Extending Learning Time for Disadvantaged Students - Volume 1 Summary of Promising Practices - 1995
A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
School consumes only a small part of any student's time. For many, the remainder of their time offers few paths to academic, social, and emotional growth. But schools and communities can work together to provide every child with more time to learn--and more time to develop the abilities that lead to successful citizenship.
In coordination with appropriately challenging curricula, thoughtful instruction, and sensible management, extended-time programs can improve student achievement. And for students most in need of supplemental assistance, extended-time programs can offer much more: the best of these programs establish safe, stimulating environments that inspire and guide learning far beyond the traditional school day, week, or year. These programs involve children, families, and communities in a concerted effort to prevent student failure and nurture student success.
This idea book describes promising strategies used by 14 programs to extend learning time for disadvantaged students in diverse settings, using volunteers and community-based professionals as well as classroom teachers. The approaches described here rely on a broad definition of learning time that includes traditional classroom instruction, community service, and extracurricular and cultural activities. The programs included here are just a few of many successful efforts to extend learning opportunities. This idea book for policymakers, and a companion volume for practitioners, are intended as resources for those who want to add to this growing number.
The success of extended-time programs for disadvantaged students depends on the decisions that educators and planners make in designing and implementing programs. Program success evolves from goals that specifically address students' needs. These goals promote high academic and behavioral standards and cultivate productive links between the student and the world beyond the classroom. Particularly promising practices include:
- Careful planning and design, including (1) clearly defined needs and goals; (2) determination of the best time of the day, week, or year to offer the program and of the amount of time to be added to students' learning opportunities; and (3) consideration of program costs.
- Links between the extended time and the regular academic program. Good extended-time programs connect the added time to regular school experiences so that students learn and succeed academically. These connections are made in three ways: (1) Regular teachers and principals refer children to the program and provide information on students' particular needs; (2) regular teachers staff the extended-time opportunities, increasing the programs' coordination and continuity with normal classroom activities; or (3) programs use textbooks and materials from the students' regular classes for extended-time tutoring and homework help sessions.
- A clear focus on using extended time effectively. Good extended-time programs use instructional practices that actively engage students' attention and commitment. These practices may include traditional classroom methods, such as individualized instruction and the use of both direct and indirect teaching, as well as organized recreational or cultural activities.
- A well-defined organization and management structure. As programs evolve, planners must develop structures for hiring and supervising staff, selecting students, monitoring performance, and guiding the program. The shape of these structures depends on whether programs are developed by schools, by districts, or in partnership with outside agencies or organizations.
- Parent and community involvement. Research shows that collaboration between schools, parents, and communities widens the pool of resources, expertise, and activities available to any program, giving disadvantaged students more options. Successful programs feature involvement by parents or the community, or both. In many cases, parents and other community members play an active role in planning, designing, or managing extended learning opportunities.
- A strong professional community. Professional staff development for the programs profiled in this idea book vary according to budgets and program goals. At a minimum, staff development offers an orientation to program goals and objectives, curriculum, and requirements. Other areas for staff development often include expansion of teachers' instructional repertoires, ideas for enrichment and hands-on activities, interpersonal skills, subject-matter expertise, cultural awareness, techniques for working with students with special needs, and student assessment.
- Cultural sensitivity. Many good programs make cultural sensitivity a priority that manifests itself in activities for students--such as bilingual instruction and cultural clubs and events--as well as in staff development. Some programs reach beyond the cultures of their own participants to the greater diversity of the community, through field trips, guest speakers, and special seminars.
- A continuous search for creative funding. Program planners must search for funding continuously and creatively, looking to both new and traditional sources of funding for support. Options include federal categorical programs, special funding from state departments of education, funds from private foundations and educational organizations, and support from community agencies and organizations.
- A willingness to resolve or work around obstacles. Extended-time programs for disadvantaged students face many challenges to planning and implementation, including problems with attendance, transportation, staffing, and safety during non-school hours. Good programs find ways to resolve or work around these obstacles. In particular, programs that have experienced long-term success appear to have solved the problems of reliable transportation and locating the program in a safe, central location.
- Thoughtful evaluation of program success. Success in school and beyond requires not only intellectual but also social and emotional growth. Several programs profiled here assess student progress not only by typical measures of academic achievement but also by outcomes such as level of self-esteem, leadership, and the ability to work effectively with others to solve problems.
Successful extended-time programs can motivate disadvantaged students and give them the knowledge they need to succeed in school and beyond. Often, such programs build links with students' regular school experiences, reinforcing particular skills needed in the classroom. To take advantage of this opportunity, Title I staff can:
- Encourage parents and their children to participate in community-based as well as school-based extended learning opportunities
- Facilitate coordination among existing programs
- Raise awareness among parents and community members about educational and other benefits of communitybased programs
[Using Time In New and Better Ways]