Statement on Senate ESEA Reauthorization Bill Supporting School Improvement Through ELT

(Boston, MA) Jennifer Davis, Co-Founder and President of the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL), issued the following statement regarding the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passage of the Strengthening America’s Schools Act:
“Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed the Strengthening America’s Schools Act, which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The bill is a great step forward for more and better learning time and we applaud Chairman Harkin and the committee for including major provisions that will support the creation of high-quality expanded learning time (ELT) schools in order to increase student achievement, provide a well-rounded education, and support teacher development.
“Expanding learning time is currently being implemented in 36 states and the District of Columbia, serving over 520,000 students. The bill provides important flexibility for states and local communities that want to expand learning time and add ELT as an option to their before school, after school, and summer learning time programs as part of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. Communities and school districts in all states would be able to choose the option that best meets their students needs – including using a combination of the approaches.  Under No Child Left Behind, no community had that flexibility; but it was recently provided as part of the ESEA Flexibility Waivers and the demand has been tremendous. Twenty-two states have chosen this option for their communities so far, and the new law would make it available to all communities on equal terms.  
“The Act also preserves and strengthens the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program, the key federal program that targets the nation’s lowest-performing schools. For the first time, the SIG program incorporates more learning time into the statute. The most important and frequently used school improvement models, Transformation and Turnaround, benefit greatly from the inclusion of ‘increased learning time’ as part of current regulations. Increased learning time is now written into the Act as part of the two school improvement models, and an analysis of how schools use instructional time has been included as part of their needs assessment as well. These two changes to the law will help ensure that SIG schools build on this progress and better ensure that all time is well spent.  
“NCTL wants to thank Chairman Harkin for his longstanding leadership on education and specifically on policies that enable schools to expand learning time, and Senators Hagan and Warren for their support and advocacy for increased learning time as part of the SIG program.
We look forward to working with the Congress as the bill goes to forward.”