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
Using Time In New and Better Ways
The rationale for extending the time available for learning is based on the relationship between instructional time and achievement for disadvantaged students. Research and case studies of extended learning-time strategies for disadvantaged students have indicated that increased instructional time might be especially beneficial for those low-achieving students who might need more time than typically available to master specific skills or acquire the thinking skills necessary to function effectively in the regular classroom. Also, extended learning opportunities may confer special benefits on children from low-income families who lack the resources that their more affluent counterparts can spend on improving the quality of their non-school time.
However, the National Education Commission on Time and Learning1 found that teachers and principals perceive the futility of adding extra instructional time for students without ensuring that the added time is used effectively.2 The Commission's 1994 report recommends that state and local boards of education work with schools to use time in new and better ways. This recommendation is consistent with earlier research that concluded that simple increases in the school day or year, without corresponding reform in the quality of instruction, would have only a modest effect, if any, on student achievement.
Other research has explored promising instructional practices such as heterogeneous (mixed-age and/or mixed-ability) grouping, cooperative learning groups, innovative scheduling, and the use of technology. Still other research focuses on effective practices associated with activities that occur outside the traditional classroom or school, and supports the idea that the way in which students use their time during non-school hours can have consequences for their success in and out of the classroom. One researcher concluded that children's success or failure in school is determined by the amount of time they engage in constructive learning activities. This work found that high achievers more often engaged not only in activities such as homework, tutorials, reading, writing, and verbal communication but also internships and apprenticeships, problem solving and decision making, interactions with caring adults during non-school hours, organized youth activities, and cultural events.
With these findings in mind, this idea book draws on programs that include an array of effective strategies. Most programs emphasize academic enrichment as a way to ensure learning. In order to motivate students, these programs do not simply replicate what is offered during the regular school day--they build on it. Several programs include activities that help students develop citizenship skills and learn about and contribute to their local communities.
A Resource For Policymakers
Designed to improve the academic performance of low-achieving students in low-income schools, Title I (formerly Chapter 1)3 is the largest federal program supporting elementary and secondary education. Recent national studies of Title I have recommended ways to use Title I resources for improving the educational prospects of disadvantaged children and helping meet national education goals for all students and schools.4 These recommendations include providing incentives for programs that extend learning time and requiring districts to use at least a minimum percentage of their Title I grants for these programs--or at least to offer information and assistance for this purpose. Further, the National Education Commission on Time and Learning recently recommended keeping schools open longer to meet the needs of all children and communities.
Extending learning time for Title I students is a priority because the extra instruction provided by Title I during the regular school day averages only about 30 minutes--and the actual instructional time is probably less, because time is lost during transitions between locations or activities. Also, nearly three quarters of classroom teachers report that students miss some regular instruction while participating in Title I. In fact, the average Title I program may only modestly increase the total amount of time that students receive instruction in reading and mathematics--contributing only about 10 additional minutes of academic instruction each day.
As of 1990-91, few districts reported offering extended-time programs for Title I students; only 9 percent of school districts offered Title I services before or after school or on weekends, and 15 percent reported offering summer programs. In reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Congress encourages schools to increase the amount and quality of instructional time for disadvantaged students.
This idea book is intended as a resource for policymakers who want to explore opportunities to extend learning time beyond the regular school day, week, and/or year. It draws on promising strategies used by 14 programs to extend learning time for disadvantaged students, including homeless or migrant students and those who live in public housing projects. The programs include those in private and public schools; for elementary and secondary students; and in urban, suburban, and rural settings across the United States. Collectively, the programs serve students of diverse racial and ethnic heritage. A companion volume for practitioners includes in-depth profiles of the 14 extended-time programs.
Although all 14 programs serve disadvantaged students, they are not all funded by Title I, and some do not meet all of the legislative requirements for the Title I program. For example, a Title I-funded program could not restrict access only to homeless children, as does the Education Program for Homeless Children and Youth in North Dakota. We draw on a few programs that serve special or restricted populations because they offer useful strategies for serving disadvantaged populations or for avoiding implementation problems with extended-time programs in poor, inner-city neighborhoods. In fact, extended-time programs very often are designed to target specific populations of students who have been identified as especially at risk of school failure. And--although the programs discussed here generally have strong connections to the regular academic program--in many cases extended-time programs exist because the regular school program does not meet the varied needs of these special populations.
This idea book presents extended-learning strategies that work in diverse settings and rely on volunteers and community-based professionals as well as teachers. Many programs also depend on communities for financial support and materials, in ways that might stretch the dollars available to local Title I programs. The programs use a broad definition of learning time that includes traditional classroom instruction as well as community service and extracurricular or cultural activities.
Despite their potential to benefit students, opportunities for extended-learning time are not common. Schools may avoid such programs because they prefer not to attempt significant change, partnerships between schools and other program sponsors can be hard to establish, the rigid bureaucracy of some school district administrations can act as a deterrent, and logistical requirements can act as barriers. The programs described in this book are going against the tide, but they show that these approaches can succeed.
The Extended-Time Programs Described
These extended-time programs were selected on the basis of three criteria. First, the programs had to actually extend instructional or learning time for students beyond the amount of time required in the school day, week, or year. For before- and after-school programs, we included only those that added at least one hour a week; no time restrictions applied for summer, intersession, or weekend programs. Second, the profiled programs had to serve highly disadvantaged populations, because these children most need additional help to succeed in school and beyond. Third, selected programs had to show quantifiable or anecdotal evidence of success and to have been identified as particularly promising by local, regional, or national education experts or studies.
In This Idea Book
Most of the programs have operated for at least two years. Many are established programs that have worked out the kinks in their operations and offer evidence of success. In addition, we also selected newer programs because the difficult logistical problems associated with planning and implementation, as well as possible solutions, were fresh in the minds of their organizers. Below we briefly describe each of the extended-time programs used to develop this idea book.
- ASPIRA After-school and Summer Programs and Clubs, Aspira Association, Inc.: Chicago, Illinois. ASPIRA Associ-ation, Inc., is a national organization that promotes education and leadership development for Hispanic youth. More than 13,000 students nationally are involved in ASPIRA through after-school and summer programs or clubs. Programs address local needs, including school dropout and teen pregnancy prevention, leadership development, and AIDS awareness. ASPIRA's Chicago program provides after-school and summer programs at three schools, targeting math and science education for middle school students. The program's goal is to connect students with enriching academic and social opportunities.
- Title I Summer Program for Private School Children: Beaverton, Oregon. More than 50 Title I-eligible students from nonpublic elementary schools enroll each summer in a four- to five-week reading program sponsored by the Beaverton Title I program. Thematic studies provide a framework for reading and writing activities that improve student attitudes and achievement and encourage parent participation in education. The summer school targets students in grades 1-8 who have difficulty reading, as well as their parents, who often have little confidence in their ability to help. The program's goals are to stimulate higher-order thinking skills, overall reading competence, and social skills, and to engage parents in supporting student learning.
- Educational Program for Homeless Children and Youth: Devil's Lake, North Dakota. The Educational Program for Homeless Children and Youth, administered by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, provides tutoring, homework assistance, and recreational activities to homeless children. The program exists at nine sites, three of which are school districts. The remaining six programs are housed in community-based organizations and centers, including a YWCA, an agency that targets troubled adolescents, and a resource center for abused adults. The sites provide tutoring several times a week, after school, or in the evening. The Devil's Lake school district also runs summer programs for elementary students that provide counseling services and academic assistance. That 12-week program, selected for this idea book, is run by the school district and by an agency that serves troubled families.
- Extended-day Kindergarten, Florence School District One: Florence County, South Carolina. Florence School District One began its extended-day Title I kindergarten program in 1973. The program serves 240 students a year in four elementary schools with Title I schoolwide projects. Students whose scores on a skills checklist indicate a need for additional work on reading receive first priority in enrollment. The program focuses on improving cognitive, motor, and social skills needed to succeed in first grade, with a particular emphasis on early literacy development, including listening, speaking, and language skills. Students receive more than 630 extra hours of instruction a year and are evaluated with district-created assessment tools.
- After-school, Weekend, and Summer Kids Crew Programs, Brooklyn Children's Museum: Brooklyn, New York. Kids Crew is one segment of a community-oriented outreach program for at-risk neighborhood youth sponsored by the Brooklyn Children's Museum. The museum was one of the first in the country to encourage children to attend without their parents, and the outreach program evolved from that policy. The outreach program tries to build "enlightenment, responsibility, and achievement" in students through cultural education; mentoring of children by teenagers and of teens by adults; and career training. Kids Crew offers after-school, weekend, and summer programs to children between the ages of 7 and 12; structured activities include homework help sessions, story-telling, art classes, and off-site study trips. The sessions focus on enhancing children's literacy and are organized around monthly themes inspired by the museum's exhibits, galleries, and collection. Students who regularly attend programs and exhibit enthusiasm and a sense of responsibility may become volunteers or, as teenagers, paid interns.
- Public Housing Development After-school Study Centers, Omaha Housing Authority and Omaha Public Schools: Omaha, Nebraska. In 1986, the Omaha Housing Authority and the Omaha Public Schools formed a partnership to help public housing residents gain economic and social independence and to reduce the high dropout rate among area teenagers. The partnership established study centers at four public housing developments, where volunteers provide individualized tutoring to students twice a week after school. Three of the centers also have computers and printers, donated by local businesses and foundations, which students use for special projects.
- Saturday School, Raising Hispanic Academic Achievement, Inc.: Silver Spring, Maryland. Raising Hispanic Academic Achievement, located at a high school, is a Saturday program in which volunteers from high schools, universities, and various professions tutor students in math, science, and English. The program, designed to increase the number of Hispanic students who graduate from high school prepared to pursue a career in math or science, emphasizes individualized instruction and self-esteem building. The program also uses Total Quality Management (TQM) techniques to build leadership skills in participants. All student tutors are volunteers, but those who help manage other tutors receive college tuition reimbursement.
- Year-round Education with Intersession Programs, Socorro Independent School District: El Paso, Texas. In 1990, the Socorro Independent School District began phasing in year-round education with intersession programs to improve academic achievement and better serve a rapidly increasing population. Every school now follows a schedule of 60 weekdays on, 20 weekdays off. Intersession activities occur during the first two weeks of each month-long break. Academic programs focus on tutoring, acceleration, and enrichment activities that use thematic, whole-language approaches; the shorter breaks between courses decrease the loss of English skills by many students with limited English proficiency. Participation in inter-sessions is voluntary, but students who have failed or fallen behind are encouraged to attend. About 33 percent--and in some cases as many as 70 percent--of all students participate in intersession programs. Most schools follow multi-track schedules to serve larger numbers of students.
- Summer Enhancement Program, Charleston County Public Schools: Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston's six-week, science-based summer enhancement program has helped at-risk students in grades K-5 maintain and improve their skills in reading, writing, and mathematics since 1989. The program targets at-risk, Title I students who pass their classes but would benefit from a summer enrichment program. The program has two goals: (1) to maintain and improve students' basic skills through experiential learning activities in science-based thematic units, and (2) to improve student attitudes toward school and learning.
- The Summer Institute for At-risk Migrant Students, Florida Department of Education: Tallahassee, Florida. The Summer Institute for At-risk Migrant Students, a residential program sponsored by the Florida Department of Education, provides six weeks of intensive coursework and tutoring for 330 to 350 students. The institute, held at three Florida universities, targets middle and high school students and dropouts. Its goal is to help migrant students compensate for absences and partial credits, stay in school, and obtain a high school diploma. Participants work with guidance counselors to develop individualized goals for the summer, typically focusing on completing a specific credit toward promotion or graduation, or on remediation in reading, math, and other subjects.
- Summer Program for At-risk Students: South Bend, Indiana. This five-week, summer Title I Migrant Education project uses a theme-based, interdisciplinary curriculum to help more than 500 students in grades pre-K-10 succeed in the regular school program, attain grade-level proficiency, and improve their academic achievement in basic and advanced skills. The program, which targets students who are migrant or nonnative English speakers, emphasizes geography, science, the arts, media, and technology. The themes, chosen by students and the project director, provide a focus for computer labs, library research, and journal writing.
- Total Action Against Poverty (TAP), Summer Youth Employment Program: Roanoke, Virginia. The Summer Youth Employment Program is one of more than 30 programs coordinated by Total Action Against Poverty, a community action agency located in Roanoke. All of the programs focus on a common theme: helping low-income individuals achieve self-sufficiency through education and training. The Summer Youth Employment Program, funded through the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), operates at several sites in Virginia. In 1993, the Roanoke program served 190 youth between the ages of 14 and 21. Students may participate in academic or work portions, or both. The academic program offers six to eight weeks of basic remedial classes, Monday through Friday mornings, for 25 hours a week with a minimum of 90 hours over the course of the summer. The work program places students with nonprofit employers in the afternoons for 30 to 40 hours a week.
- Teen Outreach Program (TOP), Association of Junior Leagues International, Tuolumne County Public Schools: Sonora, California. The Teen Outreach Program is a national dropout and teen pregnancy prevention effort sponsored by the Association of Junior Leagues International, with community sponsors at each site. The key components are (1) classroom group exercises centered around a Life Options curriculum, (2) a strong relationship between students and facilitators, and (3) a community service commitment. The format varies among sites, but the program typically adds two hours a week during the school year and focuses on helping participants develop a positive self-image, concrete life management skills, and future goals. In 1993-94, the program reached 114 classroom sites in 35 cities, including several in the Tuolumne County Public Schools.
- Before- and After-school Program, Yuk Yau Child Development Center: Oakland, California. The Yuk Yau Child Development Center, administered by the Oakland Unified School District, offers three programs: before- and after-school programming for K-3 students at a nearby elementary school, a full-day preschool program, and a prekindergarten program for three hours a day. The preschool and prekindergarten programs are similar in philosophy and curriculum, but the preschool program's primary goal is to provide subsidized childcare for parents who are employed or training for employment. The prekindergarten program's goal is to provide one year of preschool education to children from any low-income family. The center is open 10 hours a day, Monday through Friday, and provides services during the summer, on holidays, and on teacher in-service days. Most students who participate before and/or after school also participate in the summer program. Yuk Yau focuses on developmentally appropriate activities, language arts, and multicultural activities with the goal of preparing Asian children for success in school and full participation in American society.
Overview Of The Report
This report has three chapters. First, we present the rationale for extended-time programs, drawing on research on the relationship between time and achievement for disadvantaged students. We also discuss the background and purpose of this idea book, the criteria for selecting the extended-time programs described here, and provide brief descriptions of these programs. The second chapter identifies promising practices associated with these programs and highlights challenges that planners face and the solutions that some have found. In the third chapter we draw conclusions about extending learning time for disadvantaged students.
1Authorized by Title I of P.L. 102-62, the Education Council Act of 1991, the Commission was formed to examine the quality and adequacy of the study and learning time of elementary and secondary students in the United States, including the length of the school day and year, the extent and role of homework, the use of time for academic subjects, year-round professional opportunities for teachers, and the use of school facilities for extended learning programs.
2Presentation by Milton Goldberg, Executive Director of the National Education Commission on Time and Learning, March 19, 1994, at the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C.
3 On October 20, 1994, the President signed into law the Pub. L. 103-382, the Improving America's Schools Act (IASA) of 1994, amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The IASA reauthorized--for a five-year period--programs under Chapter 1 of Title I of the ESEA. We refer to these programs as Title I in the idea books in order to reflect the new legislation.
4The eight goals address school readiness; school completion; student achievement and citizenship; teacher development; mathematics and science achievement; adult literacy and lifelong learning; safe, disciplined, and alcohol- and drug-free schools; and parent participation.