Poor kids need more quality learning opportunities if we want them to be as “college and career ready” as their more affluent peers. This isn’t a new or breakthrough idea–it’s a simple fact backed by plenty of research on learning and achievement. Over the past several years I’ve spent a fair amount of effort looking into extended school time aka expanded learning time (ELT) as a strategy to provide more learning for the kids who need it the most. I’ve tried to look at the issue with scrutiny, pointing out that all or any extra time is not necessarily good in schools with very low capacity (if they can’t provide strong and engaging instruction for 6.5 hours, can they do it for 8 or 9 hours?).
Given that everyone seems to agree that time will solve all problems (if we all only had that extra hour in the day…) I don’t really mind being the one to say “it’s not so simple…” But I’ve done this because I believe expanding learning opportunities is one of the most important things we can do for young people and I want extended time efforts to be successful and lasting. So I’m obliged to clarify today’s quote in the Washington Post, which has me saying, simply, that ELT has no effect on a whole range of student outcomes. I wrote that in a blog post while describing the results of a study on Massachusetts’ extended school time efforts. That blog post goes on to consider the limits of that early study (it’s not the final word on ELT), to describe what I think it will take to make extended time work (more attention to the people who will staff the time and to the partnerships that are necessary to make extended school hours really work for the school and community) and to be realistic about the burden that districts face (wanting more time but having less money). DC cannot expect to just add time and stir, and 30 minutes a day is unlikely to be enough to close the gaps that keep widening throughout the year and especially over the summer. But if the right kinds of staffing structures and partnerships are created– where community-based organizations, universities, and businesses are integrated into school-based learning–longer hours and an extended year should absolutely be part of DC’s education plan.
- Higher Education
- K-12 Education