Can nonprofits extend the DCPS day?

D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson has said she’d like to extend the school day, but the teachers’ union contract limits it to seven and one-half hours. To get around that, schools can partner with community organizations that provide the additional learning time.

Washington Teachers’ Union President Liz Davis has said she’s skeptical about extending the school day because she hasn’t seen any research showing it boosts achievement. In fact, there’s no shortage of research saying that extended learning time, when done well, does that very thing. Last year, seven out of the eight DCPS schools that implemented some form of extended day saw major gains on D.C.’s standardized tests, prompting Henderson to say she wants to bring the concept to more schools.

Nationally, community organizations, which in the past have provided afterschool programs, are repositioning themselves to give students a more seamless extended day experience. One that is doing that locally, and seeing good results, is a middle-school program called Higher Achievement.

In the past, afterschool (or “out-of-school”) programs were well-meaning but often ineffective in moving the needle for students academically. Often they worked independently of one another and of the school system.

Now, according to a recent study, cities and school districts are beginning to bring more coordination to these efforts. And in some cases, nonprofits are partnering with schools to align the academic side of their offerings to the curriculum. They’re also trying to foster the idea that programs taking place after 3:30 are a part of the regular school day.

[Continue reading Natalie Wexler’s post at Greater Greater Education.]

Natalie Wexler is the editor of Greater Greater Education. She is a member of the boards of D.C. Scholars Public Charter School and the nonprofit One World Education. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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Michael Larabee · December 10, 2013