Expanded Learning Opportunities

How to Build Bridge Programs that Fit into a Career Pathway: A Step-By-Step Guide Based on the Carreras En Salud Program in Chicago

This report discusses the fundamental design elements of quality bridge programs, drawing from the example of Carreras en Salud in Chicago. Bridge programs provide low-skilled workers with enrichment opportunities to increase their readiness and competitiveness for employment. Among these opportunities are: career development, contextualized instruction, and support services. The report outlines step-by-step instructions for organizations to consider in creating successful bridge programs - including the development of partnerships, curricula, and logistics.

Beyond School: Earning Credit for Real-World Experiences

On December 16th, Education Week hosted a Webinar entitled “Beyond School: Earning Credit for Real-World Experiences.” This Webinar discusses an extended learning opportunity (ELO) initiative involving Providence, Rhode Island school district and its nonprofit partner Providence After School Alliance (PASA). In selected high schools throughout the district, students participate in community programs for digital badges and course credit.

Helping Students Get a Head Start on the "Real World": State Strategies for Early High School Graduation

This brief challenges the need for a fourth year of high school, addressing the controversy around “senior year” and its tendency to draw out the high school experience. In proposing the topic of early graduation, the document outlines a number of policy approaches and their successful implementation in various states. Among these programs are scholarship incentives, dual enrollment, virtual classes, and proficiency-based credits.

Are Personalized Learning Environments the Next Wave of K-12 Education Reform?

This paper discusses the 16 Race to the Top grantees in 2012 -- a year in which the U.S. Department of Education highlighted the need for personalized learning environments. Specific attention is paid to the successful design and innovation plans of each grantee state, with a focus of four main activity areas within the context of personalized learning. This paper summarizes opportunities for innovation and potential challenges in constructing effective personalized learning environments, with the ultimate hope of providing key takeaway points for improvements in teaching and learning. 

Schools, Districts, and States Transform Seat-based Requirements into Competency-based Pathways to College- and Career-Readiness

Schools today are struggling to achieve innovation, efficiency, and effective reform with limited financial resources. To allay these challenges met by education leaders, the U.S. Department of Education has suggested some approaches to increase educational productivity. Among these recommendations, the Department makes a strong case for policies targeted at personalized learning and competency-based pathways.

Iowa District Puts Twist on Four-Day Week

WACO community school district in Iowa is adopting a four-day school week to allow for more student enrichment and professional development for teachers. Students will have the option to attend remedial, enrichment, or college-level classes on Fridays. The district is also hoping the new schedule will reduce costs associated with transportation and utilities and alleviate budget woes. However, the district was granted approval for the schedule change because the motivation for the change was not largely budget-based.

Expanded Learning Opportunities: A More Comprehensive Approach to Preparing High School Students for College and A Career

This brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education argues that providing students with flexibility regarding where, when, how and from whom students learn will help support the nation’s goal of graduating students who are ready for college and a career. The brief outlines some of the challenges that the current organization of the school day presents and proposes some alternatives, including some brief profiles of specific initiatives that support more comprehensive approaches to expanded learning opportunities.

Engaging Older Youth: Program and City-level Strategies to Support Sustained Participation In Out-of-School Time (Research Synopsis)

This research synopsis from the Harvard Family Research Project summarizes the findings of the full report, “Engaging Older Youth: Program and City-level Strategies to Support Sustained Participation in Out-of-School Time.” The report examines the program practices and structural features of out-of-school time (OST) programs in six U.S. cities that primarily serve low-income youth.

Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful, Expanded-Time Schools

This report from the National Center on Time & Learning discusses key practices in optimizing increased learning time. The authors surveyed 30 high-performing schools, including 11 high schools, with longer school days and/or years and identified eight “powerful practices” of using increased learning time to improve student performance and engagement. The report provides case study illustrations to show school-level implementation for each of the eight practices.


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