The Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time (ELT) Initiative began in 2005, when 16 Massachusetts school districts received planning grants from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to explore the feasibility of an adding time to and redesigning their school day. These districts worked closely with parents, teachers, community partners, and students to develop implementation plans that would meet local, state, and federal expectations for increased student achievement and engagement.
In 2006, the Massachusetts Legislature, with bipartisan support from Governor Mitt Romney, appropriated $6.5 million $1,300 per student – for the ELT Initiative, enabling the first 10 schools across five districts – representing more than 4,600 students – to turn their plans into reality and to open in September 2006 with a new expanded day. These 10 schools became the first public schools in the nation to be funded by a statewide initiative created expressly for the reason of expanding time to improve student achievement. The funding also allowed an additional 29 districts to participate in a comprehensive planning process to consider implementing ELT in either the 2007 or 2008 school year.
In 2007, ELT experienced further significant growth when the Legislature and the newly elected Governor, Deval Patrick, doubled funding to $13 million. This increase allowed nine additional expanded learning schools in seven districts.
Later that same year, the first broad measures of student achievement in ELT schools became available, and the data proved that significant results had been achieved in a short period of time. As measured by the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests, students in ELT schools achieved greater gains in proficiency across all three core subject areas when compared to students in these schools in previous years. The number of students reaching proficiency in expanded learning schools grew 44 percent in math, 39 percent in English/Language Arts, and 19 percent in science compared to the 2002–2006 average for those schools. ELT students closed the achievement gap with the state in English/Language Arts by 35 percent and increased the percentage of students at or above proficiency by 10.8 percent, while the state only increased by 3.5 percent.
The Boston Globe reported that “As a whole, schools with longer days boosted students’ MCAS scores in math, English, and science across all grade levels. . . . And they outpaced the state in increasing the percentage of students scoring in the two highest MCAS categories.”