Posts Tagged ‘America’s Promise’

Today 5/6/13 at 2pm! CCSSO & America’s Promise Alliance Hosting a #Webinar on Connecting Common Core with Expanded Learning Opportunities #ELO

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Leveraging Expanded Learning Opportunities to Support Common Core Implementation Webinar

On May 6, 2013 at 2 p.m. ET, CCSSO and America’s Promise Alliance will host a webinar exploring ways that Expanded Learning Opportunities, like afterschool and summer school programs, can help students achieve under the Common Core State Standards. The webinar will highlight Wisconsin and New Jersey as they use Expanded Learning Opportunities to help students prepare for the rigor of the Common Core.

Wisconsin Innovation Lab Network-Expanded Learning Opportunity integration team members Jenell Holsted, Ph.D. of University of WI-Green Bay and Alison Wineberg, State Coordinator of the 21 st Century Community Learning Center at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, will discuss the recent CCSSO Innovation Lab publication “Making the Connection: Next Generation Learning and Expanded Learning Opportunities”. This brief highlights six afterschool programs across Wisconsin that are exemplary in developing innovative ways of connecting with school day learning and supporting Common Core implementation.

Additionally, Sarah Cruz, Director of Expanded Learning Opportunities at the Statewide Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities, will share the work of the Supporting Student Success project—a statewide pilot of afterschool provider training on aligning programming to the Common Core State Standards.

This webinar will provide case studies, best practices, and lessons learned from states working to align Expanded Learning Opportunities to Common Core Implementation.

Click here to register for this webinar!

On the Ground in Afterschool: Building a Grad Nation Summit 2013

Friday, March 8th, 2013

What a day!  I was so inspired and informed.  I had the honor to be invited as a panelist in a February 25 Breakout session of the Grad Nation 2013 Summit in Washington DC. The Summit is hosted by America’s Promise Alliance, and three other partners.

In the session “Finding the Time: Building Support for Expanded Learning” my goal as a panelist was to talk about the role Afterschool can play in improving student achievement.  I was able to share NJ’s work in the national Support Student Success (s3) project.

For the NJSACC s3 project, we invited high quality afterschool programs also known as ELO providers, serving students in grades 6-8 to demonstrate how ELO’s can support student success with taking intentional steps to infuse the program content with Common Core State Standards (“the Common Core”).

The project goals were to raise awareness about the Common Core amongst the ELO providers in NJ, to identify effective practices and common challenges of ELOs working to support the Common Core and to establish evidence that ELO providers are key partners in Common Core implementation.

As NJ takes up the challenge of implementing the Common Core, the NJSACC team advising the s3 project believed that high quality ELO’s are an ideal partner.  The Common Core represents an important step forward for our public schools.  The Common Core was designed with the real world in mind, reflecting the knowledge and skills that NJ’s students need for success in college and careers and ultimately, to compete successfully in the global economy.

While NJ is clearly making bold moves to improve public education, significant budget cuts have forced school districts to seek ways to do more with less.  Increasingly, school districts are looking at out-of-school time hours in order to meet their goals in a cost-effective way.  In came the 10 programs that volunteered to participate in a year of working on this project with us.

They varied greatly: 21st Century Community Learning Centers, the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Community Education and Faith-based ELO providers all participated.

We supported their efforts by providing resources, guidance, introductory training and ongoing communication.  We asked that the programs develop plans to learn what the Common Core State Standards are and how they related to ELOs.  We wanted them to understand and demonstrate how ELOs can complement the learning that happens during the school day.  They were asked to make linkages between the Common Core and their program activities, and the overall work was intended to make stronger relationships with principals and teachers. They were asked to develop a vision and a project that would ultimately help prepare students for the challenges of the Common Core.

Ten different projects arose out of the 10 different groups that signed up to participate.  They varied from working on Professional Development for the ELO and school day staff, to developing clubs that specifically addressed English/Language Arts and Math standards of a particular grade group.  One program used their year of work to educate the students and families about what the expectations were to be when the Common Core became fully implemented.

The project achieved the general goals in a short period of time and much was learned along the way.  I was able to witness the programs in their efforts to be key partners in helping students achieve in school. The afterschool programs did it through fun, creative, hands on activities that are intentional in encouraging children to be engaged and interested in learning! They did it by engaging in purposeful Professional Development on Common Core integration.   They are still doing it, even after the pilot ended, because they saw how important the work was.

I had a short time at the panel to talk about the amazing work of the 10 programs, but the following are the major take away after 1 year working on the s3 project:

  • Relationships between afterschool and school day staff need to be strong, communication should flow well and frequently. Information about students should be shared in a way that is appropriate and with intention to help children succeed.  ELOs with established relationships with schools had more success in communicating about students’ academic needs.
  • Professional Development is a key factor in success.  Trainings can be shared.  The staff working before 3 PM and after 3 PM need the same quality of Professional Development and can share the resources on both sides of the bell to help students.    Non-certified teaching staff have more of a challenge comprehending the Standards but it can be taught. Common Core implementation requires careful analysis and proper training for all involved.
  • Programs that choose staff with strong interest in activities and making academic connections have more success with students.
  • Adults working with students during school and afterschool want to see the students succeed.

People ask similar questions each time I talk about s3. Do you have any questions?  Please use this link to ask your questions and give your comments and I will follow up.

I look forward to continue to share about the work that the pilot sites of Supporting Student Success.

Want to know more about Expanded Learning Opportunities? Join NJSACC and NJDOE who are partnering to present the ELO/Summer Learning Symposium on April 24, 2013. Hear from NJDOE, The National Summer Learning Association, The National AfterSchool Association, Liberty Science Center, The Newark Museum’s Maker Lab and more!

On The Ground in Afterschool.

Sarah Cruz


About Sarah Cruz, Director of Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO):

Sarah has been working with children and for organizations serving children and families since 1996. Currently, she is the Director of Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) for NJSACC.

Previously, Sarah was the Director of the Hanover Township School- Age Child Care Program (HTSACC), a program operated in a NJ Public School system. At HTSACC, Sarah facilitated the National Afterschool Association Accreditation of 3 public schools before and afterschool programs.

Sarah is a prolific trainer. Nationally, she serves as a National Association for Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Facilitator for the workshop “Aligning the Learning Day, Collaborating Strategies for Principals and Afterschool Program Leaders.

Sarah is a National Afterschool Matters Initiative Practitioner Fellow  and In 2001, Sarah wrote ‘Fantastic Finales,’ a compilation of activities for school age children. She attended Douglass College at Rutgers University and graduated with a BA in Urban Planning and a certificate in Professional Youth Work.

Sarah coordinates the activities of the NJSACC Afterschool Ambassadors, the NJSACC Afterschool CARES, Supporting Student Success and the PSE&G Energizing Afterschool Partnership.

Email Sarah here.

Twitter: @sarahNJSACC