State & Federal Policy Momentum

Over the last few years, policy advances at the federal, state, and local levels have accelerated efforts to ensure high-poverty students receive an education that prepares them for success in college, careers, and beyond.  This year leaders across several states have provided new or newly flexible funding to incentivize district and school leaders, particularly in high-poverty communities, to expand school schedules in order to close achievement and opportunity gaps.

The commitment to this issue is broad, coming from both Democrats and Republicans. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo's plans are moving forward for a $20 million competitive grant program for expanded learning time. Similarly, in Iowa, the Department of Education has proposed a $1 million competitive grant program targeting middle schools. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proposed $5 million for expanded learning time in his FY 2015 budget, following the recommendation of his state superintendent of education, Dr. Christopher Koch.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called for longer school days in his 2014 State of the State address and has also requested $5 million in his budget to establish a competitive grant program where districts would offer proposals to expand the school day or year. Additionally, the Texas Education Agency named the members of their state's Expanded Learning Opportunities Commission last month, which was created by the Legislature in the last session and must issue a report on policy recommendations by the end of 2014.

While states across the U.S. are driving important reforms, support at the federal level remains very strong with the Obama Administration's latest budget demonstrating its continuing commitment to expanding learning time as a crucial school redesign and improvement strategy.  Of particular note, the Administration's new Race to the Top - Equity and Opportunity program features expanded learning time as one of the ways of ensuring that students get the high-quality, well-rounded education they need and deserve.

Over the years, NCTL has launched initiatives and released publications focused on creating a better school design to meet students' needs.  In May, we will be launching a new phase of work focused on giving teachers the time they need to succeed. Time for Teachers:  Leveraging Expanded Time to Strengthen Instruction and Empower Teachers will be released May 14th at an event in Washington, D.C. co-hosted by Teach Plus. This event will launch the expansion of our work at NCTL to support teachers with high-quality, school-embedded professional learning opportunities.