Senate Briefing on Expanded Learning Time as a School Improvement Strategy

This is a guest post by Kyle Linhares, Policy Associate for NCTL.

Last Wednesday, Senators Bingaman, Sanders, and Kirk hosted a bipartisan policy briefing on the use of ELT to improve student outcomes. By helping schools increase the length of the school day or year and partner with community-based organizations to develop creative approaches to education services, expanded learning time represents an effective means to help students remain competitive globally and prepare for the jobs of the future.
Of particular note were panelists Claire Kaplan, Jason Snyder, and Andrew Bott.
Claire, NCTL’s Vice President of Strategy and Knowledge Management, spoke about the interconnectedness of more time, data analysis, and teacher quality as a key nexus in improving student learning and how public policy could support high-quality ELT school models. 
Jason Snyder, Director of the Office of School Turnaround within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Department of Education, spoke to the emerging policy framework in support of longer school days, weeks, and year nationwide. He described how the School Improvement Grant program was using additional learning time, the lessons learned from the early years of the program, and how the Department plans to continue building on what has been working best, including partnering with NCTL to promote best-practices in the field.  He was particularly optimistic about the No Child Left Behind Waiver process to encourage innovative and effective uses of expanded learning time. 
Finally, Andrew Bott, principal at Orchard Gardens K-8 Pilot School in Boston, spoke movingly about both the challenges and unique solutions he encountered while using ELT to turn around one of the poorest performing schools in Massachusetts. Principal Bott made clear that the federal SIG program has been instrumental in allowing Orchard Gardens to convert to an expanded time school, and that it is the expanded time that has allowed all of the schools other reforms to take root and succeed.
Additional panelists included Lucy Friedman, president of The After-School Corporation and Superintendent Mary Ronan of Cincinnati Public Schools. 
Senator Jeff Bingaman, a consistent champion of ELT programs, introduced the event, which was moderated by David Goldberg, NCTL’s Director of Federal Policy and National Partnerships. Senator Bernie Sanders, an unwavering advocate on behalf of children and families also delivered brief remarks. Both Senators are cosponsors of the Time for Innovation Matters in Education (TIME) Act.