RD430 - Executive Summary of the Targeted Extended School Year Grant Program – November 1, 2016

Executive Summary:
Overview of the Grant Program

This Executive Summary includes the activity of the Targeted Extended School Year Payments grant program for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

Since the General Assembly began appropriating and authorizing grants to extend the school year in FY2014, the Virginia Department of Education has administered the voluntary grant application and award process. In the four years of dedicated appropriations for this grant, nineteen different school divisions have received awards to conduct planning and/or start-up activities.

To encourage applications for the 2015-2016 grant program, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) promoted the availability of $7,150,000 in start-up funds and $613,312 in planning funds included in the FY16 Appropriation Act. The 2015-2016 grant cycle produced the largest number of grant-funded start-up programs, with one charter school within a division and nine other school divisions offering a Year Round or Extended School Year option.

Using the guidelines established by the 2015 Appropriation Act Item 135 R (Appendix A), VDOE awarded start-up grants totaling $5,140,089.64 to sixty-four schools in eleven school divisions. These schools implemented programs which served 7,310 students. Three of the divisions awarded start-up funds in 2015-2016--Henrico, Petersburg, and Roanoke--have operated programs for two school years through funds received in consecutive grant cycles. Two school divisions, Henrico and Petersburg, applied for and received $188,238 in planning grant funds for two middle schools and three elementary schools respectively. A total of $2,009,910 in start-up funds and $50,000 in planning was provided to 33 innovative programs. The remaining balance of $375,074 in planning grant funds reverted back to the general fund.

Grant requirements

Grant opportunities were shared with all Virginia school divisions in Superintendent’s Memo #153-15 (Appendix B). In addition, a dedicated webpage on the VDOE website offered grant information, applications, and instructions. The VDOE Division of Instruction provided technical support and coordinated the grant application process.

To be eligible to receive a grant, interested divisions or schools had to complete an application package and a detailed budget. Budgets were required to be used directly for program implementation and operation. Applications included narrative responses on the following elements of the proposed program:

1. The purpose, title, and description of the program, including goals and objectives and anticipated outcomes based upon the start-up work completed.

2. The names and roles of any other organizations or school divisions involved in the program and other relevant information.

3. Information on the necessity of opening prior to Labor Day, (if applicable) including opening and closing dates as well as a copy of the school calendar and duration of the waiver that would meet the “good cause” requirements of § 22.1-79.1.B.3, Code of Virginia, related to year-round schools.

4. Logistics for transportation and other support services affected by a year-round or extended year program.

5. Estimated student enrollment, including projected demographic information and the community served, and grades to be served.

6. A description of proposed community engagement and partnership activities to build support for the program and ensure sustainability.

7. Evaluation procedures, including mechanisms for measuring goals and objectives demonstrating student achievement goals (aligned with the Year Round Education and Extended School Year Annual Report Evaluation Matrix.)

8. A timeline and description of the initiatives and tasks involved in the start-up process.

Reporting Requirements

Year Round or Extended School Year Programs which operated during the 2015-2016 school year were required to report their progress on a number of inputs needed to ensure the viability and success of a new program, including staffing, transportation, and support services; steps to solicit and secure participation and support from a variety of stakeholders; and efforts to identify challenges to success and implement improvements as programs progressed. In addition, the grantees assessed the impact of their programs based upon their original goals. These inputs and outputs are highlighted in the narrative sections of the division annual reports included within this document.

The Department of Education provided parameters for grant recipients’ year-end reports, which included:

1) Executive Summary

2) Comprehensive description of the year-round or extended year project

a) The name and address of the school division, participating schools, and grant coordinator contact information.

b) The description of the program, including total days of instruction and hours of instruction per day and student enrollment total by demographics and grades or programs served.

3) Description of the barriers and facilitators to implementation, including amount of planning time, logistics for transportation and other support services, community engagement and partnerships with other organizations or school divisions, fiscal impact, and scheduling of professional development.

4) Description of changes in teacher and parent satisfaction and student engagement, including how each was measured and results found.

5) Data on the impact of the year-round or extended year project (Evaluation Matrix)

a) Description of metrics and changes observed to student achievement across all students and by priority groups compared to the academic year prior to implementation of the year-round or extended year project

b) Description of metrics and changes observed to teacher attendance and retention compared to the academic year prior to implementation of the year-round or extended year project

c) Description of metrics and changes observed to student attendance, average class size, and student behavior compared to the academic year prior to implementation of the year-round or extended year project

d) Description of metrics and changes observed to academic costs per pupil compared to the academic year prior to implementation of the year-round or extended year project

6) Description of efforts to sustain the year-round or extended year project model and whether the model will be offered in additional grades, programs, or schools

Programs offered

Each grant recipient took a different approach to the design and implementation of programs extending the school year or offering year-round instruction. Many targeted their offerings to students identified as having, or being at risk of, lower academic performance but also made programs open to all interested students. Most programs offered a balance of enrichment and remediation. Some offered intercessions during typical school vacation times, while others extended time for learning in nontraditional time periods such as evenings or weekends. Despite these differences, grantees reported a common commitment to finding new ways to engage students in their learning.

Albemarle County Public Schools offered a summer academy called “Design, Make, Launch.” This project-based learning experience was targeted for at-risk high school students with a goal to improve their achievement through engagement in authentic learning experiences in Music Production, Computer Coding, or Entrepreneurship. The program served 57 students and 18 students earned course credit.

Elementary students (K-5) in Bristol City Public Schools had the chance to participate in an additional 32 days of school through the BCPS extended school year program. Its program, “Beyond 180,” convened for 6 days during winter break, 4 days during spring break, and 22 days during summer break for a total of 32 extra days of instruction. Up to 150 students from four different elementary schools attended at the host school, which provided activities that promoted collaboration with peers and more engaging activities for students than a traditional classroom.

Henrico County Public Schools operated two programs in four schools. The College Readiness Center at Wilder Middle School had a school year extended to 203 days by adding six weeks of summer instruction and enrichment. During the 2015-2016 school year, 183 students took part in the program. The BRV Student Prep Program was offered at three schools within the same enrollment zone, each of which have high populations of students at risk for lower academic achievement (Baker Elementary, Rolfe Middle, and Varina High School.) The program was designed to help students successfully transition to each successive school level and beyond through school year remediation combined with an extended summer session. It provided participating Baker students with the equivalent of 224 days of instruction, participants at Rolfe Middle with 200 days, and Varina High student participants with 229 days. The program also offered an enhanced curriculum and/or elective class to build effective study and organizational skills and self-efficacy.

The charter school approved by Loudoun County Public Schools, known as Middleburg Community Charter School, provided an Intersession Program that offers additional two-week class sessions available to all students in the fall, spring, and summer. Students chose whether to attend the intercessions, but a special invitation was extended to students identified by teachers as those for whom the program might be beneficial.

Lynchburg Public Schools held its division-wide Extending Opportunities for Success Program through 3-day intersessions in both the fall and spring semesters in all 11 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 2 high schools and 1 pre-K early learning center. The program also included a Senior Intensive Program and Extended Summer Program. Plans are underway for a fourth component, an after-school credit recovery program in partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Central Virginia.

Manassas Park City Schools offered two intersessions at the end of the first and third nine weeks with targeted academic interventions, enrichment opportunities, transportation, and meals. This program extended the school year from 176 to 186 days for participating students.

Newport News Public Schools created “WE LEAP” (Extended Learning, Enrichment & Advancement Program) for the second semester of the 2015-2016 school year and summer of 2016. The grant gave the system the capacity to add five Saturdays of extended learning in April and May 2016; 19 Days of Intersession Learning and Enrichment in July and August 2016; and four days of “WE LEAP Jump Start” to support a successful transition to the 2016-2017 school year in August. The transition program included rising kindergarten students at each of the elementary schools and rising sixth graders at a middle school to ease new-school transition.

Petersburg Public Schools adopted a year-round model that added twenty instructional days for all students in two schools, A.P. Hill Elementary and Peabody Middle School. For these two schools, the academic year began in August with scheduled intersessions in October, January, and March. A.P. Hill Elementary School had a student population of 464 students including 327 students identified as economically disadvantaged, 12 students identified with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), 61 students identified with at least one disability, and 451 African American students. Peabody Middle School enrolled 525 students in grades 6-8 with 339 of those students identified as economically disadvantaged, 14 as Limited English Proficient (LEP), 73 students with at least one disability, and 502 African American students.

The YRS/ESY program at Radford City Schools had four components: evening school for students suspended from regular school day attendance, May intervention and remediation sessions, and a three-week Extended School Year program offering both remediation and enrichment. Through these efforts, 274 students were enrolled and those most in need of attention received explicit instruction in an environment that offered direct and individualized attention.

Roanoke City Public Schools has steadily expanded a program it deemed RCPS+. This program offered student-learning opportunities before the traditional academic year began. It ran for 29 days from June 13 – July 22 with 5 ½ hours of instruction per day for rising 1st-9th graders. For the 2015-2016 grant cycle, RCPS+ served 22 different schools at nine different sites in which over 3,300 students enrolled. The remedial and enrichment opportunities focused on early preparation in reading, writing, and math. RCPS+ included engaging weekly themes, and activities in science, robotics, technology, art, and movement. Teachers were selected based upon demonstrated academic success in the previous academic school year and a commitment to return for the next academic year.

Program Outcomes

VDOE developed an evaluation matrix for all start-up grantees to use to report quantitative data from the 2015-2016 programs (Appendix C). The matrices included in the division reports are populated with information specific to the Year Round or Extended School Year programs as reported directly by the grantees. The matrices include data from the 2014-2015 year as a comparison year before 2015-2016 programs began operation.

For consistency and efficiency of reporting student achievement data across programs, VDOE accessed existing attendance and student achievement data available from the state data system to examine outcomes for participants in each Year Round or Extended School Year program. While the data do not show any significant changes in attendance, students participating in Year Round or Extended School Year programs increased their Standards of Learning (SOL) scaled scores on the 2015-2016 reading and math assessments compared to the year prior. Student performance is graded on a scale of 0-600 with 400 representing the minimum level of acceptable proficiency and 500 representing advanced proficiency. For reading, participating students increased their mean scaled score from 397 in 2014-2015 to 404 in 2015-2016. For math, participating students increased their mean scaled score from 402 in 2014-2015 to 406 in 2015-2016.

The increase in SOL scaled scores was apparent for reading across seven of the nine Year Round or Extended School Year programs for which data were available while two programs indicated no change in scores. For math, eight of nine programs for which data were available showed an increase in scaled scores while one program indicated a slight decrease (see Appendix D for scaled scores by program).

While increases in scaled scores cannot be solely attributed to program participation, the findings indicate, in combination with other factors, that Year Round and Extended School Year programs may have some benefit on student achievement. In subsequent years of program implementation, additional comparisons by student group and year-to-year student growth should also be considered.

Although the challenges, approaches, and local contexts differed among recipients of the Targeted School Year Grants for 2015-2016, grantees reported encouraging feedback along with quantitative results. Here are a few of the responses included in their individual reports:

“Since...being awarded the VDOE grant, student and teacher participation in intersession has more than doubled. Overall so far this school year, 89% or 101 of our 113 students participated...by attending one or both weeks in the Fall or the Spring.”

“(Our system) believes by encouraging students to try new things and experiences, they will develop broader background knowledge and academic success. “

“Students, most of all, enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with their peers as daily they were provided with activities that required teamwork. Students expressed their enjoyment of the program and felt their learning time was fun during the additional days.”

“The VDOE Grant has allowed [us] to offer quality Intersessions, Saturday Academies, and Afterschool intervention classes. Bus transportation was also available to our families (through the Grant), which was another factor in the increase of attendance leading to the success of the program.”

“[Our] major takeaways include a substantial spike in engagement when students have choice and ownership of their learning.”

“...families surveyed expressed their support for the program that provided additional learning time for their students. Meeting the needs of the whole is provided throughout the extended school year program. The opportunity for their child to be fed and to be in a safe, structured environment during a time that normally requires child care and additional supervision when the schools are not in operation was noted.”

“...teachers positively expressed the appreciation for small group instruction in a relaxed learning environment. Teachers appreciated the flexibility to be able to focus on skills that needed to be taught and how to reteach these skills to participating students…Furthermore, the impact of student learning during intersession days resulted in small group instruction with hands on learning experiences.”

Clearly, this grant program has enabled a number of Virginia’s school divisions and schools to explore new approaches to learning for their students. During their year of implementation, grantees seized the chance to provide unique academic and experiential opportunities for a variety of students, many of whom are working to overcome challenges and inequities that can impact achievement. For them, equalizing outcomes takes more than simply adding instructional hours; it takes dedication to ensuring extra time brings educational and enrichment experiences that students may not receive otherwise.

Through the variety of impacts illustrated above, and in the division reports to follow, one critical commonality is clear. The 2015-2016 Targeted Extended School Year Grant Program was a significant state-level commitment to giving recipient schools, teachers, and students both the impetus and the resources to try innovative and engaging ways of reaching students in order to propel them toward greater academic and life success.