Right At School Blog

How to Reclaim Unfinished Learning Time

The COVID-19 pandemic upended education in 2020, leaving many schools and families concerned about the consequences of unfinished learning.

Let’s take a look at the numbers, then explore how districts and schools are reclaiming unfinished learning time and improving academic outcomes with high-quality enrichment.

What the research says

  • The impact of the pandemic on student learning was significant, leaving students months behind in mathematics and reading.
  • Test scores in grades 3-8 dropped more between fall 2020 and 2021 than between fall 2019 and 2020, indicating that disruptions to learning have continued to negatively impact students.
  • 90% of K-12 public school employees are concerned about students in their school falling behind as a result of the pandemic.

What can school and district leaders do?

To reclaim unfinished learning time, many administrators are looking for strategies outside the traditional school day. As a result, a growing number of districts are turning to extended day enrichment.

 High-quality enrichment before and after school provides a tremendous opportunity to infuse extra learning time into the day — without causing student burnout. That’s one reason why the American Rescue Plan specifically allocates funding for after school enrichment (and summer camp) programs — and Right At School extended learning programs are fully eligible for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding.

Finding an extra 1,000 hours for learning

Every hour students spend at school beyond normal class time is a golden opportunity to enhance their educational experience and address the learning consequences of COVID-19. Children who participate in before and after school programs can spend up to five additional hours in school each day — or up to 1,000 extra hours per year under the care of educators.

Improving academic outcomes

A growing body of research suggests that children who participate in high-quality before and after school enrichment programs see improved academic achievement outcomes. This includes improvements in:

  • Math and reading grades
  • Homework completion
  • School attendance
  • Class participation
  • Engagement in learning
  • Graduation rates
  • And more

How to find the right partner

There are several things to consider when seeking a partner to provide extended day enrichment. For example, a high-quality provider will:

  • Deliver a clearly defined, intentional program structure that aligns with your district’s strategic objectives and priorities, thereby reinforcing school day learning
  • Provide opportunities for academic enrichment and social-emotional growth through a fully developed curriculum that is aligned to state and/or national standards
  • Offer enrichment activities in a variety of subjects including STEM, English language arts, literacy, social studies, fine arts, and more
  • Provide daily, consistent homework assistance that helps students think critically and reach answers on their own
  • Create a learning environment that is engaging and fun


Extra time for learning and fun

As districts continue to take steps to help students close academic gaps, before and after school enrichment can provide an effective way to add extra time for learning to each child’s day. With extended learning opportunities, districts can help students catch up, get excited about their learning, and make school an extra fun place to be.






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