New York bets big on expanded learning time

The Center for American Progress (CAP) is out with a new report examining efforts underway in the state of New York to expand learning time for many more students in high-poverty, low-performing schools across the state.

According to CAP, New York is taking an approach that allows districts and schools to combine federal support through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers with a competitive state-run grant program in order to expand the learning day. The state grant – the New York Extended Learning Time Grant program – requires an increase of at least 25 percent in the school day or year for all students.  Extended learning time is easily misused, and without an intentional strategy can result in stagnant student performance.  The grant program aims to make the time as effective as possible with a series of requirements.

The focus of the additional time is not restricted to core academic subjects, but in fact must include enrichment activities – “a critical component to closing the opportunity gaps that are prevalent in low-income schools,” the CAP report noted. To meet the requirements of the grant, schools can work with community partners, an approach that builds off New York’s history of collaborating with community-based organizations to provide additional opportunities for students.

Certainly at Mass Insight, we believe strongly in the importance of engaging the community in a school’s reform efforts. Making a long-term commitment to children is a community-wide effort, and engaging with community stakeholders helps build urgency for and ensure the sustainability of the reforms. Developing a community strategy is one of three integrated pillars to maximize impact, provide seamless support and produce sustainable results in College Success Communities (CSC), our name for small high-school driven clusters of schools. Click here for more information on CSCs and Mass Insight’s three-pillar approach.

It will be interesting to see how this effort plays out in New York. The first round of grantees will be announced this year, according to the CAP report.

To read the full report released yesterday by CAP, click here.