Expanded learning time, or ELT, is gaining traction among educators and policymakers as a potent school improvement strategy. Over the past several years many high-performing charter schools and charter school networks across the country have used their autonomy to create longer school days and years for the express purpose of improving student outcomes. These schools consider more learning time to be a fundamental ingredient of their success, particularly with low-income, high-risk students.
Partners with expertise in project-based learning, community engagement, youth leadership and voice, and other approaches honed in the out-of-school time environment have particularly good potential to ensure the expanded school day addresses the comprehensive needs of children and youth.
Schools that are specific about their needs up front provide partners with a clear framework to plan their interventions and services. Yet it is also important for schools to involve partners early, share academic and nonacademic data, and solicit partners’ views on student needs. These strategy discussions will spark creative ideas and build the collaborative relationship.
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