Monday, June 1, 2015

Introducing the Expanded Learning 360°/365 Project

Sam Piha
By Sam Piha

In the last decade, research on learning and the brain, and the impact of social-emotional and character skills, has expanded our understanding of learning. Currently, we are witnessing a significant pivot from a narrow focus on academic performance, measured by standardized reading and math test scores, to a broader perspective of young people’s development that includes and promotes social-emotional and character skills.

This shift is based on recent research on the importance of social emotional learning, non-cognitive skills, growth mindsets, and character skills. Much of this is reflected by the new Common Core State Standards, the CORE Waiver’s focus on social-emotional accountability, and Expanded Learning Quality Standards being developed in many states.
In order to see this shift fully realized, a number of capacity building organizations came together to form a new project, entitled Expanded Learning 360°/365: Skills for Success in School, Work, and Life. These organizations include ASAPconnect, California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC), Learning in Afterschool & Summer (LIAS)/Temescal Associates, and Partnership for Children and Youth.

This project is designed to help policymakers, district and school leaders and expanded learning providers better identify and integrate social-emotional and character skills into their work with young people. We will accomplish this by:

  • Clearly defining the role that expanded learning plays in social-emotional and character skill development,
  • Promoting that school and expanded learning leaders work together to integrate teaching strategies around these skills across the school day and into expanded learning time,
  • Working with policymakers and district leaders to integrate these ideas into the policies that guide and govern schools and expanded learning programs, and
  • Identifying and developing trainings and curriculum for school and expanded learning staff that include best practices for supporting these skills in their young people.

Because we have seen a recent proliferation of lists identifying critical skills for youth, it is easy to see why some afterschool leaders are confused – “Which list is most important; which list should I use?” The Expanded Learning 360°/365 project convened a research work group to distill these lists into a more useable list - a single list. We will share more in a future post. Meanwhile, to learn more, click here.