ELOs are encouraging students to explore careers they never would have considered and are giving them the confidence to push themselves further.
Extended Learning Opportunities, or ELOs, are credit-bearing learning experiences that happen outside of the traditional classroom. They provide limitless options to deeply explore fields of study and career paths that students are passionate about, including those that may not be available through their school curriculum, and may even provide an alternative pathway to fulfilling graduation requirements.
Personalized, Immersive Learning
ELOs use resources within the school and community to create a unique learning experience. Working in collaboration, school faculty, students, and community partners develop an ELO that is relevant to each student and his or her course of study. This can take the form of an independent study, private instruction, internships, community service, or work-study.
Online classes and on-site work experience offer students access to people, resources, and curriculums that may not be available at their school.
A high-quality ELO is competency-based, not hours-based. These are immersive learning experiences where students can earn course credits, develop soft skills, professional skills, and research experience that they can leverage in the college and career application process.
ELOs Offer Students Learning Opportunities with Proven Results
ELOs are encouraging students to explore careers they never would have considered and are giving them the confidence to push themselves further. There’s plenty of data to confirm these stories.
A two-year study of ELOs in New Hampshire conducted by Research for Action, found that ELOs are improving outcomes for a wide range of students – including the traditionally underserved. Students participating in at least one school-facilitated ELO were more likely than non-ELO takers to accumulate credits and be on track to graduate. Twelfth-grade students who participated in school-facilitated ELOs scored higher on the SAT and were more likely to enroll in college than non-ELO takers.
Meeting Academic Standards with ELOs
ELOs can offer students a rigorous and rewarding educational experience within the right program.
Successful ELO programs engage students in developing a personalized learning plan and result in the student earning school credit. Developing competencies, benchmarks for success, and an effective means for assessment, as well as having a connection to an active community partner, are major components to a successful ELO experience. This helps build stronger schools, families, and communities.
How to Build an Effective ELO Program in Your Community
Creating a high-quality ELO program will improve student outcomes and develop a richer community relationship with the school system. The most effective ELO programs are those in which students, school faculty, and community and business leaders are all engaged, and include features such as:
- A full-time ELO Coordinator;
- Credit for ELOs in accordance with district and graduation requirements;
- Well-established community partner relationships;
- A district policy that supports the implementation of ELOs;
- Clear guidelines on how certified school;
personnel will oversee ELO students;
- Availability to all students; and
- Programs that are rigorous and challenging.
When building an ELO program, active leadership is a key element in success. Research shows schools with an ELO coordinator and active community partner relationships have significantly more student participation. Advocates for robust school-facilitated ELO programs are advocates for student learning.