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Nellie Mae Grants Districts Funds for Out-of-School Efforts

The Nellie Mae Foundation is awarding $16.4 million in grants over a three-year period that will support, among other efforts, expanded learning and out-of-classroom experiences for school districts in New England, the foundation has announced.

More specifically, these grants will support "student-centered approaches to remodel education" that include community partnerships, the use of added time to the traditional school calendar, and innovative experiences outside school walls.

These grants were awarded to districts in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, but are part of larger efforts by the foundation to support student-centered learning that includes funding further research on the student-centered approach, increasing public knowledge about the issue, and encouraging federal and state policy that would support student-centered learning in more districts nationwide.

"The combined challenges of more learners needing to succeed and succeed at a higher level, led us to this approach," said Nicholas C. Donohue, president and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, in a release. "Student-centered learning prepares students to master both the academic knowledge and the critical-thinking, problem-solving and communication skills they need to thrive beyond high school."

Last month, my colleague Catherine Gewertz wrote of some related efforts under way in New Hampshire. Catherine takes a look and what she writes is "the state's emphasis on three related ideas: 'anytime, anywhere' learning, which includes out-of-school and virtual programs; personalized education, which strives to tailor studies to students' needs and interests; and competency-based learning," by profiling a high school in Bristol, N.H.

And my colleague Sean Cavanagh also wrote about states' increasing push to test students' proficiency in subjects by "what they know" rather how much time they spend in the classroom.

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