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Seamless Transition to a Year-Round Learning Model

Removing barriers between the traditional school day, after-school programs, and summer programs can promote a year-round learning model that may be effective in improving outcomes for disadvantaged students, says a new brief from the Harvard Family Research Project.

The brief says that increasing access to new experiences, learning environments, and social services for unprivileged students, and support from families and the community can help facilitate transition into year-round learning. The sustainability of such a program is highly dependent on outside support, particularly local resources, the brief suggests. The sharing of data among programs, like attendance records and performance reports, are also important in creating a "seamless," cohesive year-round program, the authors write.

Researchers examined existing studies on expanded learning programs as well as a more-intensive look at 14 initiatives that have implemented year-round-based models. Some are more school-based, such as programs in Cincinnati, Des Moines, Iowa, and Oakland, Calif., whereas others are provided by community-based organizations like Bottom Line in Boston and Worchester, Mass., and Groundwork in New York City. Six of the 14 programs are profiled in the brief.

"[The initiatives'] early successes and challenges suggest the need for continuing dialogue and mutual learning among all those committed to guiding youth toward productive lives now and in the future," the researchers write. "Year-round learning is a promising way of thinking about learning time and opportunities and how to organize them to support youth development, particularly for economically and otherwise disadvantaged youth."

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