The disparity in educational outcomes between student populations is one of the most serious challenges facing our public education system. Gaps in test scores, graduation rates, and college readiness pose a fundamental problem that school officials must solve.
Education leaders cannot address these inequities by looking at the school day alone. They also need to consider the significant amount of time and the varied experiences young people have outside of school. Free and affordable learning experiences after school and in the summer are essential strategies for equalizing student outcomes. Under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), districts have greater regulatory and financial flexibility, accompanied by an increased expectation that they will address achievement gaps for low-income students, English Language Learners, and foster youth. The time is right for California school districts to maximize these expanded learning opportunities.
This brief describes why and how California’s local education leaders are mobilizing expanded learning to close the opportunity gap, and recommends some key steps for districts.