New five-state collaborative will reimagine school day and increase learning time for tens of thousands of students

Select 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 radically improve learning for tens of thousands of students.

The schools are part of a collaborative effort announced today by the five states, the Ford Foundation, and the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) to develop high-quality and sustainable expanded-time schools. The states will use a mix of federal and state funding to cover the cost of adding 300 hours of instruction and enrichment to the school year, and will receive technical assistance from NCTL and capacity building grants from the Ford Foundation, which has committed $3 million a year over the next three years in support of the state efforts.

“At a time when many other states were cutting funding to education, Connecticut went in another direction, adding more than $100 million to public schools, much of that designated for struggling districts,” said Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “Our reform bill had a number of objectives. For districts that are succeeding, we want state government to get out of the way. And for districts that are falling behind, we wanted to give them the ability to implement the reforms that we know achieve results for students. The additional funding we’re announcing today will allow for the intensive turnaround models that will help us close the nation’s largest achievement gap.”

Schools participating in the Time (Time for Innovation Matters in Education) Collaborative, beyond simply expanding the learning day and/or year, will have the opportunity to completely re-imagine how time is used by both students and teachers. The collaborative requires schools to participate in a year-long planning process with their district, school, and union leadership, teachers, community partners and parents, to plan for the re-designed and expanded school schedule. Through that process, 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.

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.

“The leadership of these five states will deliver a major boost to a growing national movement that recognizes that schools—particularly ones serving high-poverty communities—simply need more teaching time if they are going to prepare students for a globally competitive and high-tech 21st century,” said Luis Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation. “But this is not just about adding time and doing more of the same. It’s about creating a learning day that suits the needs of our children, the realities of working parents, and the commitment of our teachers. It’s a total school makeover.”

“Education is the bedrock for the hopes and dreams of our children,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “We are thankful for these resources to help create learning experiences where every child can succeed. A more innovative school day, one that is longer in some cases and smarter in all cases, will better prepare all students from all backgrounds for college and careers.”

The five states in the collaborative will be convened by NCTL to learn from each other and explore innovation, and will aim to gradually expand the number of schools taking part in the pilot program over its initial three-year span. There are already more than 1,000 schools, serving more than half a million students, that have adopted a redesigned school day built around longer days and years, according to a study just released by NCTL. And a growing number of state education leaders, mayors, and superintendents across the country are taking a close look at expanded learning time as a way to enhance other school reform efforts.

“In tight budgets times, these states and philanthropic leaders have demonstrated creativity and commitment to giving students greater academic opportunities,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who spoke at today’s announcement in Washington. Increased learning time has been a key educational priority of the Obama administration. “Whether educators have more time to enrich instruction or students have more time to learn how to play an instrument and write computer code, adding meaningful in-school hours is a critical investment that better prepares children to be successful in the 21st century.”

“To prepare students for college or a middle-class job in today’s economy, the conventional basics are not enough. Students need to know how to solve complex problems, work independently and in teams, and how to think critically,” said Jennifer Davis, co-founder and president of NCTL. “Teaching these skills takes more time and a more personalized approach than most schools offer today. With more time in the school calendar, schools can offer a well-rounded curriculum, more individualized support for students, and more time for teachers to hone their craft. For high-poverty schools, more time means more learning opportunities for children to succeed in school and in life.”

The study released today by NCTL showed a significant increase over the last three years in the number of public schools that have expanded learning time. The report, Mapping the Field, identifies 1,002 expanded-time schools across the United States, up from 655 schools identified the last time NCTL issued the report in 2009, an increase of 53 percent. The number of students being served has increased to 520,000 students, up from 300,000 in 2009.

The most rapid growth has occurred among traditional district schools in recent years, not charter schools. As a result, district schools now account for 40 percent of all expanded-time schools, up from 20 percent of the total in 2009.

The 11 districts with schools now planning to expand their day and/or year are:

  • 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

Altogether, over 19,500 students are on track to benefit from an expanded school calendar as early as September 2013 as part of the Time Collaborative.

For more information on the Time Collaborative and to read the full Mapping the Field report, visit www.timeandlearning.org.

About The National Center on Time & Learning

The National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) is dedicated to expanding learning time to improve student achievement and enable a well-rounded education. Through research, public policy, and technical assistance, NCTL supports national, state, and local initiatives that add significantly more school time for academic and enrichment opportunities to help all children meet the demands of the 21st century. In addition to its partnership with the Ford Foundation, NCTL’s work with states, districts, and schools’most prominently the Time Collaborative’is generously supported by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.