FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Two Oakland Middle Schools to Lengthen School Day for Students this School Year
District Partners with Citizen Schools to Add Hours and Spur Positive Academic Outcomes
Oakland, CA – August 30, 2010 – Oakland Unified School District announced today that it will partner with Citizen Schools, a national nonprofit that runs programs in Oakland and eighteen other cities across the country, to lengthen the school day at United for Success Academy and Elmhurst Community Preparatory School by three hours each day for all sixth graders this school year. The longer school day will also be implemented for a smaller cohort of seventh and eighth graders at United for Success Academy. In addition, Citizen Schools will be launching their 8th Grade Academy program at both schools, working with 15-20 eighth graders to prepare students for the transition from middle school to high school. The longer school day and Citizen Schools partnership is part of a school transformation effort at Elmhurst Community Prep and United for Success Academy. The schools were recently designated as “persistently low-performing schools” and applied for federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding to boost student achievement. During the expanded hours, students will receive academic support, participate in an English Language Arts “academic league” aimed at raising proficiency, and learn about what it takes to succeed in school and get into college. In addition, students will sign up for “apprenticeships” where small groups of students will be matched with professionals from across the Bay area. These volunteers will work under the supervision of Citizen Schools staff to teach students about different careers and professions. This announcement comes at a time of great momentum for longer school days nationally. Both President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have consistently called for longer days as part of their ambitious effort to reform the nation’s schools. In fact, expanded learning time (ELT) was highlighted as a key strategy to help struggling schools in the U.S. Department of Education’s blueprint for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. “If we want our children to reach their potential and the goals we’ve set for them, we have to provide conditions in which high levels of learning can occur for all students,” said Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Tony Smith. “In Oakland, this means changing the idea of what a school is and investing the entire city in the creation of full-service community schools. Full-service community schools go beyond traditional notions of education to provide more services, more often, with more attention to the specific needs of the neighborhoods in which they operate.” “In addition to a high-quality education, health, physical education, nutrition, medical, dental, recreation, housing, employment and language acquisition services are provided in the community school model,” Smith continued. “The emphasis is on educating and caring for the whole child and extended learning time is a key component in this vision of academic and social development.” Citizen Schools has seen great success with similar ELT programs nationwide. For example, performance has improved dramatically at the Edwards Middle School, an ELT campus in Boston where Citizen Schools serves the entire 6th grade. Between 2006 and 2009, 6th grade proficiency rates increased from 15% to 37% in math and from 27% to 49% in English Language Arts. Edwards eighth graders, the first class to participate in ELT for all three years of middle school, outscored the state average in math in 2009. The Oakland ELT programs are modeled after the Edwards Middle School ELT partnership with Citizen Schools.
Citizen Schools will be launching up to eleven ELT programs nationwide this fall, including programs here in Oakland. The organization aims to increase the number of students nationwide who benefit from an expanded learning day and validate ELT as a turnaround strategy for persistently low-performing schools.
“We know that expanded learning time done right is an effective strategy for helping schools succeed,” said Joe Ross, Executive Director of Citizen Schools California. “Citizen Schools California is delighted to expand our presence in Oakland with expanded learning time programs at United for Success Academy and Elmhurst Community Prep School.”
Founded in Boston in 1995, Citizen Schools has grown into a national network of 37 “campuses” – middle school partner sites – in low-income communities across seven states. The California Citizen Schools program launched in 2003 and will serve 831 students and engage over 200 volunteers across the state this school year. The organization has partnered with United for Success Academy and Lionel Wilson Prep School in Oakland to provide afterschool programming for middle school students since the 2008-09 school year.
About Citizen Schools Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for low income children across the country. Citizen Schools uniquely mobilizes thousands of adult volunteers to help improve student achievement by teaching skill-building apprenticeships after school. The organization’s programs blend these real-world learning projects with rigorous academic and leadership development activities, preparing students in the middle grades for success in high school, college, the workforce, and civic life.