An Expanded Learning Opportunity—or ELO—is a high-quality afterschool or
summer educational experience that takes place outside the context of the regular school day. These hands-on, experiential, enriching chances to learn that build on, but don’t duplicate, what students are learning during the school day, and allow new and exciting ways to interact with the subject matter.
We talk a lot about the need to make sure that ELO programs across the state are high quality. But what does that mean? What does high quality look like?
In 2013, the Nebraska State Board of Education issued a policy statement identifying elements of quality ELO programs.
- School community partnerships and resource sharing – ELO programs build partnerships that leverage the resources of the communities to provide better programming and sustain funding.
- Engaged learning – Activities are hands-on, compelling, in-depth and sometimes student directed, to promote critical thinking and expand student horizons.
- Family engagement – The program serves as an effective means to involve parents in the school community, making them more comfortable communicating with teachers and administrators.
- Intentional programming aligned with the school day – Quality programs build on what the kids are learning during the school day, allowing students to learn in different, more experiential ways. ELO professionals work with school-day teachers to make sure they’ve got the right programming, and to determine which students need more individualized attention.
- Diverse, prepared staff including certification – ELO professionals are youth development professionals and area specialists, who should reflect the diversity of youth they serve.
- Participation and access – Quality programs are accessible to the students who most need them – those from low-income families, non-English speaking households and those with other risk factors for low academic achievement.
- Safety, health and wellness – High quality ELO programs teach safety and nutrition, provide healthy snacks and meals, and ensure that students are getting extra exercise.
- Ongoing assessment and improvement – ELO programs that measure their outcomes can make changes to improve them even further.