As most students are heading home from school, students at Grant Beacon Middle School stay longer each day. That extra time is filled with enrichment, athletics, academic interventions and advanced classes. The school’s extended day, combined with other innovative methods, is successfully closing the achievement gap for its student population which comes mostly from low-income families.
Grant Beacon is one example of several Denver schools that are seeing strong success with Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO), an approach Rose Community Foundation has long supported. “Extending the hours in a school day or year, blended learning (technology in the classroom), and competency-based progression (when students progress based on mastery of information) are all examples of ELO models,” explains Janet Lopez, Rose Community Foundation senior program officer in education.
In September 2013, practitioners from schools and districts around the state had the opportunity to see Grant Beacon’s innovative approaches in action. We partnered with the Colorado Department of Education and The Colorado Education Initiative to host a “Seeing is Believing” tour of Grant Beacon and other innovative schools. Eighty teachers, principals, superintendents and policymakers were able to observe successful teaching models and consider how to implement such practices in their own schools.
The tour clearly made an impression. One teacher was brought to tears by the successful results she witnessed. Several reported implementing immediate changes; while others are now completing supplemental learning programs. “I was able to see real schools tackling real problems in different ways, which helps me think how I can make the learning experience at my school better,” says one teacher.