Extended Learning Time Grants

  • Description
  • Funding History
  • Proposals
  • Expert Commentary

The Extended Learning Time (ELT) grant program supports several Massachusetts schools expanding the traditional school year by at least 300 hours. The addition of ELT allows schools to add instructional time for core academic subjects, while also integrating more enrichment opportunities such as arts, sports, and experiential learning. ELT schools can also provide teachers with more common planning time and professional development opportunities.

Schools receiving grants are allocated up to $1,300 per pupil, with much of this money going towards compensating teaching staff for working longer hours or for hiring additional educators to work these extra hours. Priority is given to schools districts with high levels of poverty and a high percentage of students scoring low on MCAS exams. In FY 2014, ELT schools had an average of 77 percent low-income students and 17 percent English Language Learners.

During the 2015-2016 school year, over 12,000 children in 11 districts and 22 schools participated in state ELT grants. Expansion of the program has been limited by state appropriations, with new schools being added in only 2 of the last six years since FY 2010. The purchasing power of the $1,300 per-student grant, which has not been adjusted to inflation, has decreased over time, limiting the ability of schools to offer engaging and diverse programming with the ELT grant alone.

The Commonwealth’s ELT program was the first state-level effort to increase learning time and has been extensively studied by the Department of Elementary and Secondary education and outside researchers. Abt Associates, a research firm based in Cambridge, completed a multi-year comprehensive evaluation of ELT grants in 2012 and found that although the programmatic elements of ELT were implemented, there was a wide range of quality in the implementation. These studies showed that these schools utilized the additional time for core academics, enrichment, and teacher planning, but that student fatigue and disengagement with the longer day was a notable challenge. In general, ELT schools did not outperform comparison schools. This study suggested that some comparison schools were also improving academic performance, in part by using practices undertaken by ELT schools.

Updated October 2016

The evidence makes clear that expanded time holds (the potential to improve student proficiency and a child's entire educational experience) because more time confers three distinct, though overlapping, benefits for both students and teachers:

  1. More engaged time in academic classes, alongside broader and deeper coverage of curricula;
  2. More time devoted to enrichment classes and activities that enhance students' educational experiences and engagement in school; and
  3. More dedicated time for teacher collaboration and embedded professional development that together enable educators to strengthen instruction and develop a shared commitment to high expectations.

National Center on Time & Learning, The Case for Improving and Expanding Time in School