NCTL’s Work with Adams 12 Five Star Schools

This is a guest post by Lisa Pryor, NCTL’s Senior Advisor for State & District Engagement.

There is nothing more exciting for us here at NCTL than engaging with schools about the power of expanded learning time to transform their work. I am particularly excited to build on the momentum of our recent work with a dynamic group of educators and administrators from Colorado’s fifth largest school district, Adams12 Five Star Schools. After our recent trip, we’re confident that the leadership teams from Riverdale Elementary, Woodglenn Elementary, Malley Drive Elementary and STEM Launch are ready to think even more deeply and strategically about the promise of high-quality expanded learning time. Next up are deep discussions and tough decisions about using expanded time to boost student achievement through strengthened instruction, targeted academic interventions/supports and engaging enrichment opportunities that support their school-wide instructional focus.
It would have been all too easy for our Adams 12 friends to get bogged down by local school budget cut headlines and buzz about testing and teacher evaluations, but they didn’t. Rather, these teams engaged in three highly focused, collaborative study sessions or “conversations” that examined seven best practices for high-quality expanded learning time schools. What resonated most with the schools was using time to build a culture of high expectations and mutual accountability.  After a quick examination of the case studies and the video below, the teams discussed their own school culture and accountabilities, both for students and themselves. Each team approached the study with their own lens, but all determined to construct a stronger framework of expectations; all the while understanding that implementing that framework will take a plan, practice, and placing a priority on time. Using time to assess and analyze data was a close second priority for the teams as they explored how expanded learning time schools benefit from deep, consistent, regular discussions with teacher teams about their shared students’ data (quantitative and qualitative, scientific and anecdotal). 

The team will continue these conversations with their full faculty in the coming days as they reflect on the other study session discussion topics, including Using Time to Provide a Well-Rounded Education, Strengthening Instruction Through Teacher Collaboration Time, and Focusing on a Few Shared Instructional Goals.  We’ll be ready to step in and facilitate more conversation, more planning, and hopefully an expansion of student learning time as soon as they are ready!