Massachusetts: Year-End Reflections
This was another busy year for Expanded Learning Time in Massachusetts. It was punctuated by a hurricane and a blizzard, and subsequently stretched until June 28 in many communities. For our team, it was a year of growth, as we worked with over 20 MA schools this year on planning for or implementing ELT for the first time, as well as depth, as we dug deeper with the established network of state-funded ELT schools. As we wind down the year, here are a few highlights from our work in MA:
· MA ELT schools continue to garner interest and praise from policymakers and press alike, including CBS Evening News, Edutopia, and the Boston Globe. They also remain the pioneers in this work, hosting visitors from across the country who want to learn how to redesign their schools. Recently, teachers and principals from New York and Connecticut visited ELT schools in Revere, Fall River, and Boston. As one teacher said as she left Whelan Elementary School in Revere, “This is the kind of school I want to work in, and the kind of school I want to send my children to. Expanded time is working here.”
· Two new state-funded ELT schools wow’ed us with their commitment to ELT this year. After an extensive planning process last spring, these schools bit their nails until July, when they learned they had received the state ELT grant. They worked tirelessly throughout the summer and just five weeks later, opened their doors with redesigned schedules to students and staff. Hats off to Huntington Elementary in Brockton and McKinley Elementary in Revere on an impressive first year of expanded time; we can’t wait to see what you do in year two.
· We launched the TIME Collaborative in Massachusetts this year, working with nine Lawrence and Fall River schools on creating high-quality, sustainable ELT models. A number of these schools will implement their plans next fall and add 300 hours to their annual schedules, many of them with support from the new 21st Century Community Learning Center ELT grant. We also supported additional Lawrence schools that will add 205 hours to their schedules, making Lawrence the first district in the state to have expanded time in all schools serving grades K-8.
Even as we pause to reflect on the past year’s work, we’re already beginning our planning for next year. This summer, we’ll be tackling questions like:
· How can we connect the ever-growing number of ELT schools across MA – district, charter, turnaround, Innovation – so school leaders and teachers can share best practices, discuss challenges and learn from one another?
· How can we help schools monitor the quality of implementation so they can assess their progress in real time, and make data-driven improvements where necessary?
· What can we learn next year from schools which, like those in the TIME Collaborative, are seeking sustainable solutions to expanding time like staggered schedules and blended learning?
So, it’ll be a busy summer here at our office. Drop us a postcard or an email if you have ideas or suggestions for next year. We look forward to sharing more news and results from the MA ELT network in the fall!