Friday, March 06, 2015

Expanding Our Approach to Education

Photo Courtesy of Beacon House
Education is a top issue in DC. There are constant debates around truancy, graduation rates, charter schools, credit attainment, assessment scores, teacher supports, community involvement, student engagement, and the list goes on. DCAYA focuses on one educational topic at the heart of these debates: Expanded Learning.

To give context, the Expanded Learning Model adds time to the school day by partnering schools with community-based providers (CBOs). These partnerships enhance the curriculum by bringing enrichment activities, led by CBOs, into the classroom to compliment the traditional school subjects taught by teachers. The partnership also allows teachers to spend more time planning the curriculum and engaging in professional development opportunities, while CBOs are working in the classroom with the students. DCAYA supports this model because it is a win-win situation for everyone: CBOs enhance the school climate, students are offered personalized and hands-on learning experiences, and teachers have extra time to plan and grade work without feeling overwhelmed and/or burnt out by the longer school day.

See all of the benefits of an Expanded Learning Model in DCAYA’s latest one-pager:

So what would it take for DC to adopt the Expanded Learning Model?

DC currently has certain pieces in place to smoothly transition schools into an Expanded Learning framework: a high-concentration of quality community-based providers, extended days for certain schools, and the infrastructure to facilitate community collaboration. In fact, DC already has an example of a functioning and thriving Expanded Learning Model at Kelly Miller Middle School through their partnership with Higher Achievement.

However, in order for DC to scale the model responsibly and successfully, District-wide data must be collected on afterschool and summer programming to fully understand the landscape. Both the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (DC Trust) and DC Public Schools (DCPS) are in a position to collaborate and gather such data, which would allow the District to begin building a strategy to connect schools with CBOs. The data would also be used to assess students current limitations and access to afterschool and summer programming and ensure that at-risk students are receiving ample educational supports.

To further understand the Expanded Learning Model and DCAYA’s 2015 policy asks, be sure to read the one-pager and reach out to our policy analyst Katie Dunn at for more information on testifying at DC Council hearings.

In addition to educating the public and policymakers about the benefits of an Expanded Learning Model, DCAYA is also advocating to protect current afterschool and summer programming. In the coming weeks, look out for another #LightsOnAfterschool social media campaign to ensure that Trust grantees receive full funding for their summer programs. 

To read more about youth issues in DC you can FOLLOW us on Twitter, LIKE us on Facebook and VISIT us at

No comments: