skills over thesummer. 

More recent research confirmsthe challenge of summer learning loss. A2007 study that tracked low-income youth between first grade and age22, found that two-thirds of the income-based achievement gap reflectedimbalances in summer learning.  Just as disturbing, this studyfound that summer losses persist over time, limiting access to rigorouscourses in high school and higher education.  Summerprogramming offers an opportunity to prevent achievement gaps beforethey form.

VacationWeek Programs in Lawrence and Boston

Lawrence and Boston haverecently tested out vacation week programsthat have shown promising initial signs of improving studentachievement. These urban districts have many students who struggleacademically and have large populations of ELL and low-income studentswho have the most to gain from increased learning time.

Boston and Lawrence havefocused increased time efforts on February andApril vacations.  Several schools across Boston and Lawrencehave run one-week programs called Acceleration Academies during thesevacation weeks, where students who are near the proficient level onMCAS are provided an intensive one-week course led by highly qualifiedteachers. Over the vacation week, students are supported in academicsand enrichment for five hours daily, receiving a month’s worth ofinstruction in math or ELA.   Students also earnincentives for participation and benefit from class sizes of less thanhalf the norm. 

So far, the return fromvacation academies in Boston and Lawrence hasbeen 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 growthpercentiles of 14 points in ELA and 13 points in Math compared tonon-participants, with greater gains for SPED and ELLstudents.  This represents enough gains to move a student frommoderate to high growth on a statewide metric. 

In the first year of Lawrence’sturnaround plan, these academies helpedclose the previous gap between Lawrence and other low-income urbandistricts in the state. Their effects were comparable to more timeintensive strategies.  In this first year, accelerationacademies helped deliver half of district gains in math, and it wasonly students in these academies that showed significant improvement onELA. 

There are potential drawbackswith the strategy. These include theintense focus on test preparation that could be at the expense ofbroader learning, and the selection of kids based on better behaviorand MCAS scores within range of proficiency. These students may not berepresentative of a wider population that also needs additionalsupport. It also remains to be seen if gains from temporary academieswill be retained over time. 

SUMMERLEARNING CASE STUDY – BELL (Building Educated LeadersFor Life)

As with extended day andafter-school, there are quality summerlearning practices already in place helping kids.  Oneexemplar organization, BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) hasachieved positive results.  Currently the program works inurban areas in 13 states and Washington D.C.   TheBELL approach consists of classes of 20 students with a qualifiedclassroom teacher alongside a teaching assistant, typically a collegestudent.  In Massachusetts, BELL Summer operates for five tosix weeks throughout the summer with classes meeting Monday to Fridayfor six hours. Students benefit from a variety of elements, includingacademic instruction in math and literacy, enrichment classes includingart, science, physical education, and off-site field trips.

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

In this study, the controlgroup, which attained one fewer month ofacademic growth, had parents who actively signed them up for summerprograms. This control group received almost as much summer enrichmenttime, but in other programs that may not have had the same qualityelements.  Gains from BELL would likely be larger compared tostudents who had no structured support. There were other positiveindicators for BELL participants including families spending more timereading together and a reduction of time watching television.

Overall, BELL has a significanttrack record, and has continued torefine its approach while expanding to more regions of the country. Ithas done this through new partnerships with school districts from NorthCarolina to California, and with the national YMCA network. Based onthis record of success DESE has identified BELL as a Priority Partnerfor school turnaround.

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TheCosts of Increasing Time

When increased time isimplemented with quality, it can have manybenefits for young people. The following cost analysis estimates theresources required to implement the quality programs covered in thecase studies. These estimates can provide a reasonable baseline for thefunding necessary to bring similar programs to more communities.However, the actual cost of implementing increased time will vary basedon local conditions.

It is worth keeping in mind afew common characteristics of costs thatapply to increasing learning time across all communities. Overall, the marginal cost of more learning time is lower than regularschool costs, because factors such as facilities and transportationtend to be fixed.  Teaching staff is the largestcost.  The mix of instructional staff between regularteachers, assistants, and partner organizations plays a large role inthe staffing cost and the overall financing of increased time.Administrative costs are less variable than teaching staff but doincrease with added time. 

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

Costof Extended Day 

In 2014, the National Center onTime and Learning (NCTL) profiled fiveexceptional extended day schools. Each made an extended day work in atraditional public district, using various sources of funding, and eachoutperformed peer district schools. NCTL found that expanded dayschools tapped into a variety of funding streams including federal,state, local, and philanthropic funds.  The effective extendedday schools profiled required dedicated resources, yet none had areliable long-term funding source. This created a yearly scramble tolocate funding.

Focusing on the Orchard GardensPilot K-8 School in particular, theNCTL study found that the total cost for the program was $1,653per-student (adjusted for inflation, 2014). This average figure masksgreater cost for three hours of extended day programming for middleschoolers. The middle school extended day cost $1,732 per-student atthe school level and $1,636 per-student in additional funds from thelead partner Citizen Schools.  Although the total resourcesfor the middle school program is relatively high compared to otherincreased learning time options at $3,368, Citizen Schools has theability to raise outside funds, making the district cost of expandingthese services closer to the $1,732 per-student costs at the schoollevel.

The additional hour of schooltime at Orchard Gardens for K-5th graderscosts significantly less, $962 per-student, in inflation adjustedterms. The additional resources invested in the middle school programwere beneficial. Greater academic growth has been achieved by the6th-8th graders with three additional hours daily, compared to K-5thgraders who only had an additional hour.

Costof High-Quality After-School 

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

This total funding supports28,000 students served, leading to aper-student cost of $1,747 for high quality after-school, afteradjusting for regional price differences and inflation.

Costof Summer Learning 

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

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Conclusionand Policy Considerations

Many model schools and programshave increased learning time for youth,through summer, after-school, and extended school days, in ways thathave 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 forteachers, enrichment that provides variety and authentic fieldexperiences, partnerships with community organizations, and use ofstudent data to target academic support. These approaches combined withincreased learning time hold the potential to enhance the academic andlife prospects for youth, particularly those from low-incomecommunities who could benefit the greatest from enhanced supports.

The costs of implementingprograms like the effective case studies aresignificant. It is important to note that each of the case studiescosts more than the $1,300 per-student funding available through thestate ELT grant. These cases also suggest that multiple sources offunding can contribute towards efforts at expanded time. Sustainedresources are likely the only way to build and sustain long-termresults.

Given the costs, it isimperative to think carefully about whichschools and districts should be the focus of state supported efforts toincrease learning time. Taking into account academic needs and thedemographic profile of students likely to benefit the most fromadditional supports are starting points for consideration. Withindistricts and schools that face multiple challenges within and beyondthe school walls, there are other criteria to consider. All schoolstakeholders, including principals, teachers, unions, families, andcommunity organizations, should be on board actively supportingincreased time. Extended time can be part of a holistic approach toacademic and social progress.

A culture of experimentationand learning among the professionaleducators carrying out increased learning time is alsocrucial.  Massachusetts has already learned much in this area.However, trying out new efforts over several years is a key step inbringing the approaches that have worked in specific locations tostate-wide scale.  Use of MCAS, PARCC or other standardizedassessments is only one domain of outcomes to measure. Successfulexpanded learning initiatives have focused on health and wellness,built relationships between youth and caring adults, and providedhands-on career relevant learning opportunities. At its best, increasedlearning time can be beneficial, relevant, and engaging for kids. Thispotential can be realized for more youth and communities acrossMassachusetts.

 

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