Last year, Connecticut’s State Department of Education (SDE) collaborated with the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) to bring the TIME Collaborative to a limited number of Alliance Districts. This year, as the first cohort is implementing expanded learning time, the SDE and NCTL are currently working with a second group of districts and schools in a planning process to expand learning time in the 2014-15 school year. Today, we’ve asked Rob Travaglini from the NCTL to tell us a little bit about expanded learning time and the TIME Collaborative.

In 2012, NCTL collaborated with the Connecticut State Department of Education and a strong steering committee to launch the TIME Collaborative in Connecticut. We did this because every child in Connecticut deserves an education that prepares her for success in college and career and sets her on a path to a rich, fulfilling life. Unfortunately, our antiquated school calendar is too limiting to provide children from low-income communities with the breadth and depth of educational experiences they will need to thrive.

However, schools that find ways to expand learning time can often provide rigorous and well-rounded curriculums – including not just reading and math, but also science, civics, history, art, music, and physical education. Additionally, expanding the school schedule gives teachers the time they need to collaborate on lesson planning, to work together to develop professionally, and to review student data on an ongoing basis. In short, more learning time ensures that all children, particularly those in high-poverty schools, have the opportunities they need to succeed in school and in life.

Led by NCTL and supported by the Ford Foundation and several other national and state-based foundations – the TIME Collaborative seeks to develop high-quality and sustainable expanded learning time schools in five states: Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee. Through the TIME Collaborative, NCTL, the Ford Foundation and our philanthropic partners are investing in and supporting states that have agreed to use:

  • The ESEA waiver process to add 300 hours of learning time for all students in participating schools; and
  • A mix of federal, state, and district funding to cover the additional cost.

Selected districts and schools participate in an intensive planning process to create a re-engineered school schedule that expands the conventional 6.5 hour, 180-day school year. The additional time can be added through longer schools days, a longer school year, or a combination of both.

Participating districts also receive capacity-building funds from the Ford Foundation to help cover costs during the planning year. District and school teams receive expert technical assistance and coaching from NCTL at no cost. They are supported in rethinking the length of their school day and ensuring that time is used effectively. NCTL helps schools to schedule an expanded day or year, lower the costs of that extra time, and manage staff schedules. Additionally, NCTL helps generate support for implementation and build a sustainable expanded-time schedule.

As schools go through the nine-month planning process, they actively engage planning teams to think through what a new school day could look like at their school. It is vital that the process for redesigning the school’s schedule is inclusive, based upon input from administrators, teachers, community members, union officials, and parents.

Following the planning process, plans from participating districts and schools are reviewed against a rubric by a team of internal TIME Collaborative experts and external educational partners. High-quality and sustainable plans are selected for implementation and enter into the TIME Collaborative National Network. The expanded-time schedules are paid for using a combination of Alliance District Funds, flexible Title I set-asides (formerly SES), and the new federal 21st Century Community Learning Center-ELT grants.  

In Connecticut, we currently have two cohorts participating. The first cohort began implementing their redesigned and expanded schedules in 2013-2014. It includes the following schools:

  • Casimir Pulaski School, Meriden
  • John Barry Elementary School, Meriden
  • O’Connell IB School, East Hartford
  • Jennings Dual Language School, New London
  • Winthrop STEM Magnet School, New London

The second cohort of schools is completing the planning process for implementation in the 2014-2015 school year. It includes the following schools:

  • Roger Sherman Elementary School, Meriden
  • Israel Putnam School, Meriden
  • Windham Middle School, Windham
  • Sweeney Elementary School, Windham
  • Edison Elementary School, Bridgeport
  • Beardsley Elementary School, Bridgeport
  • Wilbur Cross School (K-8), Bridgeport

Stay tuned. We’ll be hearing from Rob again soon about the planning process for schools that implement expanded learning time. If you want to learn more about expanding learning time, we also recommend visiting NCTL’s Time Matters Blog.