In the fall of 2006, Massachusetts reaffirmed its place as a national leader in education innovation when 10 public schools opened their doors to a dramatically expanded school day—nearly 5,000 students were given approximately two extra hours per day to learn.
To provide students with the high-quality, well-rounded education that they deserve, these schools completely redesigned their school day from the ground up, adding time for core academics, enrichment courses, and teacher planning and professional development.
Today, 19 public schools, serving a total of 10,500 students in 10 districts, have taken the important step of expanding the school schedule for every student to improve academic performance and reintroduce students to enrichment programs that have too often been stripped from the school day. As pioneers in this first-in-the-nation effort, these schools and communities are shaping a brighter future for their students.
Funded by the State of Massachusetts, and overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the ELT Initiative is based on these guiding principles.
- 300 Additional Hours of Learning for Every Student — Each participating schools adds 300 hours over the course of the school year. This time can be added in the form of longer school days or additional days in the school year, but every student must participate. The added time creates a new school day and/or year for every child.
- More Time Requires a Complete School Redesign — Each participating school must commit to a complete redesign of its educational program tied to student needs, student goals, and a clear, school-wide academic focus.
- Academics, Enrichment, and Improving Instruction — Additional time must be aimed at improving academic outcomes and broadening opportunities in three key areas: (1) core academics; (2) enrichment opportunities, and (3) teacher planning and professional development.
- Competition for State Funding — Applying districts and a subset of their schools must: have completed a rigorous planning process, developed high-quality ELT proposals, and be able to prove that they have the capacity for successful implementation. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education only approves the highest quality proposals for funding.
- Flexible and Innovative — Participating schools and districts have the flexibility to create their own redesign approach, including goals, staffing plans, labor agreements, compensation, and schedules. This flexibility spurs innovation and has resulted in a wide range of solutions for the complex challenges of adding time.
- Inclusive Planning and Preparation Leads to Successful Implementation —Those schools that include a wide range of stakeholders, especially teachers and parents, in a comprehensive planning and redesign process, develop higher quality proposals and have greater success when implementing.
- Partners Bring Important New Resources — Partnerships are an essential component of all ELT schools. They contribute invaluable expertise and resources that schools don’t have when working alone. Partners include universities, community-based organizations, health centers, businesses, artists, and many others.
- State Support and Funding — State support and funding is required to expand the school day or year. Currently, ELT schools receive $1,300 per pupil for every student to implement their expanded learning time plan.
Opportunities for Students and Teachers
Consider what is happening in the 19 Massachusetts schools that have expanded their school schedule as a result of the Expanded Learning Time Initiative. These schools and districts have:
- Increased the amount of time devoted to teaching math, literacy, science, and other core subjects to facilitate broader and deeper coverage of the curriculum;
- Expanded learning blocks to allow teachers time to teach through hands-on, interactive projects that help students apply their skills to real-life situations;
- Built in more opportunities for teachers to collaborate during the school day so they can plan lessons together, develop higher quality curriculum and use data more effectively to improve learning;
- Integrated engaging enrichment activities such as robotics, forensics, music, ceramics, drama, video production, and athletics that develop children’s cognitive, physical and social skills;
- Included time for activities that help students develop 21st century skills such as teamwork, apprenticeships, oral presentation, problem solving, and using technology; and
- Provided individual and small-group tutoring targeted to help those students struggling to reach proficiency, especially special education students and English language learners.
- Negotiated agreements with their teachers unions that proved an increase in pay for the additional hours and work.
ELT Planning & Implementation Process
To implement ELT, interested schools pursue a multi-step process to secure approval and funding from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) for their redesign plan. The steps in this process are as follows:
- A school district applies for an ELT planning grant, which will allow them to explore whether or not expanding the school day and/or year is a viable option in one or more of its schools.
- If a district receives a planning grant, the district convenes a planning team made up of administrators, teachers, union representatives, school partners, and parents to develop an ELT implementation proposal detailing how the participating schools would expand time and how their educational program would be redesigned to take advantage of the additional time.
- If the district decides expanding the day and/or year is the right option for its school and community, the district submits its completed implementation proposal to the ESE for consideration.
- If ESE approves the implementation plan AND the district and the teachers union negotiate an agreement pertaining to the expanded schedule, then the district is eligible for $1,300 per pupil in state funding for implementation of the plan.