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While most students and staff are enjoying a break from the traditional school year, summer remediation and enrichment efforts are well underway. Schools are looking for ways to increase student learning time and exposure to curriculum, especially for students who struggle the most. There are a variety of ways to work with students who require extended learning time (ELT) to be successful and schools all over the state and the nation are piloting programs that are beginning to show promising results.
MASA, in collaboration with many other state education groups, has contracted with Public Sector Consultants (PSC) to provide research-based policy papers on various topics that can help your local decision-making and influence legislators at the Capitol. The first white paper in the series, Extended Learning Time: Is more always better? is available now and allows you to frame a substantive discussion around the issue with your staff and boards.
When thinking about ELT and student achievement, it’s important to remember:
- Student data is the right starting point. Finding trends of strength and weakness by content area and grade level allows schools to chart a path to successful remediation.
- Once content and concepts of strength and weakness have been identified, students, parents, teachers and administrators need to determine the root cause. Is there a curriculum issue, an ineffective instructional practice or is it that additional time is needed to help students master complex concepts?
- If ELT is a strategy selected to help all students succeed, the next important decision is instructional strategy. There’s no research to support “slower and louder” as an effective teaching technique. Great care needs to be taken when implementing a remediation program and differentiated instruction has to be used by a master teacher.
Beyond the white paper provided, there has been ground breaking research that outlines a distinct difference between growth and catch-up growth. Growth is what occurs for most students over the course of a normal school year, allowing grade level targets to be achieved. Catch-up growth is when students begin the year a grade level or two behind their peers, requiring additional time and focus to help the student achieve beyond the standard one-year growth to gain ground and catch-up to the cohort group. Students in catch-up growth mode appear to show the most gains under the ELT model.
Summertime is a great time to engage your board and staff in a conversation about ELT and the potential benefits for your students.
You can read the complete 7-page policy paper from PSC, Extended Learning Time: Is more always better? at www.gomasa.org. Look for this and other policy-related information in the Policy Center under the Government Relations tab.