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Volume 25, Number 4
July/August 2009

Closing the Achievement Gap with Extended Learning Time

A voluntary program in Massachusetts takes root in city schools


Xavier Villalona, age 15, could once have been a poster child for a middle school’s failure to meet student needs. There just wasn’t much holding the charming but rebellious eighth grader to the crumbling and chaotic Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, Mass. Classes were a “bore”; some of the teachers “nasty.” He shrugs and says, “They weren’t too happy with me; I wasn’t too happy with them.” This is the “before” picture.

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Now the state of Massachusetts has come up with a way to better engage kids like Villalona through a state-funded initiative, the nation’s first, to support longer academic days along with high-quality afterschool enrichment. The Massachusetts Extended Learning Time (ELT) Initiative, launched in 2005 by the nonprofit group Massachusetts 2020 in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, now reaches 26 schools serving more than 13,500 students. At a cost of $17.5 million, the program allows schools to add 300 hours of programming per year.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

Edwards Middle School:

Fletcher-Maynard Academy:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School:

Massachusetts 2020:

National Center for Time and Learning:

National Academy of Education White Paper on Time for Learning: