Extended-time learning: three programs designed to meet the needs of elementary school students beyond the school hours

Effective schools have high expectations of all students. Every child should participate in curriculum which is engaging and emphasizes higher order thinking. The challenge is creating time for all students to participate in the rich curriculum of the regular classroom while providing basic skills support for those who need it. Extending the school day can help teachers meet the varied needs of a diverse student population. The purpose of this project was to develop, implement, and evaluate extendedtime learning programs at Beaumont Elementary School in Vista, California. Three extended-time programs are described: before-school GATE mini academies and newsletter writing classes, a homework club to provide students with assistance in completion of homework and classroom assignments, and an after school math unit focusing on multiplication concepts and facts. GATE students engaged in lessons that extend grade level curriculum and explore special topics while interacting with gifted peers. The GATE mini academies and newsletter writing class were developed and refined over a two year period and served as a model to develop the other two programs. The homework club was initiated in February, 1999 and served students for one hour before school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students in grades 1-5 received assistance from certificated teachers in a setting designed to provide materials, a quiet place to work, and help from a caring adult. The third program, a math focus unit, provided intensive instruction and practice in multiplication through a variety of activities for fifth grade students after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Small groups, strong parent involvement and commitment, instruction based on assessment of students, home learning kits, and use of incentives contributed to the success of the math unit. Recommendations and beliefs for effective leadership conclude the study. A summary of nine recommendations includes: providing support, curriculum knowledge, assessment, evaluation and data analysis, fostering creativeness and flexibility, creating opportunities to match personnel with student and program needs, parent involvement issues, and decision making about program effectiveness.