Expanding learning time, or ELT, in schools is a core strategy on the national education reform agenda as policymakers and educators recognize that the standard school calendar does not fit many students’ needs.
The majority of students in the US attend class on average for 6.5 hours per day, 180 days per year. For many students, especially those who are English language learners and those who begin the school year by learning below grade level, this is far from enough time.
By lengthening the school day, week, or year for all students, some schools with sizable minority and low-income student populations have seen a significant improvement in student achievement. All students, even those in the deepest levels of poverty, have access to traditional after-school activities like the arts and volunteer opportunities in schools that extend learning time.
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States And Districts Can Support High-quality Expanded Learning Time Programs
States and LEAs can use federal recovery funds to reward ELT programs that adhere to strict standards and give priority to underserved schools. The structures, supports, and professional development that LEAs or schools need to successfully implement these programs can also be provided by states and LEAs. States can help LEAs form partnerships with community-based organizations by, for instance, providing sample memorandums of understanding (MOUs) and identifying, screening, and classifying potential partners.
Expanded Learning Time Basics
655: the number of schools with extended hours in 36 states, more than a quarter of which are regular district public schools.
300: The minimum number of extra hours that educators believe schools should schedule to give students more time for learning and opportunities for extracurricular activities.
6 to 20 percent: depending on the staffing model, an increase in a school’s budget to add 30% more instructional time for students.
90 percent: the percentage of ELT schools that, according to a survey of close to 250 ELT schools, felt their longer day or year was crucial to achieving their educational objectives.
20 percent: the additional annual classroom hours that seasoned educators claim are necessary to successfully teach the four fundamental academic subjects of science, social studies, math, and English language arts.
Other Countries Are Racing Ahead In Education
197: when compared to the 180 days in the United States, the amount of time a middle school teacher spends teaching on average in Finland, Japan, and Korea each year.
10,000: the number of hours that experts believe it will take students to become experts. About 800 instructional hours are spent annually in the United States. schools, which means it would take 12.5 years for students to participate in 10,000 hours of schooling, given no loss of learning during the summer.
Students At Low-income Schools Are Being Left Behind
3,000: 20,000 words on average versus 20,000 words for kindergarteners from middle-class families in terms of vocabulary size.
When ninth graders enter high school in high poverty schools, roughly half are reading at the sixth or seventh grade level.
32 million: The number of words that have been exposed to children from welfare families (13 million) compared to those from professional families (45 million) by the time they are four. By the time they turn one (11.2 million), children from professional families will have heard almost as many words as those from welfare families by the time they turn four (13 million).
1.67: The amount of time, or about 100 seconds, that students in the third, fourth, and fifth grades spent learning explicit vocabulary on a daily basis in high-poverty schools.
Four: The maximum number of minutes per day that teachers in low-income institutions engaged their first-graders in informational texts that were rich in scholarly language and subject-specific vocabulary, frequently due to the lack of these resources.
English Language Learners Achieve When Given More Time
5 million: More than 10% of students enrolled in public schools in grades Pre-K through 12 are ELLs. They are mainly found in urban areas with high minority and low-income populations, and 80% of them speak Spanish as their first language.
5,000: Compared to English language learners, kindergarteners who speak native English have a greater number of words in their vocabulary.
71 and 74 percent: The percentage of English language learners who performed below basic on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading in the fourth and eighth grades, respectively
25 to 30 percent: the proportion of ELLs in New York who complete their high school education in four years or less, as opposed to 71% of non-ELLs.
38 to 44 percent: the proportion of English language learners (ELLs) in New York who complete high school after an additional one to two years of education.
74 percent: When they achieve English language proficiency and move out of the limited English proficient category, more ELL students in New York graduate from high school—a rate higher than the non-ELL rate of 71%. If ELLs had more learning time, results like these might be anticipated.
40: the number of states and the District of Columbia that claim to use pull-out English language instruction along with other English language development techniques. Because pull-out programs take ELL students out of the classroom for an average of 30 to 45 minutes each day, there are fewer opportunities and opportunities for ELLs to acquire core academic content. As a result, it is challenging for ELLs to keep up with their peers who speak native English.
Expanded Learning Time Is A High-impact Use Of Federal Recovery Funds
Many students’ needs have not been met by the school day and school year as they are typically designed, and they will not be met by COVID-19 learning disruptions, which will make the gaps even wider. However, learning can be effectively accelerated by strategies that place an emphasis on extended and enriched learning time.
When combined with high-quality elements, extended and enriched learning time effectively raises student engagement and achievement. Extended learning time (ELT) can take place before and after the regular school day, by strategically utilizing time spent in class, and during summer break and other scheduled breaks. A comprehensive community school strategy includes it as one of its four evidence-based pillars.
From early childhood through high school, ELT is a high-impact way to use federal recovery funds to speed up learning. LEAs and states must use a portion (at least 20% and 5%, respectively) of ARPA funds to implement evidence-based learning recovery interventions that respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs and address the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus on student subgroups. The ARPA funds allocated for learning recovery may be used for other purposes and be intertwined with funds from other sources. It is possible to support learning recovery with CRRSAA funds as well as other ARPA funds. The viability of these programs may be supported by federal funding streams provided by ESEA (for an example, see Table 7.1 in this report).
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Research Points To Key Elements Of Effective Expanded Learning Time Programs
States and LEAs can help ELT programs be successful by providing funding, more flexibility, or other supports and structures as necessary. The ELT program types discussed below can address learning recovery while satisfying ARPA’s evidence, responsiveness, and disproportionate impact requirements.
All grade levels have been found to benefit from a variety of summer programs, including those emphasizing academic learning, employment and career development, and social and emotional well-being. Research shows that effective, high-quality summer programs are characterized by:
- Responsive design: Programs include academic support as well as enrichment activities like art, sports, or science exploration and are designed to meet the needs of students and the community.
- Appropriate duration: Programs typically last at least 5 weeks and are long enough to have an impact. Multiple summers of participation in a program are more beneficial, which is made possible by federal relief funds.
- Stability: Programs guarantee that students will participate consistently and steadily and include a stable, qualified, and well-paid staff. Some districts are using partnerships with educator preparation programs to hire recent graduates, offering bonuses, and/or collaborating with community-based organizations to address summer staffing shortages.
After- And Out-of-school Programs
Research shows that effective, high-quality after-school and out-of-school programs are characterized by:
- Connection: Acceleration Academies, which take place during regular school breaks, and after-school programs both have connections to the work that students are doing in the classroom. Students are better able to understand the material they have been studying and prepare for the material they will encounter when school resumes thanks to this connection. Programs give young people chances to interact with adults and one another.
- Relevance: In order to connect to students’ real-world experience and community, after- and out-of-school programs may have more design and content flexibility than the typical school day. This is a proven strategy to make learning more engaging and effective.
- Partnerships: Programs frequently demonstrate effective collaborations between schools and local nonprofits.
High-quality tutoring is one of the more economical ways to encourage quick student learning, according to economists. Research shows that effective, high-quality tutoring programs are characterized by:
- Trained tutors: Instead of a group of varying, untrained volunteers, tutors are a group of people—teachers, paraprofessionals, college students, or others—who have been trained in specific tutoring techniques.
- High-quality materials: Tutors guide students through a progression of learning by using a carefully developed curriculum and frequent formative assessments.
- Consistency: Whether working with one student or a small group of students, tutors are consistent.
- Frequency: Within groups of no more than five students, tutoring takes place at least three days a week for at least 30 minutes.
- Integration: Whenever possible, tutoring takes place during the regular school day and schedule or frequently after school.
ELT programs should prioritize the social and emotional needs of students, who may be dealing with higher levels of anxiety, grief, and uncertainty about the future as a result of the pandemic, particularly in the wake of COVID-19.