A longer school day may help students' math performance, according to an evaluation of the expanded learning time schools in New York City, New Orleans, and Baltimore after one year of operation.
The 11 total elementary and middle schools evaluated were part of the ExpandED pilot project of The After-School Corporation (TASC), which redesigned the school day with three additional hours of time. TASC, based in New York City, received funding for the pilot from the Wallace Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. (Wallace also underwrites coverage of expanded learning in Education Week.)
Community partners, such as AmeriCorps members, coaches, and artists, filled additional time at some of the schools, as did targeted, extra time for academics aimed at improving student performance in weaker subject areas.
The evaluation found students' math scores, attendance, and general attitudes improved in comparison to their peers at local nonexpanded learning schools. But not all ExpandED schools fared equally. According to the report, some schools did a much better job of communicating and engaging with parents and organizing staffing models than others. The report also recommends all the ExpandED schools could do a better job of sharing student academic data with education partners.
However, the authors conclude, many best-practice decisions need to be made at the school level, not "prescribed externally," and transformation does not happen overnight.
"Even with intensive advanced planning by principals, teachers, community partners, and families, changing the roles and responsibilities of faculty as well as the expectations and schedules of students and parents is an iterative process," they write. "Shared leadership and accountability requires partners to intentionally and continuously plan together, share student data and results, and engage in a constant feedback loop."
A five year evaluation of the ExpandED schools is currently being performed by Policy Studies Associates.