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Members Named to Serve on Newly Formed Expanded Learning Opportunities Council

by Jon Sayer | | Posted under Policy & Legislation, School's Out News

Legislatively mandated council will explore ways to increase access to Expanded Learning Opportunities as an innovative strategy to close the achievement gap.

Olympia, WA – The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction announced this week members appointed to serve on the Expanded Learning Opportunities Council, authorized by legislation passed during the 2014 legislative session. Members of the council represent both the formal and informal education sectors including: Association of Washington School Principals; State Board of Education; Washington Association of School Administrators; Washington State School Director’s Association; and community-based organizations such as the Northwest Community Action Center in Yakima, Peace Community Center in Tacoma and School’s Out Washington representing the diverse array of other community and school-based programs providing Expanded Learning Opportunities statewide.

Expanded Learning Opportunities are structured learning environments that support students outside of the traditional school day, including before and after school and during the summer months. They partner and build linkages with schools to create enriching experiences for students with the goal of improving academic outcomes.

Research tells us that Expanded Learning Opportunities are an innovative strategy proven to be effective, to support kids in achieving positive results in school and in life. In particular, there is a growing body of research around the importance of summer learning programs in preventing summer learning loss, the loss of skills during the summer months which contributes to two-thirds of the widening achievement gap between low and middle to high income students. The council will provide vision, guidance, assistance, and advice related to potential improvement and expansion of summer learning opportunities

With so many students in our state struggling and a growing achievement gap that disproportionately impacts students of color and low-income students, the Expanded Learning Opportunities Council allows for planning to happen to build and to develop a comprehensive action plan designed to close this widening gap.

“Currently our education system is not meeting the needs of thousands of students in our state. When we see students of color and low-income students disproportionately dropping out of school and struggling in school, we know there’s a systemic issue at hand that must be addressed,” explains Janet Schmidt, Chief Policy & Program Officer at School’s Out Washington. “Research shows that expanded learning opportunities can be a key strategy to supporting students academically and in developing social/emotional skills. I look forward to further examining how we can improve policy in Washington State to integrate ELOs into our education reform efforts.”

The first meeting of the Expanded Learning Opportunities Council will be held on July 16, 2014. The council will be charged with providing a report to the Governor and the Legislature by December 1, 2014, and each December thereafter until December 2018.

The full list of Expanded Learning Opportunities Council members can be found here.

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