The Ford Foundation, the National Center on Time & Learning, and five states have announced the launch of a collaborative effort to expand and redesign school calendars in an effort to improve learning for tens of thousands of students.
In addition to capacity-building grants totaling $3 million a year for three years from the Ford Foundation, public school districts in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee participating in the TIME (Time for Innovation Matters in Education) Collaborative will receive federal and state funding to help cover the cost of adding three hundred hours to the school year. NCTL will provide technical assistance to participating schools.
The schools, which collectively serve nearly twenty thousand students, will participate in a year-long planning process involving teachers, community partners, parents, and district, school, and union leadership to develop an expanded-time schedule that provides a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum; offers individualized help for students who are struggling; uses data and technology to inform and improve instruction; improves collaboration among teachers; provides enrichment opportunities in the arts, music, and other areas critical to development; and promotes a culture of high achievement.
According to Mapping the Field: A Report on Expanded Time Schools in America, a new report from NCTL, there are more than a thousand expanded-time schools in the United States, a 53 percent increase from 2009. The most rapid growth has occurred among traditional district schools, which now account for 40 percent of all expanded-time schools, up from 20 percent in 2009.
"To prepare students for college or a middle-class job in today's economy, the conventional basics are not enough," said NCTL co-founder and president Jennifer Davis. "Students need to know how to solve complex problems, work independently and in teams, and how to think critically. Teaching these skills takes more time and a more personalized approach than most schools offer today. With more time in the school calendar, schools can offer a well-rounded curriculum, more individualized support for students, and more time for teachers to hone their craft. For high-poverty schools, more time means more learning opportunities for children to succeed in school and in life."