October 2011 Archives

Happy Halloween! In honor of my favorite holiday, I thought I'd share the Halloween-themed out-of-school activity I experienced here in the District of Columbia. I spent Friday morning learning about high school science walking through the rooms of a "haunted house" at American University with some students from the Washington Math, Science and Technology Public Charter School. Other schools in the area will also be visiting the house today, and this past weekend, nearly 600 local residents visited. The rooms, repurposed into spooky chambers, were incorporated into science lessons, given by American University faculty and students as part of their ...


A teacher from Nevada recently emailed me to ask about where he could find more information to help him decide whether his school's proposal to change its calendar, specifically to reduce the time off in the summer and reallocate the breaks throughout the year, was a good idea. "Some teachers are concerned about these changes (for a number of reasons), but I was trying to read any research on the subject before forming my own opinion," he said. The teacher's email highlighted the growing attention on re-examining the traditional school calendar of 180, six and a half-hour days, with more ...


The majority of states rank in the middle of the road in making progress on the availibility of their after-school programming, according to new reports from the Afterschool Alliance. The progress reports, one for each of the 50 states, were released today to coincide with the alliance's annual Lights on Afterschool event, a national rally in support of after-school programs. [Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is even heading to Chicago to speak in support of after-school for the rally.] States were rated on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. No states received a 5, and ...


The Corn Palace in South Dakota, the Empire State Building, a military base in Germany, a battleship in Pasadena, Texas, the Mister Rogers landmark in Pittsburgh, the Hurricane Katrina memorial in Gulfport, Miss., and many more notable sites stateside and overseas will be lit up on Oct. 20 to recognize the importance of after-school programs in the 12th annual Lights on Afterschool event, spearheaded by the Afterschool Alliance. The best lighting efforts will be recognized with awards, funded by a grant from JCPenny, announced at a later date. But the lighted landmarks are only one component of the annual event; ...


The mantra of "not enough time in the day" continues to resonate in education, as the use of additional time pushes forward as a possible school reform strategy. The recent announcement that states can opt out of some of No Child Left Behind's school accountability requirements if they have well-structured plans for school reform touches the out-of-school-time realm. The federal Department of Education listed "redesigning the school day, week, or year to include additional time for student learning and teacher collaboration" as one of the turnaround principles schools should look to when trying to improve. In addition, states that receive ...


Support will continue for after-school programs if they improve their quality by focusing on management, staffing, curriculum, and evaluation, says a new report from the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards & Student Testing (CRESST). CRESST, based at the University of California, Los Angeles, has conducted more than two decades of evaluations on out-of-school-time programs, including 21st Century Community Learning Center funded ones, LA's BEST , which I wrote about last spring, and a number of state-funded programs. The report's recommendations are drawn from this research. According to the report's writers, Denise Huang and Ronald Dietal, key components of quality after-school ...


City leadership is becoming key to building the depth and breadth of local after-school programs, says a report from the National League of Cities released today. "Municipal Leadership for Afterschool: Citywide Approaches Spreading Across the Country," profiles 27 cities around the country that are leading the charge in developing Web-like structures to support out-of-school time in their municipalities through strong city leadership, public and private dollars, community partnerships, and monitoring of quality standards. Based on research and interviews with these cities' political and community leaders, the report outlines key traits that set them (and their after-school systems) apart from others. ...


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