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Expanded-Learning Advice Offered States Granted NCLB Waivers

Twenty out of 35 states issued waivers from No Child Left Behind requirements can now use their 21st Century Community Learning Center funds to support both expanded-learning and after-school initiatives. A new brief from TASC (The After-School Corporation) recommends states think strategically before implementing new ELT models with the funds, relying on community partners for support.

As a bit of background, states that applied for waivers from NCLB were required to submit proposals for how they plan on improving student outcomes in lieu of meeting the federal law's benchmarks. For 20 of these states, expanded learning, or adding time to the school day and year to improve student outcomes, (and out-of-school efforts) spawned from 21st CCLC funds were included as strategies. But according to the brief from TASC, most of the 20 states that requested flexibility using their 21st CCLC funding have not formally hashed out how they plan on using the money in new ways to support expanded learning.

TASC offers some suggestions for states to consider as they move forward using their 21st CCLC for expanded learning:

1. Help facilitate the collaboration process among educators, families, and communities to support improved outcomes for students.
2. Ensure grantees have active and meaningful school and community partnerships.
3. Promote the alignment of ELT models to 21st CCLC goals of providing new and enriching experiences to students rather than "more of the same."
4. Encourage adoption of research-backed best practices in ELT and after-school programs receiving funds.
5. Identify other public-funding sources states can use in addition to 21st CCLC to scale their ELT and OST initiatives to serve more students.

"[21st CCLC] funds can enable schools and community partners to work together to revolutionize the school day by re-engineering staffing, curriculum, and instruction to give students the skills to excel in school and careers," the brief states.

As most of you know, the 21st CCLC program awards formula grants to states that redistribute the money to schools and community organizations through competitions to help support expanded learning and out-of-school-time opportunities. As of 2011, the program supported 8,900 centers and sites that provide academics, enrichment, and recreation during nonschool hours to 1.5 million underserved students.


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