In the nearly two years since the report, " Learning Time in America: Trends to Reform the American School Calendar" was released, the drive to enable more schools to expand time has grown even more intense. Policy opportunities at both the state and federal levels, combined with significant initiatives in large districts, have acted to shift the concept of expanded time from a secondary education reform strategy to one that has become central to the national effort to improve schools serving high-poverty students.
Why should practitioners and policymakers alike pay close attention to the matter of learning time? Research indicates that the amount of time students have available to engage in learning is a key indicator of their level of achievement at both the individual and the school levels.
Consequently, how much time schools have to educate their students holds enormous implications for our ability to adequately prepare the next generation for their individual futures and, in turn, for the capacity of our nation to remain globally competitive. Moreover, research has also identified a yawning gap in spending on children's educational enrichment beyond school, with dollar amounts committed by families in the top quartile rising much faster over the past thirty years than resources committed by those in the bottom quartile.
This growing differential among children in learning outside the current school day and year means that, more than ever, schools operate as the primary institution through which our country can hope to equalize opportunity, and, in turn, expanding and strengthening the educational program at high-poverty schools has become a critical lever to achieve such equity.
The National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL), which is dedicated to redesigning and expanding school time to improve opportunities and outcomes for high poverty students, has joined forces with the Education Commission of the States (ECS), whose mission it is to foster the exchange of ideas on education issues among the states, to produce this snapshot of school time in America. By focusing on some of the key actions that have taken place at the federal, state, and local levels since July 2011, we seek to advance the national conversation about how the nation's schools can harness the power of time to realize a vision of high-quality education for all.
We conclude this brief with an updated version of a number of public policy recommendationsthat we issued in the original report. These revised recommendations take into account the rapidly shifting policy context and provide policymakers a roadmap for how they can best support efforts to effectively expand learning time in schools.