A pilot program at Crowell Elementary School will provide additional learning time for students in the campus’ transitional kindergarten and kindergarten classes during the 2017-2018 school year, due in part to both a desire from the community as well as willing administration and staff looking to create more opportunities for students.
The decision to implement an extended day pilot program at the elementary school came as a result of data gathered through the Local Control Accountability Plan process, which showed the public’s interest in the District providing such a program. Additionally, employees at Crowell showed an interest in providing another pathway for students to succeed, said Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Heidi Lawler. She added that more class time could greatly benefit the student population, which scored below average on the 2016 state testing.
“Crowell School has a number of factors which support the importance of additional learning time, including a high percentage of socio-economically disadvantaged families and many English learners,” said Lawler.
Approximately 84 percent of students at Crowell come from socio-economically disadvantaged families, and 37 percent of students are English learners. According to the school’s principal, Margaret Osmer, just 35 percent of the school’s first grade students are reading at or above grade level.
Crowell has already taken a number of steps to address its students’ needs, including participation in the Stanislaus READS! Program, use of technology, a reading club and a summer learning program.
According to Lawler, research from the National Association of School Psychologists suggests that students in transitional kindergarten and kindergarten classes with additional time benefit from higher long-term achievement, especially in the case of students with socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Students in extended day programs also receive higher reading scores in early grades, get held back less, are more social and tend to be more creative. They can even exude higher self-esteem and independence, according to the research.
All TK and K students who are enrolled at Crowell for the 2017-2018 school year will participate in the pilot, and their achievement will be monitored as they move through the grade levels. Parents may opt to apply for an inter-district transfer if desired, with space permitting, said Lawler.
Teachers will be provided with additional professional development in order to make sure they have the “means necessary to provide the highest quality ‘first dose’ instruction in order to increase academic and social-emotional achievement,” she added.
While new to Crowell, the extended day program is not new to the District. In Wakefield’s initial year of its dual immersion program (2016-2017), an extended day program was implemented for the school’s TK and K classes to provide additional learning time for students receiving instruction in both Spanish and English. TUSD doesn’t plan to stop at two extended day programs, said Lawler.
“TUSD is very interested in expanding the extended day TK/K program to other sites,” she said. “In the future, space permitting, additional schools may have the opportunity to offer extended TK/K as well.”