Expanding Learning Opportunities

Expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) offer students safe, structured, and engaged learning environments outside of the traditional school day that support and complement what students are learning during the day. With generous support from the Wallace Foundation, NCSL has created a series of three briefs to keep state legislatures informed of current ELO policies and trends across the country.

A Legislative Look at Expanded Learning Opportunities: How State Policies Support Learning Outside the Traditional School Day

Expanded learning opportunities are structured learning environments that occur outside of the traditional school day through before- and after-school, summer, and extended-day, -week, -year programs. These programs offer more personalized learning opportunities for students in areas such as the arts, civic engagement, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as mentorship and general academic support. ELOs offer a  safe place for students to be outside of schools hours where they can supplement and support their education. A Legislative Look at Expanded Learning Opportunities: How State Policies Support Learning Outside the Traditional School Day examines how state policy can effectively support and advance ELOs, from low cost options to larger grant programs.

Time and Learning: Time as a Resource to Support Student Success

As schools continue to strive for student success while operating under constricting budgets, time is being reexamined as a resource and strategy for success. State policymakers are taking a closer look at instructional time requirements and their flexibility, with some schools trying to find cost effective ways to lengthen the school day and others considering condensing school weeks to four days. Time and Learning: Time as a Resource to Support Student Success reviews examples of recent state policies that examine time and learning and two extended school day pilot programs.

Rethinking “Seat Time”: State Approaches to Earning Credit in Out-of-School Time

To decrease high school dropout rates, better engage students, improve student achievement, personalize learning and improve student college and career readiness, many states are rethinking traditional ways of earning high school credit, especially time spent in the classroom. Instead of awarding credit for required classroom time or “seat-time”, many states are considering competency based systems, also known as proficiency based credits. Students can earn credit by demonstrating a mastery of skills and content which can be done in a variety of ways, including in out-of-school time. Some states are working to connect students, teachers, and community members to develop and implement credit-bearing expanded learning opportunities outside of the traditional  school day including afterschool and summer programs, internships and independent study. Rethinking “Seat Time:” State Approaches to Earning Credit in Out-of-School Time examines examples of competency based credit policies in the states.