WASHINGTON, DC – Many schools across the country are rethinking the use of time within and beyond the school day. A new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education suggests that the addition of time or different uses of time should begin with a strong vision on behalf of schools and districts to provide new and innovative models of education to increase student engagement and improve college and career readiness. This concept is supported by a recent PDK/Gallup Poll, which finds that roughly 44 percent of Americans support the idea of adding more days to the school calendar in efforts to improve education opportunities. The Alliance’s report considers districts and schools that reshaped their existing school days to go beyond the time-bound schedules of the past to more effectively manage students’ overall learning experiences both in and outside the classroom.
The report, Leading with a Vision: How Different, Creative, and Effective Uses of Time Support Initiatives to Provide New and Better Student Learning Experiences, highlights how several U.S. secondary schools serving mostly students of color and low-income students increased and restructured their use of time to provide students with greater opportunities to prepare them for college and a career.
“The traditional school day and year both inhibit learning for too many students, and must change,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “This is particularly true for students in concentrated poverty who have been significantly underserved by the education system. The expanded learning opportunities schools and districts can provide—for example, by simply re-evaluating the current ‘seat-time’ model—are vitally important to providing students with adequate opportunities to learn the content and skills necessary for success.”
The report notes that high schools have a particularly unique opportunity in how they use time. For example, Eminence Independent Schools in Kentucky is restructuring its school day to allow students to dual-enroll at local colleges and earn up to 25 credits within two years for a population that had previously seen only 40 percent of its students graduate ready for college and a career. Porterville Unified School District in California uses “Linked Learning” and offers additional time for its rural student population’s real-world workplace experiences, giving students the chance to gain skills that can be used after graduation.
The report also encourages schools to consider various barriers to learning, such as a lack of technology, and offers examples on how to overcome them. At Harmony Magnet Academy in Porterville, California, students can take core courses online, which allows extra time in the classroom for more in-depth learning. At T.C. Williams Satellite Campus in Alexandria, Virginia, students work in a college-like environment learning at their own pace through online course work.
Leading with a Vision offers several policy recommendations to ensure all districts can be more effective with the use of time. At the federal level, the report suggests expanding access to high-speed broadband for schools and libraries to expand the use of technology and increasing funding for the planning and implementation of digital learning strategies. At the state and district levels, leaders and policymakers should work to provide schools with greater flexibility and autonomy in scheduling that would support strategies for increasing personalized learning opportunities for students.
At 2:30 p.m. (EDT) today, the Alliance will hold a webinar on the report that will feature Robert Rothman, senior fellow with the Alliance for Excellent Education and coauthor of the report; Buddy Berry, superintendent at Eminence Independent Schools (KY); Apolinar Marroquin, principal at Granite Hills High School (CA); and Jonathan Spear, cofounder of Generation Schools Network.
Leading with a Vision: How Different, Creative, and Effective Uses of Time Support Initiatives to Provide New and Better Student Learning Experiences is available online at https://all4ed.org/reports-factsheets/LeadingWithVision/.
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring all students, particularly those traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.