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Report Examines Community Schools and Expanded Learning Opportunities

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By guest blogger Alyssa Morones

A new study reveals the mutually beneficial interaction between community schools and expanded learning opportunities and highlights best practices for meeting the needs of the students they aim to serve. 

The report, titled The Growing Convergence of Community Schools and Expanded Learning Opportunities, comes from the Institute for Education Leadership's Coalition for Community Schools, an alliance that advocates for community schools as a strategy to leverage resources to best meet the needs of children and families.

Community schools are formed through partnerships with community resources and focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and engagement. Their curricula are more personalized and emphasize real-world learning. The report says, "Community schools are one example of school and community partnerships that are taking hold in cities and districts."

The report found that extended learning opportunities are a core strategy for community school initiatives and that extended learning opportunities are best supported through structured school-community partnerships.

In examining these different strategies, the report provides an overview of best practices in implementing extended learning opportunities in community schools. It advises:

  • Community schools align with the school's core mission: For example, community schools can use extended learning opportunities to supplement learning opportunities, such as art or music, that may not fit into the normal school schedule because of time or funding.
  • Community-wide and school site leadership structures support a comprehensive extended learning opportunity strategy.
  • Quality is an important and shared responsibility across partners.
  • Community schools blend and sustain extended learning opportunity funding.
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