Expanded Learning Time Sparks an Innovation Boom in Massachusetts

On October 19, we gathered in Boston to celebrate Massachusetts educators who are breaking through traditional barriers that can stand in the way of creating great schools. With support from John McDonough of BPS, Senator Pat Jehlen, Senator Michael Rodrigues, and Mike Tooke of the Boston Leaders for Education, we awarded innovative educators who had leveraged additional school time to generate positive school change in Massachusetts districts such as Fall River, Lawrence, and Revere, among others.

Awards were given to:

  • Fall River Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown and the Fall River Educators’ Association President, Rebecca Cusick, for collaborative negotiations to promote district-wide innovation.
  • UP Education Network (represented by President of UP Education Network, Tim Nicolette) for blending charter and district models to create successful schools.
  • Revere Superintendent Emeritus Paul Dakin for creating innovative district flexibilities and collaborative structures in Revere.

Some key quotes coming out of the event were:

“Every single time our high-needs schools expanded time, soon after they became Level 1 or 2. ELT [expanded learning time] was the mechanism of change.” – Paul Dakin, Revere

"Teacher collaboration and voice, along with access to expanded learning time are the supports we need to move to the next level." - Meg Mayo-Brown, Fall River

“Teacher voice is important. Teachers want more time to innovate and collaborate.” – Rebecca Cusick, Fall River

“UP Education Network partners with districts to make meaningful progress; we set up conditions for success, one of which is more school time.” – Tim Nicolette, President of UP Education Network

"Here in Massachusetts, expanded learning schools are twice as likely to be high growth in ELA and Math as regular time schools." –Jennifer Davis, NCTL

At the event, we also issued a call to action for what we need to do in Massachusetts to continue to lead the way.  This call quickly took the form of a concrete action plan when representatives of state education agencies, political leaders, school committees, and teachers’ unions, all participants of the Massachusetts Foundation Budget Review Commission, released their report on October 30.

The Commission was charged with making recommendations to update the Massachusetts education foundation budget formula, which is the mechanism the state uses to calculate the cost of education a child. The formula was put in place 22 years ago and has not been substantively updated since. Apart from updating  funding levels that are now out-of-date, especially related to health care, special education, and ELL support, the report also suggested new ways to support high-poverty schools. These options include expanding the school day or year, providing more social workers and guidance counselors, improving professional development for teachers, reducing class size for high need populations, and providing more access to early education.

All of these worthwhile strategies come with additional costs, of course, but as Commission member Paul Reville said, "There’s no more important investment in the Commonwealth than an investment in high-quality public education for all our students."

We need to take what we know works, what we see works in our schools, and expand these opportunities to all students.

To read more about the education awardees click here.

To read more about the foundation budget review commission report click here.