Hinsdale’s Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) program was recognized by the American School Boards Association as one of the most innovative programs in the country to advance inclusion, equity, and remove barriers to achievement for underserved and vulnerable students.
The ELO program was written about in the April 2018 publication, the American School Board Journal, along with 17 other programs nationally that promote educational equity.
Seven years ago, Hinsdale School District committed to making a shift to personalized learning for all students. At the high school level, school leaders envisioned opportunities for their students that may take place in or beyond the school building. They knew that their class offerings were limited, just by the nature of the small size of the district, but they also knew that they had a supportive community that historically had always encouraged the growth of new opportunities. The district started an extended learning opportunity (ELO) program that would encourage and develop educational opportunities that were personalized for every student regardless of their learning ability and or socioeconomic status.
Hinsdale was one of the first schools in the state to decide to fund a position for a full time ELO coordinator. This program is designed to allow students to learn at any time, in any place, and in any form that best reflects their learning styles— and to allow students to follow their passions and dig deeply into a career path that they feel will help them grown into a successful 21st century learner.
An ELO at Hinsdale consists of the student, community partner, an overseeing teacher and the ELO coordinator. Together, this team incorporates competencies that reflect the content of the work at the business site that the student is engaged in. It develops performance tasks that allow the student to get an authentic learning experience and gain knowledge and skills that can be demonstrated and assessed in an exhibition of learning. Each ELO takes on shape with the student guiding the experience and the adults acting as coaches to help them gain a depth of knowledge and inquiry along the way.
HOW DOES THIS PROGRAM SEEK TO REMOVE THE BARRIERS TO ACHIEVEMENT?
Hinsdale is a rural area, and business/education opportunities are often spread out between bordering states. Hinsdale’s commitment to allow access for every student to this program is evident by the fact that is has purchased two vans and hired drivers to ensure that students who have no means of transportation can access this program and not allow transportation to be a barrier.
EVIDENCE OF THE PROGRAM’S SUCCESS
The ELO program began seven years ago with six students in 12th grade only. This year the program has grown to over 50 students ranging in grades nine to 12. The district currently works with over 100 different business partners. In the past two years, students from the program have been asked to speak at conferences about their ELO experience, and the ELO coordinator has presented at state and national conferences and convenings about the implementation of this type of personalized education.
Read more about ELOs in New Hampshire:
- ELOs help to personalize learning and provide more opporunities in small rural schools
- Navigating Our Way: Respecting and Supporting All Pathways to Success
- Hypertherm and Fujifilm Dimatix provide Lebanon-area students with unique learning opportunities
- Ready in the 603: Opportunities for all students to have the future they want
- Reaching Higher NH ELO Resources