From After School Learning to Extended Learning Time: The Evolution of The After School Corporation/ExpandED (Part 1 of 2)

Since its founding in 1998 as The After-School Corporation (TASC), ExpandED has focused on leveraging “out of school learning” to improve underserved students’ experiences and outcomes in schools.  Along the way, ExpandED helped to establish a network and infrastructure for afterschool programs in New York City. The organization’s shift from TASC to ExpandED marked a mission to advance an extended learning time model that integrates community-based partners—and, learning experiences aimed at a more holistic development of the child’s socio-emotional skills and personal interests—into the school day. Throughout its evolution, ExpandED has both shaped and been shaped by the growing interest and support for expanded learning time in the US.  As part of a continuing series of posts documenting the development of a variety of education-related organizations in the US as well as in other countries, we talked with ExpandED President Lucy Friedman, Vice President of Programs Chris Whipple, Senior Director of Program Support Rashida Ladner-Seward, and Senior Director of Research Katie Brohawn to get their perspectives on the early work of TASC, the current efforts of ExpandedED, and what they see as the next steps for expanded learning time.

 

Creating an infrastructure for learning afterschool (TASC 1998-2008)

Founded in 1998, TASC sought to respond to what they saw as a critical problem: only 1% of New York City’s 1.1 million students attended an after-school program, indicating an opportunity gap between more affluent, well-connected students, and students with little access to educational opportunities beyond the school day.  To address this problem, the Open Society Foundations provided a five-year, $125 million challenge grant to help TASC achieve two key goals:

“1) change public policy to make high-quality after-school options accessible to every New York City child

 2) establish a sustainable, scalable model for comprehensive, daily after-school programming”

While the objectives were oriented to educational opportunities beyond the school day, TASC saw its support for the development of afterschool programs as a means of influencing learning in schools as well. For example, in those early years, TASC partnered with Project Zero to introduce a more holistic, project-based approach to afterschool programs.  The hope was that those activities might serve as a model and inspiration for similar work during the regular school day.

 

A nimble approach to spandrels of opportunity

However, the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, shortly after TASC launched this initiative, created both a challenge and opportunity for TASC. On the one hand, it would be harder to have a trickle-down effect on learning during the school day, as partner schools felt pressure to focus directly on improving ELA and math scores. On the other hand, the emphasis on tested subject areas during school led to increased demand for afterschool programs. As Lucy Friedman explained, “a lot of principals valued us even more because they valued the arts and sports and knew kids needed that and they weren’t getting it.” Shifting their message, TASC stressed that their afterschool model could provide academic enrichment, arts and other extracurricular activities that schools were having more and more difficulty carrying out during the regular school day.

 

Creating the conditions conducive to its goals

To build wider access to meaningful and productive arts-based and extracurricular activities, TASC envisioned itself as a systems architect rather than a direct services provider.  As a consequence, while TASC did launch a few afterschool programs itself, its early emphasis was on capacity building and advocacy. In that role, TASC focused on identifying areas of strength and weakness in the infrastructure for after-school programming. Friedman noted that New York City had some obvious strengths as a place for TASC to carry out its mission: it had “a wealth of community organizations that had a lot of strengths, and stability, and high standards and systems.” Nonetheless, TASC identified and sought to address three primary areas of weakness including access to funding sources, professional development, and opportunities for collaboration.

 

Increasing funding for afterschool activities

To increase access to funding, TASC deliberately sought to raise money from both private and public sources.  In its first year of operation, in 2000, TASC matched its initial challenge grant 3 to 1 with grants from private philanthropies like the Wallace, Ford, Robin Hood, and Mott Foundations and with government funding from the New York City Department of Education, New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, and United States Department Of Education 21st Century Community Learning Centers  TASC also developed organizational offshoots, such as New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) and New York State’s Advantage After School Program to advocate for more funding in the field and to help consolidate funding streams, which TASC then used to provides grants for schools and community-based organizations to create after-school programming. TASC describes New York State’s Advantage After School Program, as “a dedicated funding stream that provided matching funds for after-school services based on TASC’s model for high-quality, school-based services involving a strong school-community partnership.” By requiring its own grantees to match TASC’s dollars by at least 3 to 1 and providing assistance to help grantees apply for local, state, and federal grants TASC helped to spur public investment in after-school programming, reaching a ratio of approximately six public dollars for every private dollar raised.

 

Building an “industry” of afterschool support

TASC also provided advice and technical assistance directly to support the development of a number of mission-aligned after school related initiatives.  These included New York State’s Extended School Day/ School Violence Prevention program, New York City’s Out-of-School Time Initiative, New York City Summer Quest, and the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (whose continued funding has been a source of debate in the current US budget talks). In addition, in 2004, TASC incubated the National Coalition for Science After School, with a focus on piloting and developing effective models for after-school STEM programs.

 

In order to try to reach a larger group of organizations, TASC also helped to establish a variety of professional development opportunities.  As Friedman noted, at the time of TASC’s founding, there was little training available for community-based and afterschool educators. However, along with the Partnership for After School Education, TASC contributed to the emergence of what Friedman called “a new industry.” While TASC provided technical assistance on topics such as budget alignment, grant writing, partnerships with schools, and data management, university partners and the National Institute on Out-of-School Time helped to create professional development opportunities in areas such as effective learning environments and teaching styles, classroom and program management, and serving students with special needs.  Notably, these professional development offerings created differentiated learning opportunities to meet the needs of many of those involved in afterschool education including site directors, program leaders, program educators and staff.  Reflecting the expansion of support for the development of personnel and expertise throughout the sector, training even extended to include high school students working as counselors and assistants in summer and after-school programs.  While these initial efforts helped to develop key aspects of the infrastructure for afterschool programing, as Rashida Ladner-Seward emphasized, this capacity-building work also sent a strong message about the value of afterschool education and the professional nature of the work in which afterschool educators are engaged.

 

Providing research and advocacy

TASC also worked directly to create more supportive conditions for afterschool education by engaging in a variety of advocacy activities both in New York City and nationally.  For example, TASC helped establish the New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) which TASC considered “essential for keeping frontline practitioners and youth developers in constant conversation with state lawmakers and agency staff.” Noting increasing public desire for afterschool programs across the country, Ladner-Seward noted that the demand for capacity-building organizations like TASC was growing outside New York as well. TASC responded to that demand by advising on projects like the design of New Jersey After 3, the first state-wide, state-sponsored network of after-school programs in the nation. Nationally, TASC contributed to the development of the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to building public awareness and advocating for policies in support of afterschool programs across the country.

 

TASC also advanced this advocacy work by sponsoring research and evaluations to explore the impact of afterschool programs.  This focus on research had several benefits. For one thing, the research provided information that the programs could use to make improvements. Research and evaluations also provided opportunities to try to develop tools and measures that went beyond a traditional focus on academics.  At the same time, by attending to both traditional and other outcome measures, the research and evaluations helped to demonstrate the value of afterschool programs both as part of the school day and as valuable in their own right.

 

From TASC’s perspective, this research and advocacy work both helped to attract further funding to the afterschool sector and helped to provide the impetus for New York City’s Out-of-School Time initiative in 2005. With the establishment of this initiative, NYC announced its public support for and commitment to a system of after-school, holiday, and summer extracurricular opportunities for the city’s students, investing $200 million and providing over 600 programs free of cost to more than 80,000 students by 2008 (up from 50,000 students in the initiative’s initial year). The announcement coincided with Lights on Afterschool!, an annual event run by the Afterschool Alliance to create awareness of the importance of these programs. Chris Whipple recalls this event as “a moment of celebration and reflection,” as many of TASC’s goals for a system-wide network of after-school opportunities were institutionalized by the City. OST continued beyond the first three years of the initiative, rebranding itself in 2014 as the Comprehensive After School System of New York City (COMPASS NYC). As of 2016, COMPASS served nearly one million NYC students through over 900 programs.

 

*We will post the second part of this piece next week.

Headlines around the world: Academic Resilience and PISA

In December, we looked at headlines from around the world for Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) results. We also recently scanned the headlines around the world to explore PISA’s results around collaborative problem solving. In this post, we look at a working paper from the OECD released at the end of January. The paper, Academic Resilience: What schools and countries do to help disadvantaged students succeed in PISA, offers an overview of the countries and schools where disadvantaged students succeed on the PISA test. The paper defines “academic resilience as the ability of 15-year-old students from disadvantaged backgrounds to perform at a certain level” and looks at the importance of “school environments and resources in mitigating the risk of low achievement for disadvantaged students; and identifies school-level factors that are associated with the likelihood of academic resilience among socio-economically disadvantaged students.” We have here scanned headlines around the world to see how countries fared and responded to this report.

PISA Resilience Image

Source: OECD (2018)

 

Some highlights from around the world:

Australia:

Sydney Morning Herald–January 31, 2018

http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/the-factors-holding-back-australias-most-disadvantaged-students-20180129-h0qdgx.html

 

New Zealand:

Radio New Zealand (RNZ)–January 31, 2018

https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/349348/educational-results-falling-for-nz-s-disadvantaged

 

Israel:

The Jerusalem Post–February 1, 2018 

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israel-lags-behind-OECD-despite-low-socio-economic-students-improvement-540463

 

Germany:

Deutsche Welle–January 29, 2018

http://www.dw.com/en/germany-works-to-level-playing-field-for-disadvantaged-students/a-42353233

 

South Korea:

The Korea Bizwire–February 5, 2018

http://koreabizwire.com/academic-resilience-of-disadvantaged-s-korean-students-drops/110092

Lead the Change Interview with Emerson Rolkouski

Emerson Rolkouski graduated from the Federal University of Paraná in 2002 with a degree in Mathematics. He earned a Master’s degree in Education and a Doctorate in Mathematics from the State University of São Paulo – Rio Claro in 2006. Professor Rolkouski has experience teaching at the elementary school level and is a professor in the Federal University of Paraná, in Curitiba, Brazil, where he develops and researches public policies, teacher training, oral history, and numeracy. Professor Rolkouski currently coordinates the National Pact for Literacy (Pacto Nacional pela Alfabetização na Idade Certa—PNAIC) in Brazil and was the lead editor and creator in PNAIC.

In this interview, part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Rolkouski shares his perspectives on the role of public education, teacher support, and teacher education in Brazil. As Rolkouski puts it:

Brazil is a large country with more than two hundred million people including the population in Brazil’s remote areas. There is incredible diversity in Brazil due to its long history of drawing immigrants and people from around the globe. We have more than two hundred native Indian nations. The diversity makes Brazil a great country and offers us challenges for teaching to all populations. One of our biggest challenges is a lack of a national teacher training system, and in turn, some devaluation of the teaching profession. In this context, there lies opportunity for public policy to engage in national large-scale teacher training that works to alleviate the inequalities in opportunity among some student populations. In 2012, the Brazilian government has collaborated with several public universities to create the National Pact for Literacy (Pacto Nacional pela
Alfabetização na Idade Certa—PNAIC). The objective of PNAIC was to create a network
for and of primary school teachers. To reach all 300 thousand elementary teachers in Brazil, university Professors were paired up with 25 tutors each working with groups of 25 teachers on specific didactical materials. The intention of this work structure was to increase the quality of literacy training for our educators. Over time, this policy aims to increase educational opportunity for all students.

This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also interviewed Izhar Oplatka.

Translating Across Borders: A Conversation with Elsie Rockwell

When initiating ethnographic research with colleagues and students in the 1970s in Mexico, Elsie Rockwell, an anthropology and education professor at the Center for Advanced Studies (Cinvestav) in Mexico and recently the Edward Larocque Tinker Visiting Professor in the Teachers College Department of International and Transcultural Studies, found limited access to research in English in her university’s library. Although extensive academic exchange and the internet have solved this problem, she still finds conversation between US and Latin American researchers difficult. Though Rockwell’s work is now widely published in many languages, she notes a persistent lack of speaking across borders. We recently chatted with Rockwell about her work and the new book, Comparing Ethnographies: Local Studies of Education Across the Americas, co-edited with Kathryn Anderson-Levitt, which directly addresses these issues.

 

One of the spark’s for Elsie Rockwell and Kathryn Anderson-Levitt’s latest book came from a conference in 2013, hosted by the Inter-American Symposium on Ethnography in Education. The conference focused on “majorities, minorities and migrations in comparative perspective,” with Rockwell adding the word majorities because, in her words, “in Latin America, the idea of minorities doesn’t make sense.” The dialogues at this conference launched the idea of bringing together U.S. and Latin American scholars to work on comparative essays. Initially, Anderson-Levitt and Rockwell conceived of the project as simply an expansion of the presentations from the conference. Each session had included authors from different countries, with presentations being given in more than one language. This approach created a deeper transcultural experience that Anderson-Levitt and Rockwell hoped to translate to a book. However, in the process of creating these “dialogues” for a potential book, they noticed the work evolving toward comparisons of academic traditions of a very different nature in each place. The work was not simply the taking of themes like immigration and comparing and contrasting them across a North/South divide. Instead, the work became a conversation through which co-authors could reconceputalize ideas. To use the books summary, it offers “a fresh look at familiar concepts.”

To pursue these aims, the editors partnered with scholars from across the Americas, including Chile, Peru, and Argentina. Authors also partnered with U.S. scholars to write chapters on various themes. For instance, Patricia Ames and Ana Maria Gomes collaborated on a chapter on indigenous education in Peru and Brazil, resulting in interesting contrasts. Similarly, Gabriela Novaro and Lesley Bartlett wrote a chapter on challenging discourses on migration and assimilation in Argentina and the U.S. As scholars began writing together, Rockwell and Anderson-Levitt acted as mediators throughout the process, helping authors across contexts understand terminology and concepts. Authors often reached out to the editors saying “I don’t understand what the other author is talking about.” Authors relatedly came to discuss and critique similar concepts using different terminology. In the migration chapter, one author used the term “segmented assimilation” while the co-author used the term “subordinated inclusion” to convey a related concept. Rockwell describes these conversations as  requiring translation beyond language  that led to enriched theoretical perspectives.

Though the book opens new conversations across borders and offers new ways of understanding these issues, this line of work comes with certain risks. Rockwell hopes that publishing this book in the U.S. will encourage scholars to take up the challenges that Latin American anthropological traditions pose to the ways of thinking and working currently used in U.S.research, rather than simply to adapt ideas or cases to fit existing narratives. Even still, Rockwell contends that “all of the authors are committed to generating knowledge that questions existing policies.” The book includes an appendix of online sites for accessing Latin American as well as US sources in Anthropology and Education generally, and Rockwell invites readers to further explore research across the Americas.

Going forward, the Inter-American conversations launched by the 2013 conference and the book seem to be expanding. This year’s Symposium, jointly held in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, explored “Crossing Borders”, in multiple senses, and the next conference will hopefully be held in Lima, Perú. Contributing authors continue the conversation, for example in Educaçao e Pesquisa 41, 2015, Dossier “Significant currents of ethnographic research on education”. In March, Gita Steiner-Khamsi and Eduardo Weiss will discuss the Comparing Ethnographies book with the editors at the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) conference. Continuing this work will help conversations and translations moving across many different borders.

Learning About the EdTech Landscape In China from TechNode

This week, we highlight a recent post from TechNode, a leading international technology media platform in China.  The article provides an overview of China’s edtech landscape:

China in recent years have aggressively pushed various educational initiatives and reforms such as the abovementioned revamped gaokao system, and also improving literacy rates amongst children and developing rural schools. One such initiative deserves special mention: the change in direction to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (STEM) content, as well as the method of delivery: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). In light of these changes, progress and uptake in education technology (edtech) in China has been highly successful with no lack of local and international players in the highly competitive landscape.

The article offers a few examples of edtech work, including startups, preschool coding classes, and some of the drawbacks to China’s approach.

Elsewhere, TechNode has written about the evolution and impact of Chinese tech. In an interview in TechNode with Editor in Chief SupChina Jeremy Goldkorn, Goldkorn refers to this as “China’s Sputnik moment.” In another post, they run down China’s five most anticipated IPO’s of 2018, including Tencent Music, a streaming service, and Lufax, a peer-to-peer lender.

Lead the Change Interview with Melanie Ehren

Melanie Ehren is a Reader in Educational Accountability and Improvement at the UCL Institute of Education and head of the Centre for Educational Evaluation and Accountability. Professor Ehren’s work focuses on the effectiveness of accountability and evaluation systems and aims to contribute to a greater understanding of the interplay between accountability and the broader education system in tackling inequality and improving student outcomes. Her recent work includes EU comparative work on the
impact of school inspections on school improvement, the role of inspections and accountability in decentralized systems, and an ESRC-funded longitudinal study on the
interplay between trust, accountability and capacity in improving learning outcomes. 

In 2016, IEN shared her post on educational testing in the U.K. as well as a post specifically on maths testing.

In this interview, part of the Lead the Change Series of the American Educational Research Association Educational Change Special Interest Group, Ehren shares her perspectives on the role of public education in the U.K. and elsewhere. Ehren also points to the role of accountability in educational change. As she puts it:

What we have learnt from our work on school accountability is that (shared) ownership of change and standards of quality education by those who work in and with schools, combined with a strong focus on changing what works in improving (a broad range of) learning outcomes, is the most successful strategy for long-lasting change. Such shared ownership is created through (national) conversations between policy-makers, administrators, teachers, parents, and students to define what constitutes good quality education…These types of conversations ensure that educators, children, and parents are part of setting the standard for change, are on board with these standards, and that trust is created within the education system to work collaboratively towards sustainable improvement of all schools and to identify and address key barriers in a system that might prevent such change.

This Lead the Change interview appears as part of a series that features experts from around the globe, highlights promising research and practice, and offers expert insight on small- and large-scale educational change. Recently Lead the Change has also interviewed Izhar Oplatka.

Roundup of Education Reflections and Predictions 2018

This post originally appeared on thomashatch.org

Following up on our year in review post, we’ve added a roundup of education reflections and predictions for 2018.

 

With the New Year comes the usual flood of reflections and predictions.  Last year’s roundup highlighted key themes and issues related to school choice, new schools, and education and the economy.  This year, reflections on 2017 summarized education research (What we’ve learned: 5 lessons from education research to take into 2018, Chalkbeat); touched on philanthropy (Philanthropy Awards 2017, Inside Philanthropy); shared the thoughts of edtech’s “most seasoned champions and critics” including Larry Cuban, Mimi Ito, and Diane Ravitch (Reflections from 2017 for the journey ahead, Edsurge); and captured broader economic and societal issues in charts and maps (12 charts that show the real problems policies must tackle, not the made-up ones, Economic Policy Institute; 13 maps that explain 2017, CityLab). 

            Perhaps reflecting the slow pace of educational policy, some of the key questions and predictions for 2018 sounded a lot like those raised in 2017 (Trump, congress, and education in 2018: Eight big questions, Education Week).  Some predictions are decidedly pessimistic (Nine education predictions for 2018 — some of them heartbreaking, Larry Ferlazzo via The Answer Sheet); others suggest a more positive outlook – particularly for educational technology (4 augmented and virtual reality projects that point to the future of education, Justin Hendrix via Edsurge; OER had its breakthrough in 2017. Next year, it will become an essential teaching tool, Mike Silagadze via Edsurge); and some simply striving to identify which education stories will make the news (From DACA to Devos: Education predictions for 2018, Claudio Sanchez via NPR; 12 Important Education Storylines We’ll All Be Reading About in 2018, The74).

Predictions and reflections also centered on topics like philanthropy (7 Trends of 2017 and 11 Predictions for 2018, Nonprofit Quarterly) and higher education ( 7 Trends Coming in 2018, Julie Peterson & Lisa Rudgers, via Inside Higher Education).  Reflecting the local nature of education in the US, some predictions focused on specific states like New York, California and Indiana (As Gov. Cuomo lays out his 2018 agenda, here’s what that could mean for New York’s schools, Chalkbeat; California education issues to watch in 2018, Edsource; Here are Indiana’s most important education issues ahead of the 2018 legislative session, Chalkbeat). But, as usual, it was hard to find much in the way of predictions for education outside the US, except for some thoughts on future trends for the UK and India (Brexit, tuition fees and China: my predictions for academia in 2018, Simon Marginson via THE; The key edtech trends that will continue to impact education in 2018, Sivaramakrishan V via inc42).

Looking across the trends and predictions (and comparing them to years past) highlights again how many hopes are tied up in concepts like personalization, mobile and virtual learning, and in educational technology in general. Yet issues like school choice, charters, and even universal preschool education (a big issue in 2017) did not feature as prominently this year. In my own work, the emphasis on opening new (often small and/or charter) schools that dominated the 1990’s and 2000’s seems to be giving way to a new emphasis by many educational organizations on developing and disseminating new tools, resources, and curricula (often “open source”) as a way to expand their influence. Regardless, it is easy to predict that enduring issues – funding and the economy, segregation and inequality, the intransigent structures and “grammar of schooling” – will continue to challenge every effort to improve education, but that some progress can be made when those issues are taken seriously.

— Thomas Hatch