The Scope of Extended Learning Time

An educational program or strategy which has been introduced, purposely, to increase the amount of time students are learning is referred to as extended learning time or expanded learning time, and its objectives are the following: improving academic achievement and test scores, reducing learning loss, learning gaps, and achievement gaps. When school’s results show that students are not performing or achieving at expected levels, the extended learning time is an effective strategy. For optional learning-enrichment programs, which require increasing the amount of time for students to learn, this cannot be considered under the extended learning time, because it has a different objective and it’s viewed as elective or non-required opportunities for students to enhance or further their education. Another strategy is to extend school days and school weeks to increase the amount of time, where students can further do the following: engage in learning opportunities in areas, such as sports and arts; learn through non-traditional experiences such as apprenticeships or internships; or get academic support as part of their school days or years.

The extended learning time program varies from state to state or from school to school in the US, and with that, here are examples representing the list of widely used strategies for this program.

Expanded school years are added to the number of days students are required to attend school. Basically, states determine the minimum number of required attendance days, however, because of the extended learning time program, state legislatures or department of education may pass legislation that increase the minimum school attendance requirements.
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Students can receive instructions from teachers and other educators and have the following learning activities: participate in clubs, competitions, performances; learn through nontraditional learning pathways, such as internships and apprenticeships; or receive academic support from educators and specialists, with the expanded school days and school weeks program.
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Schools may also increase or supplement instructional time during the regular school day, in order to apply their extended learning time for students. Examples of this are: schools may eliminate study halls and replace them with academic courses, like tutoring sessions; schools may also increase course and credit requirements for graduation (math or science), which require students to spend more time learning these subjects.

For students who are performing poorly in their academics, the summer school, winter sessions, school-break programs, and summer-bridge programs may be applied to extend learning time for the students, for them to accelerate their learning progress.

Another strategy is through before-school programs and after-school programs, which are school-run or school-affiliated learning opportunities that are introduced before or after regular school hours, for the purpose of supplementing student learning.

In cases when students have long completed their homework or project outside of regular school hours, digital and online learning options can also be considered as an extended learning time, and in it, new learning technologies, such as instructional interactions found online, are introduced, which make online extended learning a convenient trend.