For some high school students, classroom pressure and social anxiety can be stumbling blocks as they strive to excel in their courses. The answer to their struggles may be as simple as providing them with the opportunity to meet with teachers one-on-one and the time to complete schoolwork in a more relaxed, low-stakes environment.
That’s precisely the idea behind Extended Day Programming (EDP), a “change idea” that has been implemented across the RISE Network this academic year. Change ideas enable us to evaluate a specific focus area and spend time planning and testing innovative strategies for improvement, adjusting as needed. RISE has developed our change protocol into four steps: Review, Innovate, Spark, and Expand.
EDP has emerged as a high-impact program on a national level, given that it reaches many students and has been shown to positively improve student success outcomes and academic performance in meaningful ways.1 2 The RISE Freshman Success Team (FST) has worked with schools to identify root causes and challenges they are facing around student access to EDP. Because alternative and/or extra academic support helps to lower school attrition and promote greater connection to the school community, and owing to the importance of on-track success in Grade 9, the FST is focusing on EDP as their key change idea this year.
By choosing this core activity to focus on, RISE will be able to collect data from all schools to determine exactly how impactful this program really is (and early data is already promising – read on!) And as we better understand how students and teachers experience this program, we can pinpoint successes and identify areas of improvement for the future.
RISE’s primary goals for the EDP change idea are capacity building and student engagement. To achieve these, our FST sought to implement Extended Day Programs that meet at least once quarterly in each of our network schools, with 50 percent or more of the invited students participating consistently in the program.
Beyond these shared goals, RISE schools have the flexibility to define what each of their programs will look like. Each school is providing the opportunity for students to complete school work and receive interventions during a non-curricular time, whether that be during lunch, study halls, after school, or on Saturdays. Some schools have invited all of their Grade 9 students to participate, while others are focusing on those students who are failing, or “on the cusp” of failing, two or more classes. Some schools have decided to focus their EDP sessions on one subject area where students are struggling. Schools with steady on-track rates are running programs once at the end of each quarter as a catch-up day.
“We believe in EDP because you get more touchpoints with your students,” says Gretchen Philbrick, RISE Freshman Success Coach. “Working with students outside of the classroom provides a unique opportunity to work together in an environment that nurtures both academic and social growth.”
The RISE team created EDP workbooks introducing their school partners to our “Review, Innovate, Spark, and Expand” process and helping with tracking progress throughout the year. They utilize these workbooks to engage in an evaluation process during quarterly check-ins, pivoting if any changes are needed.
And the results speak for themselves! Across Q1 and Q2, over 800 of the 1,400 invited students participated in Extended Day Programming, representing a 57 percent attendance rate and exceeding our network-wide goal. Additionally, in those schools for which we are able to monitor students’ on-track status, there were 96 students whose status changed from almost on-track or off-track to on-track after they had attended at least one EDP session.
One particular success story is at Manchester High School (MHS), where the entire freshman class was invited to participate in EDP, and as of the last session, 45% of the class (or 184 students) have attended one or more sessions. They credit their excellent attendance rates to their strong focus on recruitment, which they have done by integrating information about EDP into their existing daily classroom procedures.
Their EDP sessions, which are held on Saturdays once every five weeks before progress notes and report cards come out, are staffed by teachers specializing in math, science, social studies, language arts, and special education. During the sessions, students enjoy a relaxed environment where they have the autonomy to make their own schedules, requesting support from educators if needed.
MHS has fully embraced EDP as a change idea and iterative process, learning and adjusting throughout the academic year. In Q1 they discovered that Saturday sessions were the most productive for students, in Q2 they offered additional sessions both on Saturdays and after school, and in Q3, their On-Track Coaches planned their support around pertinent assignments for students on their caseload and created personalized notecards for each student, so the team plans to scale this strategy for all of Grade 9 in Q4.
Language arts teacher Kaitlyn Kennedy, who coordinates EDP at MHS, says that she and her team “are thoughtful about pausing after a session and reflecting on what went well and what we would do differently. This shows in our results, as we not only have a wide variety of kids participating, but also, many are coming back.”
Overall, what we are finding across the RISE Network is that students who participate in EDP sessions are consistently engaging and that schools are having success with student retention from session to session. Some schools have been so encouraged by the results thus far that they have decided to elevate and fully invest in Extended Day Programming as a priority initiative.
“So many schools in the Network are willing and able to run these programs above and beyond the parameters RISE has set, even finding ways to fund the program all year long,” says Kristen Negron. “There is a value to the schools that have done EDP on a weekly basis, as students know it is an option no matter what time of year.”
Reflecting upon the positive impact of EDP for our students, she continued, “Coming out of the pandemic, some students are scared to try. This provides a place for the student to try without 25 other eyes on them.”
1The Value of Out of School Time Programs, the Rand Corporation.
2 Closing the Gap through Extended Learning Opportunities, National Education Association.