Happy Friday! How is it already the end of January already? Time flies.

Here’s what’s happening this week in the world of expanded learning time:

The Harvard Graduate School of Education highlighted the great work that is happening in the schools in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Today Lawrence stands as the most improved Massachusetts school district for two consecutive years, with a steady rising graduation rate thanks to the leadership of Lawrence Superintendent Jeff Riley and his innovative new ideas, one of which was expanding the length of the school day/year. He says, “What we’re trying to do is say, ‘the school is the individual unit of change, and there are different ways to become a great school.’ We’re going to change the district by tipping it one school at a time.”

Voices in Urban Education highlighted a growing body of research that shows how the gap for participating in extracurricular activities is growing, and how that gap will have an effect on success later in life.  Research shows that participating in organized activities outside the classroom helps cultivate the skills, habits, connections, and knowledge that prepare children for lifelong success: academic success in school, graduating from high school, going to college, getting a job, and participating in civic life. As the report notes, “While public schools theoretically provide equal access to afterschool activities to all enrolled students, the reality is that access has become increasingly limited to children from middle- and upper-class families.” Expanded learning time can be a solution to stop the growing inequity of opportunities higher socioeconomic students receive over low socioeconomic students.

The Oregon Board of Education will vote on a new rule Thursday that would add more hours to some elementary students’ school year and eventually require high schools to schedule at least 80 percent of their students for a full day.