Imagine if the 3 PM school dismissal bell wasn’t a call for mass exodus. Imagine if students remained in school well into the evening—not for an afterschool program or detention—but as part of an engaging, integrated day of math, African dance, science, photography, English, civic leadership, and even Brazilian martial arts.
This scenario is now reality in three Baltimore City public schools—Hilton Elementary, George Washington Elementary and Harlem Park Elementary and Middle School—that are all part of TASC’s new ExpandED Schools initiative.
ExpandED Schools is a promising new model to help reinvent schools that are struggling to deliver on the promise of high-quality education for all students. ExpandED Schools add three hours of in-school time to the traditional school day by partnering with community organizations that fully participate in planning and staffing. Together schools and their community partners give students more opportunities to develop their talents and passions.
A growing body of research shows that the typical six-hour school day just doesn’t cut it for many of our students. Too many schools lack the time and funds for arts, recess or inquiry-driven projects that inspire a life-long love of learning and provide skills needed to be competitive in the 21st century. Today’s narrowly-focused school day was designed in an age of factories and farms, when children had to fit learning between the demands of providing for families. This sort of standard isn’t meeting the needs of today’s students living in a knowledge-based economy.
ExpandED Schools was piloted in New York City for the past three years with impressive results—improved school attendance, test scores and, according to the teachers in the classroom, more learning!
ExpandED is now growing from its Big Apple core, thanks to support from major new funding from The Wallace Foundation and Open Society Foundations. In addition to the three schools in Baltimore, it was adopted this September by three schools in New Orleans. We are excited to see the same encouraging trends playing out in these cities.
By lifting the limits off the outdated school schedule and adding the expertise and commitment of community partners like the Y of Central Maryland, BELL and Child First Authority—with the Family League of Baltimore City. playing an oversight role—we promise Baltimore students a more individualized, balanced and hands-on education and a fighting chance to succeed no matter where they begin.