After-school, summer programs a focus in California’s Common Core rollout
As California school districts implement the Common Core State Standards in English and math, more of them are looking to after-school and summer programs to help acquaint both teachers and students with the new approach to learning.
Learning beyond the regular school day that emphasizes hands-on experiences, allows students more time to grasp difficult concepts and builds social skills is often referred to as expanded learning.
“Several years ago, our challenge was to explain that expanded learning is not childcare or babysitting,” said Julia Fong Ma, coordinator of after-school programs for the Oakland Unified School District. “Now sometimes we are being asked to do too much because we are playing such an integral role.”
A preliminary review of 60 Local Control and Accountability Plans, which are meant to guide spending for districts for the next three years, found that 81 percent mentioned after-school or expanded learning programs and 85 percent mentioned summer programs, according to Jessica Gunderson, policy director for the Partnership for Children and Youth, a nonprofit based in Oakland that promotes expanded learning programs, which did the review.
“The numbers are much higher than I expected,” she said, adding that the level of detail in the plans varied widely and that some districts could have strong programs and not include them in their plans because they aren’t allocating any new funds to the programs. For example, Oakland Unified has one of the most robust summer and after-school programs in the state, yet there is only one mention of expanded learning in its plan, she said.
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