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Support Rises for Expanded Learning

More than 80 percent of the respondents in a recent survey said more time in school could help improve students' college and career readiness, according to a new report from the National Center on Time & Learning and the Education Commission of the States.

Findings from the survey, which sampled 1,000-plus American adults, are included in the report that examines the current and recent federal, state, and district expanded learning policies and developments. Chicago's shift to longer school days districtwide and federal School Improvement Grants that can be used for expanded learning at the local level are two such examples the report cites to highlight a growing interest in using ELT as a strategy for school reform.

The report also provides an extensive list of pro-ELT state policies that have emerged within the past few years. A number of the legislative actions at the state level have taken place in conjunction with other changes to education policies, such as allowing existing funding streams be used for expanded learning or reining in collective bargaining. Some are tied to policies that encourage overall school redesign, with added time as one feature.

A few state policy highlights:

  • Iowa and North Carolina's state commissions that have examined ELT as a state education reform.
  • The Time Collaborative, a group of five states that have pledged to support expanded learning efforts in their respective states. (I wrote a story on this in December.)
  • New York's recently authorized $20 million competitive-grant program for ELT and school redesign.

There is also a list of policy recommendations for federal, state, and local leaders. These include: focusing on high-poverty students, using expanded learning as part of larger school improvement efforts, exploring cost-effective ways to add time, and using successful strategies from ELT schools on how to restructure the school day.

"[The] growing differential among children in learning outside the current school day and year means that, more than ever, schools operate as the primary institution through which our country can hope to equalize opportunity, and, in turn, expanding and strengthening the education program at high-poverty schools has become a critical lever to achieve such equity," the report says.

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