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School Board Survey, Tech, STEM, & After-School

In a recent survey, a majority of school board members said they don't see implementing a year-round school calendar as a surefire way to boost student learning, Education Week reports.

"School Boards Circa 2010: Governance in an Accountability Era" reports that "more than 60 percent" of the respondents did not attach great importance to extending the school year as a means of improving learning. More than 80 percent felt the same way about creating charter schools.

The report was written by Frederick M. Hess, the director of education policy studies for the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, and Olivia Meeks, an AEI researcher. It captures responses from 900 school board members and 120 superintendents in more than 500 school districts across the United States, my colleague Christina Samuels reports.

The surveyed board members saw strong leadership and professional development as most critical to student learning. While the full survey only briefly touches on extending the school year, I thought it worth pointing out as a gauge of one group's feeling on the topic.

In other news, the After-School Corporation's Lucy Friedman wrote recently on the Huffington Post about the important role the after-school community can play in technology and learning, particularly for low-income students with limited access to the Internet and tech tools.

"There aren't that many opportunities to hit the reset button on history, but we in our field—expanded-learning-time leaders and after-school networks—have a chance to prevent that the same kids who always get short-changed are harmed again. As bridge-builders between communities, parents, and schools, we can prevent the least advantaged students from getting sidelined while others speed down the 21st-century learning track," Friedman writes.

All this comes in the same year that the Afterschool Alliance, the National Afterschool Association, and the National Summer Learning Association have announced a partnership to encourage STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—learning in after-school programs.

A critical goal is "to engage kids and get them excited about science, technology, engineering, and math," Paul Young, the president and chief executive officer of the National AfterSchool Association says in a statement the three groups released. "That's a task uniquely suited to after-school and summer learning programs because they don't have to teach to the test, but instead have the time and space for the kinds of hands-on learning that engages students," he added.

Read the full statement on making 2011 the "Year of Science in After-School" here.

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