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School Improvement Strategies: Investing in Expanded Learning Time Jennifer Davis May 18, 2009 Center for American Progress The Expanded Learning Time Model Is One Key Time and Learning Reform Strategy Targeted Intervention for Some Students Summer Learning Programs

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School Improvement Strategies:

Investing in Expanded Learning Time

Jennifer Davis

May 18, 2009

Center for American Progress

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The Expanded Learning Time Model Is One Key Time and Learning Reform Strategy

Targeted Intervention for Some Students

Summer Learning Programs

Time and Learning Field

After School Programs

Expanded Learning Time Schools

Building off the Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time model, the National Center on Time & Learning has developed a scalable and replicable model for converting traditional elementary and middle schools into Expanded Learning Time Schools.

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“Time” now at the forefront of education reform dialogue Learning Reform Strategy

Policy leaders are highly focused on 4 core concerns – all underscore the need for more learning time

A Critical Juncture in the Movement to Expand Learning Time

Unrelenting Achievement Gap

Need to Improve Teacher Quality

Expanded Learning Time Schools

Narrowing of the Curriculum

International Competitiveness

Bottom line: Schools, as they are currently structured, are not meeting the needs of students, particularly those living in poverty.

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Narrowing the Curriculum Learning Reform Strategy

  • As schools work to meet the benchmarks established by NCLB they have increased time for English Language Arts and Math at the expense of other subjects.

  • Time spent on science, social studies, art, music and PE has been cut by one-third since the start of NCLB.

  • In today’s knowledge-based economy, students need more expanded learning opportunities, not fewer.

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Three of the Most Successful Charter School Networks in the U.S. Consider “More Time” a Core Design Element

  • KIPP Academy

  • 66 Schools in 19 states serving 16,000 students

  • Achievement First

  • 15 Schools, 3,700 students in CT and NY (e.g. Amistad Academy, New Haven)

  • Uncommon Schools

  • 11 Schools serving 10,000 low-income students in NY and NJ (e.g. North Star Academy, Newark)

Comparison of Instructional Time Per Year

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Massachusetts District Schools

Expanded Learning Time Initiative:

First State Policy Initiative To Redesign School Schedules Adding At Least 300 Hours For All Students In Participating Schools

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Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time Initiative District Schools

Launched in 2005, schools redesign their day to add at least 300 hours for academics, enrichment and teacher development. State funds the program at $1,300 per student.

30 additional schools have submitted ELT redesign proposals to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.

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ELT is Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Middle Grade Students

This graph tracks the changes in the gap between an ELT school’s performance for students in grades 6-8 and the state’s performance for these same students during the two years of ELT implementation. As measured by the state’s Composite Performance Index, six of the seven schools narrowed their gap with the state in math (green region), and five of the seven schools also narrowed the gap in English Language Arts (ELA). One school lagged slightly behind the state in math and ELA (red region).




These 5 ELT schools narrowed the achievement gap with the state in English andmath














This ELT school narrowed the achievement gap with the state in math


English Language Arts

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How Teachers Perceive Impact of StudentsExpanded Learning Time

Teachers at Expanded Learning Time schools believe they have sufficient time to complete the curriculum and meet the needs of all students compared to teachers in traditional schools across the state.

Percent of Teachers Agreeing

Source: MassTeLLS, 2009


Note:The Massachusetts Teaching, Learning and Leading Survey: Creating Conditions Where Teachers Stay and Teachers Thrive was released on February 24, 2009 to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The final report of the Mass TeLLS initiative analyzes teaching conditions in the Commonwealth, documents connections to student achievement and future employment plans, and examines how educators view conditions differently.


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More than 150 organizations partner with ELT schools to broaden opportunities for Massachusetts students

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National Momentum broaden opportunities for Massachusetts students

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National Momentum: broaden opportunities for Massachusetts studentsPolicymakers across the country are exploring strategies to add more time for learning

Massachusetts ELT initiative launched in 2005 (26 schools and 13,500 children participating);

Leaders in Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Alabama and Hawaii have initiatives under development;

New York’s “Contracts for Excellence” has “Longer School Day Measures” as one of six allowable uses of the new state funds available through fiscal equity court case;

Leaders in California, Delaware, Ohio, Maryland, Minnesota, and Tennessee are exploring options for adding school time; and

Urban districts, including Pittsburgh, Boston, Miami, New York, Chicago, Omaha and New Orleans are adding more time for learning in targeted schools; and

2/3 of charter schools in America have expanded schedules.

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The National Center on Time & Learning’s Expanded Learning Time (ELT) Model

  • School-Level Design Principles

  • Significantly More School Time: at least 300 more hours per year (e.g. 2 hrs/day).

  • All Students Participate

  • Balanced Use of Expanded Time: Redesign adds time for: (1) core academics; (2) enrichment; and (3) teacher planning and professional development.

  • Redesign Planning Process: Small school redesign teams -including teachers, administrators, union representatives, school partners and parents – create data-driven redesign plans.

  • Partners to Expand Opportunities: Schools encouraged to partner with community orgs, businesses, higher ed. institutions, art and cultural orgs, and health institutions to expand opportunities for students.

  • Policy-Level Design Principles

  • Voluntary School Participation

  • Technical Assistance for Redesign and Implementation

  • Public Financing: Implementation funded with public money, ideally through a state policy framework, to ensure future sustainability and connections to the broader reform agenda.

  • Per Child Allocation: Figure depends on local factors and the amount of added time (MA = $1,300/student.)

  • Evaluation and Continuous Improvement: Constant review of data to ensure continuous improvement and learning.

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Obama Administration Leading National Call for More Learning Time

“We can no longer afford an academic calendar designed when America was a nation of farmers… That calendar may have once made sense, but today, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”

- President Barack Obama, March 9, 2009

Expanded Learning Time helps to address the priority areas the Obama Administration has identified for


  • Adopting rigorous college-and career ready standards and high-quality assessments: additional school time can help students meet these higher standards and give schools the time necessary to implement the changes needed (e.g. add algebra to all 8th grade curriculums).

  • Establishing data systems and using data for improvement: Administrators and teachers need more time to analyze and apply data to drive instructional changes.

  • Increasing teacher effectiveness:  Teachers identify “time” as the most important teaching condition for promoting students learning and believe the current school schedule is inadequate to complete the curriculum and meet their students’ needs. 

  • Turning around the lowest-performing schools and improving results for all students:  The Expanded Learning Time redesign process helps to develop a new vision and schedule to promote school and student success—one focused on maximizing time to improve student achievement and enable a well-rounded, engaged educational experience.

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Obama Administration Leading National Call for More Learning Time

“I think our school day is too short, our week is too short, our year is too short.”

- Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, January 2009 Senate Confirmation Hearing

  • Several ARRA Funds Can Support ELT Initiatives

    • Title I

    • School Improvement (for eligible schools)

    • Local Innovation Fund (guidelines under development)

    • Race to the Top (guidelines under development)

  • Future Federal Policy Opportunities to Expand ELT Initiatives:

    • TIME Act

    • ESEA Reauthorization

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Thank You Time

For more information contact:

Jennifer Davis, President:

To learn more about our work, visit us at: