By Jen Rinehart
On Monday, the National Center for Time & Learning released a new report, Mapping the Field: A Report on Expanded-Time Schools in America. The release event also featured the announcement of the TIME Collaborative, an initiative funded by the Ford Foundation. The report maps the expanded-time movement by providing details on the 1,002 schools—approximately 1 percent of all schools—that are expanding time in this country. Among the details from the report:
- 60% of expanded-time schools are charter schools. Nationally, charter schools comprise just 5% of all schools.
- Nearly three-quarters (72%) of expanded-time schools are in urban areas.
- On average, expanded-time schools are providing 66 minutes more time per day than the national comparison.
- Few schools are embracing a longer school year. The average number of additional days is 4.
- More than three-quarters (76%) of the non-charter schools began offering an expanded-time schedule within the last 3 years.
- 7 in 10 expanded-time schools are start-ups. Only 28% are schools that converted from a traditional schedule.
Yesterday the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) held a press conference in Washington, D.C., to announce that about 40 public schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will significantly expand and redesign their school calendars starting in 2013 in an effort to help close the opportunity gap.
- Colorado: Denver, Boulder Valley, Jefferson County, Adams 50
- Connecticut: East Hartford, Meriden, New London
- Massachusetts: Fall River, Lawrence
- New York: Rochester
- Tennessee: Achievement School District (Memphis) and Metro Nashville
According to the Ford Foundation’s press release, community organizations, teachers unions and local businesses will play a key role in the collaborative effort, helping the schools to rethink their schedules and find creative ways to cost-effectively add learning time. Additionally, the school planning teams are encouraged to develop an expanded-time schedule that provides a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum for all students; offers individualized help for students who are struggling; uses data and technology to inform and improve instruction; improves collaboration among teachers; provides enrichment opportunities in the arts, music and other areas critical to development; and promotes a culture of high achievement.
Back on Oct. 20, 2011, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed their version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bill with a number of amendments. Now, nearly one full year later, the committee officially filed the bill and released accompanying report language that provides additional information on the legislative intent. Significant changes were made to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative as part of the ESEA bill. The report language raises new questions about the impact of the legislation on the ability of local school-community partnerships to utilize federal funds to support quality afterschool and summer learning programs, and appears to scale back previous improvements made to the legislation. It should be noted that this ESEA reauthorization bill will not come before the full Senate in the remaining days of the 112th Congress so, consequently, the ESEA reauthorization process will need to restart again next year.
- Language that prevents a federal preference or priority on which approach (afterschool, summer learning, expanded learning for some students, expanded learning for all students) will be used.
- A stronger requirement for partnerships with community-based organizations, with only a narrow exception for rural communities for whom the requirement would be a significant hardship.
- Clarity of existing language to ensure that either the local education agencies (LEAs) or nonprofit partners can be the lead fiscal agent on 21st CCLC grants.
- New language to ensure that effective and innovative approaches to programs can be utilized by grantees.
In late July, House and Senate leadership announced a deal on a six-month Continuing Resolution (CR) at a funding level of $1.047 trillion—the level set for FY2013 in the Budget Control Act (BCA) that passed last summer. With August recess coming to a close today, more information on the CR was released yesterday evening, bringing good news for afterschool and education advocates: due to a variety of factors, the FY2013 CR reflects an across-the-board increase of 0.612 percent. For the Department of Education, that is an aggregate increase of $416.8 million. For 21st CCLC, the increase would be approximately $705,000, allowing an additional 705 students to be served in the next school year. The CR would fund the federal government through March 27, 2013.
Under the CR, all programs will operate under the same terms and conditions as in the FY2012 bills, so no new programs will start and no programs will be eliminated. While there are several changes addressed by the CR, the bill does not include the 21st CCLC language allowing funds to support a longer school day or school year that was added in the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) spending bill that passed the Appropriations Committee last summer. The House LHHS spending bill did not include that language either.
The CR is scheduled to go to the House Rules Committee tomorrow afternoon and will likely be voted on by the full House this Thursday. Assuming it passes the House, the Senate will move to take up the measure on Thursday, but may not vote on passage until next week on Wednesday as the House and Senate are not in session next Monday and Tuesday.
Late last week seven additional states, Puerto Rico and the Bureau of Indian Education submitted requests to the Department of Education seeking waivers from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Based on the waiver requests, four states (Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire and West Virginia) did not check the box for the optional 11th waiver that allows 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funds to be used to lengthen the school day, week or year. Alabama, Hawaii and North Dakota chose to opt-in to the 11th waiver. Waiver requests from Puerto Rico and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are not yet publicly available. While the latest waiver requests have not yet been approved, in all, 20 out of 32 states receiving waivers have checked the 21st CCLC box; 12 states along with Washington, D.C., have not. The six states that have not yet requested a waiver include: Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont (request withdrawn) and Wyoming.
Given the potentially high cost of adding time to the school day, the optional 21st CCLC waiver provision could result in fewer communities having access to quality out-of-school programs, enlarging the already significant unmet demand for quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs across the country. The department initiated the waiver process last fall to give states flexibility from some of the mandates of the 10-year-old NCLB law in exchange for states implementing standards and accountability reforms. Guidance on how states may implement the 21st CCLC waiver has been slow to come, but the Department of Education did issue language clarifying that:
"a state must retain existing 21st CCLC requirements prioritizing school-community partnerships; and the programming provided through a longer school day, week, or year, must not be ‘more of the same’ but instead should involve careful planning by the eligible entity to ensure that the programs or activities will be used to improve student achievement and ensure a well-rounded education that prepares students for college and careers.”
These days, the call to increase funding for extended school day and extended school year models is growing louder, but a recent Child Trends’ report, “Expanding Time for Learning Both Inside and Outside the Classroom: A Review of the Evidence Base,” questions the strength of the existing evidence base for both models, advising care and thoroughness when deciding to implement and/or fund these programs.
At first, it might seem curious that a paper reviewing almost 150 evaluations of extended school day models (ESD), extended school year models (ESY) and expanded leaning opportunity programs (ELO or afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs) reaches the conclusion that more research is needed.
But it’s true. A key finding from the report is that despite the number of existing evaluations on extended learning time models, “more rigorous and higher quality implementation and outcomes evaluations are needed for all types of extended learning time models.” I can’t agree more.
The report discusses that the existing body of research for ESD models is “far from conclusive,” research surrounding ESY models makes it “difficult to make conclusive statements about the effectiveness about these initiatives,” and despite “more rigorous, high-quality evaluations” of ELO programs, additional research—randomized experimental, implementation and larger-scale—is needed.
When examining research on ESD and ESY programs, the report finds that there are studies that associate positive academic gains with both types of programs, especially among students who are most at risk of failing or dropping out of school. However, it also cautions that—in addition to the shaky evidence base—a majority of studies do not establish that academic gains were solely attributable to ESD and ESY programs; there may be diminishing returns from students as the length of the school day increases; and it is quality, the use of time, and implementation that results in improved outcomes, not time alone. It’s also important to note that several of the ESD and ESY studies included in the report had non-significant or negative findings and the report’s conclusions on the Massachusetts ESD model were similar to concerns raised previously in Afterschool Snack.
Last week six more states and the District of Columbia were granted waivers from certain provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, bringing the total to 32 states—plus D.C.—that have been granted this flexibility. Five more state applications are under review by the Department of Education, and the remaining states have until September 6 to submit an application. Of the six states granted waivers last week, Arizona, Michigan, South Carolina, and D.C. did not check the box for the optional 11th waiver that allows 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funds to be used to lengthen the school day, week or year. Kansas, Mississippi and Oregon, however, chose to opt-in to the 11th waiver. In all, 20 out of 32 states receiving waivers have checked the 21st CCLC box; 12 states along with D.C. have not.
Given the potentially high cost of adding time to the school day, the optional 21st CCLC waiver provision could result in fewer communities having access to quality out-of-school programs, enlarging the already significant unmet demand for quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs across the country. The department initiated the waiver process last fall to give states flexibility from some of the mandates of the 10-year-old NCLB law in exchange for states implementing standards and accountability reforms.
a state must retain existing 21st CCLC requirements prioritizing school-community partnerships; and the “programming provided through a longer school day, week, or year, must not be ‘more of the same’ but instead should involve careful planning by the eligible entity to ensure that the programs or activities will be used to improve student achievement and ensure a well-rounded education that prepares students for college and careers.”
- $2.3 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is a $25 million increase from last year’s level.
- $712 million for the Community Services Block Grant (HHS), which is level funded from last year and $332 million above the president’s budget request.
- $15 billion for the Title I Program at the Department of Education for basic grants to local school districts that help all children become proficient in reading and math. This is level funded at last year’s level.
- $60 million for Promise Neighborhoods, level funded from last year.
- $271 million for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support the National Senior Volunteer Programs. This represents a cut of about $800 million to CNCS resulting in the elimination of the AmeriCorps and VISTA programs.