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What About the 'Opportunity Gap'?

If you're looking for some interesting reading on expanded learning, check out this conversation on the Center for American Progress website.

Jeff Riley, the academic superintendent for middle and K-8 schools in Boston, tells the Center about the expanded schedule educators have put in place at Boston's Edwards Middle School. When the state's education department offered 26 schools the chance to add time to their days, Edwards adopted "a 'layer cake' approach where we took our traditional school day and kept it intact, and then added on an extra academic piece and an extra enrichment piece," Riley says. The staff at Edwards "made it one seamless day, so the kids knew that this wasn't an after-school program, this was just part of the school day."

Edwards, which Riley calls "arguably the lowest-performing middle school in Boston," now offers its students a football team, theatre arts, dancing, and chorus, as well as extra academics.

And, Riley adds (in a comment I found really interesting):

"..We provided our kids with enrichment opportunities that they otherwise wouldn't have had. We talk a lot about the achievement gap, but we don't talk a lot about the opportunity gap where kids in the suburbs may have access to a lot more opportunities than kids in the city whose parents sometimes work two or three jobs. And so we gave kids these opportunities, and I would say they were just as crucial as the academic time."

Finally, to learn more about Edwards and the Expanded Learning Time initiative in Massachusetts, check out this well-written piece by Education Week's Debra Viadero.

Is there an opportunity gap in your community? How are your schools addressing it?

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