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Give Credits for Out-of-School Learning, Group Advises

TASC (The After-School Corporation) wants all high school students to be able to earn academic credit for out-of-school learning experiences, according to a new report from the New York City-based organization that supports expanded and extended learning in K-12.

Focusing first on New York state, TASC is recommending that it allow all high schoolers to earn at least one credit for out-of-school learning, a model that can be scaled up elsewhere. In addition the organization proposes a framework to guide educators, policymakers, and organizations in promoting "anytime, anyplace" learning at the high school level for New York and beyond.

"This framework is not about formalizing an amount of time for learning, but about creating systems that facilitate learning anytime, anywhere among a variety of school and community partners," the report says.

The framework's recommendations focus on providing flexible, personalized, and real-world learning experiences through the support of community organizations, businesses, and institutions like museums and libraries. But for more schools to allow high school students to engage in such learning, changes need to be made, the report says:

At the state level:
-Replace seat-time requirements with competency-based assessment metrics.
At the city level:
-Build and support digital connectivity through increased technology access.
At the teacher level:
-Support and train classroom teachers in new roles.

These are just a few of the recommendations, which are based on best practices of 15 organizations that work with high school students in expanded learning opportunities and on the work of ExpandED Options, a TASC-supported initiative started this year that is working with 25 New York City schools and six community organizations to provide 150 high school students credit for learning outside the classroom in internships and apprenticeships. ExpandED Options is supposed to expand to other schools in the district in subsequent years.

At the high school level, learning experiences out of school can encourage students to pursue careers and higher education, as well as motivate those at risk for dropping out to stay in school, say TASC authors Andrea Magiera-Guy and Saskia Traill.

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