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The Scope of Extended Learning Time Also called extended learning time or expanded learning time, extended learning is all about educational programs or strategies intended to increase the amount of time students are learning, for varied purposes, such as: improving academic achievement and test scores, reducing learning loss, learning gaps, and achievement gaps. When school’s results show that students are not performing or achieving at expected levels, the extended learning time is an effective strategy. However, there are also optional learning-enrichment programs, which require increasing the amount of time for students to learn, but in this aspect, this can be viewed as elective or non-required opportunities for students to enhance or further their education; therefore, this type cannot be considered under the extended learning time objective. Another strategy is to extend school days and school weeks to increase the amount of time, where students can further do the following: engage in learning opportunities in areas, such as sports and arts; learn through non-traditional experiences such as apprenticeships or internships; or get academic support as part of their school days or years. These are examples representing the list of widely used strategies for the extended learning time program, which varies from state to state or from school to school in the US. The strategy of expanded school years are added to the number of days students are required to attend school. Because states determine the minimum number of required attendance days, to validate the extended learning time program and increase the minimum school attendance requirements, state legislatures or department of education may pass legislation to that effect.
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Students can receive instructions from teachers and other educators and have the following learning activities: participate in clubs, competitions, performances; learn through nontraditional learning pathways, such as internships and apprenticeships; or receive academic support from educators and specialists, with the expanded school days and school weeks program.
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Another way for the school to apply extended learning time for students is to increase or supplement instructional time during the regular school day. Example models of this strategy are: schools may eliminate study halls and replace them with academic courses, like tutoring sessions; schools may also increase course and credit requirements for graduation (math or science), which require students to spend more time learning these subjects. Other strategies are the summer school, winter sessions, school-break programs, and summer-bridge programs, which extend learning time for the students who are performing poorly in their academics, so that they can have the opportunity to accelerate their learning progress. Before-school programs and after-school programs are school-run or school-affiliated learning opportunities that are introduced before or after regular school hours, for the purpose of supplementing student learning. Digital and online learning options can also be considered as an extended learning time, such that when students have long completed their homework or project outside of regular school hours, new learning technologies, such as instructional interactions found online, are becoming a convenient trend.