For fifteen years, Citizen Schools has been offering high-quality, voluntary afterschool programs for schools and students in low-income communities. In the fall of 2006, we partnered with three schools in Boston and Malden to implement expanded learning time (ELT) programs as part of the schools’ efforts to lengthen and redesign the school day. The goal of these pilots was to increase our impact with individual students and also to improve full school outcomes. We’ve seen impressive results with ELT, including dramatic student achievement increases at the Edwards Middle School 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.
Key features of our ELT programs include:
- A significant increase in the length of the school day (30 percent or more) mandatory for all students
- Increased small group core academic instruction led by a “second shift” of educators
- Enrichment programming, including relevant, hands-on learning activities such as our signature apprenticeships
- More planning and professional development time for teachers and Citizen Schools staff
Citizen Schools is launching our national ELT pilot program, opening eleven ELT sites across the country in Boston, Newark, New York City, Houston and Oakland. The programs will be based on the successful program model at the Edwards Middle School and are part of local school districts’ school improvement and reform strategies. In California, Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Tony Smith had the following to say, “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. 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.”