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Education Week: Report Shares Advice on Scaling Up Programs to Extend Learning Time

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A new report from the Wallace Foundation shares ideas for scaling up initiatives for expanded learning time so they can serve more students.

"Scaling Up, Staying True" documents a day of panel discussions from a conference for Wallace grantees last November. The publication highlights discussions among representatives from groups that work on expanded-learning-time initiatives and consultants for nonprofit organizations.

(The Wallace Foundation also supports Education Week coverage of leadership, expanded learning time, and arts education.)

As detailed in the report, Larry Cooley, the president of consulting firm Management Systems International, offered conference-goers basic advice on growing small programs for expanded learning time. He advised partnering with intermediary organizations to adapt programs to work in settings that are different from those in which they were first developed. He suggested organizations identify the parts of their programs that are essential and focus on scaling up these components. And he urged organization leaders to think about how they might expand their programs to reach a mass audience at the outset, so they don't build programs that can only work on a small scale.

Officials from organizations like BELL, a Boston-based group that runs summer and after-school programs, Every Hour Counts, a New York City-based coalition of groups dedicated to increasing learning time, and Citizen Schools, a Boston-based organization that expands learning time in middle schools, shared their successes and challenges in growing their programs.

Lauren Gilbert, a vice president at BELL, noted that expanded learning time programs are typically seen as a supplement to the school day, which can make it hard to secure funding for them.

"How do you build up not only the consensus that [expanded learning is] doable and desirable but [also that] it's necessary?" she asked.

One way may be aligning extended-learning-time programming with the Common Core State Standards, as was suggested by consultants from Cross & Joftus in another discussion later in the day. The consultants said expanded learning time programs need not fall into lockstep with every state standard but can make a better case for scaling up if they can demonstrate their academic curricula is harmonized with the common core and their programs build 21st century skills such as evidence-based writing and problem-solving.

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