School districts around the country have been considering expanding learning time. It’s exciting to see this kind of movement in communities from New York City to Amarillo, TX to Kane, PA.

New York City has a new expanded learning time initiative called MS ExTRA, led by TASC (whose president Lucy Friedman is a TSC Signatory). Sixth grade students at 20 high-needs middle schools will have 2.5 hours additional in school each day for small-group tutoring and enrichment classes. This initiative is part of a larger district initiative – the Middle School Quality Initiative – to improve literacy instruction in NYC middle schools.

In Texas’s Amarillo Independent School District, high schools have added between 35 and 45 minutes to their school days to provide students who did not pass state assessment exams with additional instruction. The high schools expanded the school days for all students, but the instruction is targeted to the students who need assistance. Students who passed the assessment exams are able to use the additional time to complete homework assignments or to attend club meetings.

The Kane, Pennsylvania school community had the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the changes to its school calendar at a school committee meeting this month, including expanding the calendar for all students in the district. The district added 35 minutes for students in grades K-2 and 20 minutes in grades 3-12.

In Massachusetts, celebration was in order when the state’s first school to be declared ‘chronically underperforming’ was officially moved to the top of the class. Fall River’s Matthew J. Kuss Middle School, a MA ELT Initiative school which operates with 300 additional hours, has been moved off of the state’s ‘underperforming’ list and is now in the top tier of schools across the state. Governor Deval Patrick, Fall River Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown and former Kuss principal Nancy Mullen, all TSC Signatories, were at the school to celebrate the news.

Windham, CT, administrators, teachers, and parents are all talking about learning time. Two schools in that community are taking part in a planning process to add time to the school day and/or year through the TIME Collaborative (a 5-state initiative led by the National Center on Time & Learning and the Ford Foundation). By engaging in the planning process, the teams are able to design new school days to meet the needs of individual students.

Jefferson County, Kentucky is expanding the school day at 18 of its persistently lowest performing schools. The district has identified over 5,100 students who are eligible for the voluntary expanded learning day. The district hopes that students will take advantage of the time to work one-on-one with teachers on material where they are having trouble and/or on assignments. The students were selected based on a teacher’s recommendation or on academic data that showed students are at risk of falling behind.