Monday, October 24, 2011

Time Well Spent

My friend Chris Gabrieli with two items related to extended learning time (see more at the end of this email):


A) Firstly, we have released a major new report entitled Time Well Spent.  It represents our effort to offer a "taxonomy," rather like Doug Lemov of Uncommon Schools did re teaching, of how effective extended time schools do it.  We provide 8 broad powerful practices clustered in three buckets and also offer three specific strategies within each powerful practice.  We also provide multiple specific examples throughout taken from the sample of 30 high-performing extended time schools which we visited to help inform this study.


In addition to laying out the anatomy and physiology of leveraging expanded time into success for students, we also emphasize an overall framework for school success which places expanded time as one of four essential gears which need to all be engaged and meshed for success – (1) time; (2) people (human capital); (3) data; and (4) school culture.  Without all four of these driving in synergy, results will be diminished or even minimal regardless of resources.  Further, these gears interlock importantly.  For example, while it is axiomatic that the better the teaching, the more effective the expanded time, it is equally true that expanded time is vital to the effort to strengthen teaching.  The report quotes Michael Mann, Head of School at North Star Academy, "Our staffing strategy isn't necessarily to bring in the best of the best.  Our strategy is to bring in teachers who want to become better and train them to become the best of the best."  Likewise, vigorous use of data to target support to students exactly where they need it powers the individualized support we see at successful extended time schools but reciprocally, collecting exit ticket data every day, formative assessments every few weeks, analyzing that data and making adjustments based on it all requires time beyond the traditional school schedule.


The report was released at an event at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC.  The lead speaker was Secretary Duncan, who has been a forceful advocate for expanding learning time.  Under his leadership, the USED has provided unprecedented resources to support expanding learning time, especially at turnaround schools.  The chief outside commentator on the report was New York State Commissioner of Education John King, who as the co-founder of a pioneering expanded learning time school, Roxbury Preparatory Charter School here in Boston and then Managing Director of Uncommon Schools (three of whose schools are in the report) brings a unique perspective to the issue even as he works to consider how to effectively scale up such approaches.  The event was shown on CSPAN and can be seen at



B) Secondly, on October 25th and 26th in Boston, the National Center on Time & Learning, in partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, will be hosting the first ever National Convening on Expanding Learning Time.  The speaker program on the 25th features a wonderful variety of voices ranging from KIPP co-founder Dave Levin to AFT President Randi Weingarten to Ford Foundation CEO Luis Ubinas and White House Education Advisor Roberto Rodriguez.  We will have leaders of 25 charter and district expanded time pioneer schools speaking on various aspects and we will have sessions looking at many specific aspects ranging from how adaptive software can be used to personalize education to how expanded time can drive STEM education to the centrality of expanded time in successful turnarounds.  On October 26th, for those interested, we have arranged for site visits to a number of leading example schools in the Greater Boston area so that people can look up close at expanded learning time in action.  We would be delighted to have readers of the Tilson Tirade (is that the name?) or anyone interested in improving educational opportunity in America attend and participate.


The findings of NCTL's new report   

Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful, Expanded-Time Schools provided the framework for the event discussion. This landmark report documents the practices that lead to dramatic increases in student achievement and provides a new roadmap for the expanded-time field. Time Well Spent offers an in-depth examination of 30 expanded-time schools serving high-poverty populations with impressive track records of student success, and demonstrates how these schools leverage their additional time to implement other critical reforms. 

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