Partnership Zone in Practice: What Could This Mean For You?
Recently, Secretary Lowery designated four schools as members of Delaware’s statewide Partnership Zone Initiative, an ambitious effort to transform the academic outcomes of students at our persistently low-performing schools. Secretary Lowery chose each of the four campuses based upon regulations outlined in Delaware’s Education Administrative Code. Once chosen for participation, each school is required to engage in a 90-day process in which they chose a school turnaround model and develop plans to implement aggressive reforms, such as alternative curricular models and job-embedded professional development.
One component outlined in regulations that has received significant attention, both within school turnaround efforts and other reforms aimed at increasing student learning, is extended learning time. Regulations require participating schools to, “make changes to scheduling to increase learning time for students and maximize collaboration time for teachers – consider extended learning time, modified or block scheduling.”
The National Center on Time and Learning, an organization that advocates for policies at the federal, state, and local levels to increase academic and enrichment opportunities for students, highlights that extending learning time brings many benefits. These benefits include more time spent on task, greater depth into subject matter, deeper interactions and relationships between teachers and students, opportunities for project-based learning, and time for teachers to engage in on-site collaboration and professional development.
Successful implementation of extended learning time will require districts to step back and think holistically about their daily instructional and operational practices. Consideration must be given to the necessary time required for students to engage in the altered curriculum while simultaneously providing teachers support to ensure effectiveness. Additionally, schools should work with their Lead Partner to identify and form partnerships with outside organizations that align with their turnaround efforts.
We know that extended learning time can bring both increased student learning and enrichment opportunities for students. We hope that all Partnership Zone schools utilize this opportunity to develop strong turnaround plans that maximize the impact of extended learning time for students, teachers, and other stakeholders.