In a press release yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick says, “Massachusetts leads the nation in education innovations to close the achievement gap and I am proud of our continued investments in expanded learning time as a school improvement strategy.”

Governor Patrick has a right to be proud of Massachusetts when it comes to expanded learning time. There are over 90 expanded-time schools across the Commonwealth, and Massachusetts is home to the only statewide initiative to expand learning time, the Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time (ELT) Initiative. This year, thanks to the leadership of Governor Patrick, Secretary of Education (and TSC Signatory) Paul Reville, Commissioner of Elementary & Secondary Education (another TSC Signatory) Mitchell Chester, the Massachusetts Legislature, funding for the Massachusetts ELT Initiative will be increased by $250,000, allowing more schools to join this innovative initiative.

The leadership of those officials has also led to the emergence of a number of models for expanded-time schools. We’ve seen partnerships at the school-level with organizations like Citizen Schools flourish as the organizations can bring in critical staffing as well as develop and implement an enrichment curriculum to supplement the core academic classes. We’ve also seen schools that do not use partners have a robust expanded-day curriculum.

What is encouraging throughout is the environment for innovation around the school calendar. Whether it be ELT schools, innovation schools, charter schools, or pilot schools, I am continually heartened by the number of approaches Massachusetts schools are taking to rethink their school day.