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Ways to teach the CCSS in expanded learning settings — April 2014


Is there research—or at least good examples—about effective ways to teach the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in expanded learning settings (before and after school, lengthening the school day, lengthening the school year, programs that connect to activities at home)?


This memo includes reports and articles about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and out-of-school time (OST).

  • Citations include a link to a free online version.
  • Citations are accompanied by an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the author or publisher of the article.

We have not done an evaluation of these resources, but rather provide them for your information only.

Research References

Afterschool Alliance. (2014). Afterschool and the Common Core State Standards (Issue Brief No. 63). Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from

Excerpt: A shared view that becomes evident when reviewing both sides of the Common Core debate is that the standards—which are already being implemented in schools—are an approach to education that requires additional support for teachers, schools, and school districts to ensure that all students will meet its high expectations. Afterschool programs—many of which already focus on engaging students in hands-on learning experiences and long-term projects that require students to ask questions, dive deeper into content, experiment with concepts and think critically about problems—are an ideal partner to support teachers and schools in their work with the Common Core State Standards. Out-of-school time is a fitting and opportune chance to incorporate the Common Core principles and further build the skills and knowledge expected of students. While there are strong examples of schools and expanded learning programs collaborating on implementing Common Core, there is great untapped potential for future collaboration to ensure that students succeed under Common Core. [REL West note: This Issue Brief contains several examples of teaching the CCSS in expanded learning settings.]

Council of Chief State School Officers. (2011). Connecting high-quality expanded learning opportunities and the Common Core State Standards to advance student success. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from

Excerpt: This brief explores ways to strengthen expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) by building their connection to the Common Core State Standards Initiative (Common Core). The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is interested in both efforts and wants to support states in maximizing their impact to ensure the success of all learners… While most high-quality, school-based or school-linked ELOs already align with the capacities and practices that underlie the Common Core, typically these connections tend to be implicit. Few places have yet found ways to elevate the connections from implicit to explicit and to strongly connect the learning targets in ELOs to the academic content and skills in the Common Core. In 2009, to support state leaders with the work of ensuring high-quality ELOs, CCSSO and the NGA Center published The Quality Imperative: A State Guide to Achieving the Promise of Extended Learning Opportunities [see citation below]. The Quality Imperative includes action steps that can be used as guidance for ELOs to connect with the Common Core. This brief emphasizes the most pertinent actions and looks at examples of emerging state policies, practices, and programs that support connections between ELOs and the Common Core.

Devaney, E., & Yohalem, N. (2012).The Common Core Standards: What do they mean for Out of School Time? Washington, DC: Forum for Youth Investment. Retrieved from

Summary: The expansion of the Common Core State Standards in education opens new doors for out-of-school time (OST) providers to align their work with schools. The standards are front and center on the national stage as states, districts, schools and teachers prepare for their rollout over the next several years. Many OST programs are trying to figure out what exactly the standards cover, and how to support schools and districts in implementing them. The timing is right: The Common Core is emerging amid growing calls for expanded learning opportunities and collective action among schools and community partners. This gives the OST field a window to assert itself as a necessary part of children’s development and education. The goal need not be to replicate the core work of schools, but rather to complement, support and expand it. This brief describes the Common Core, shares examples of OST programs and systems responding, and recommends how the OST field might think about alignment opportunities.

Farbman, D., Goldberg, D., & Miller, T. (2014). Redesigning and expanding school time to support Common Core implementation. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress. Retrieved from

Excerpt: As states transition to the Common Core, it is imperative that the implementation of these new standards include policies and supports that increase the amount of time teachers have for collaboration and professional development and the amount of time students spend in school learning the new standards. Meeting the demands associated with the Common Core will be a challenge, but high-quality expanded learning time is one of the most far-reaching implementation strategies and can enable students to successfully meet these higher expectations.

Gunderson, J., Gonzales, L., & Wold, M. (2013). Linking Common Core and expanded learning. Leadership, 42(3), 18–22. Retrieved from

Abstract: After-school and summer programs are huge assets to the school day. Kids need time to play, explore and have fun, and after-school and summer staff are well suited to provide those kinds of experiences. Expanded learning programs have the unique potential at school sites where structured, facilitated conversations are taking place about student learning. They increase student time on task, highlight key concepts identified for student mastery, and more importantly, engage students with additional caring adults who provide support and help connect students to school. In light of the new demands of the Common Core State Standards, no time could be better for expanded learning programs to emerge as an effective best practice to support student learning.

Partnership for Children & Youth. (2013). Getting a head start on the Common Core. Oakland, CA: Author. Retrieved from

Excerpt: As school districts in California continue their transition to the Common Core State Standards, they face many challenges. Not the least of these is helping students adapt to changes in what is expected of them and what constitutes success in school. Educators have to navigate this change while under continuing pressure to provide extra support to lower-achieving students and dramatically improve their educational outcomes. At the same time, teachers are having to adjust their instructional strategies and lesson plans to address Common Core standards. Evidence from summer learning programs operating in California in 2013 suggests an innovative approach to addressing these challenges. These high-quality programs can prevent the summer learning loss that keeps students back and frontload some of the skills students need to succeed in a Common Core learning environment. They can also give teachers time and flexibility for experimenting with new strategies and curriculum. [REL West note: this Issue Brief contains several examples of teaching the CCSS in expanded learning settings.]

Princiotta, D., & Fortune, A. (2009). The quality imperative: A state guide to achieving the promise of extended learning opportunities. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers and National Governors Association. Retrieved from

Abstract: While research has shown that expanded learning opportunities (ELOs) can improve a variety of student outcomes, all ELOs do not produce similar results. Based on the quality of ELO programming and its implementation, it is even possible to see a negative impact on youth development. Therefore, chief state school officers, governors, and other state leaders should act to support the development, sustainability, and availability of high-quality ELOs. State leaders have initiated improvement efforts by developing program standards, creating program self-assessment tools, and providing technical assistance to local programs. State leaders can build on and strengthen these efforts by integrating them into a broader state ELO quality system. This publication, developed by CCSSO in partnership with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices with funding and support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, highlights the characteristics of high-quality ELOs and the specific action steps state leaders can take to lead the effort to implement a comprehensive state ELO quality system.

San Francisco Afterschool for All Common Core State Standards Learning Circle Project. (2013). Exploring the role of out-of-school time programs in the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. Oakland, CA: Partnership for Children & Youth. Retrieved from

Excerpt: A major shift of our education’s curriculum and assessments, known as the Common Core

State Standards (CCSS), is underway in California and across the country. Given the increased academic rigor and all-encompassing nature of the implementation of CCSS, it is vital for San Francisco to be intentional about the additional time and varying methods of engaging students in before and after school programs and summer learning programs alongside CCSS implementation. In 2011, the Afterschool for All (AFA) Advisory Council began exploring how to prepare out-of-school time (OST) providers for this transition, and ways to integrate the CCSS into their practice. After convening a small group of OST providers throughout the spring semester, the AFA Council decided to launch a more robust effort with OST providers in 2012–13 and to specifically focus on math to mirror the SFUSD’s efforts to train school day staff at some middle schools on CCSS-math. The project goals for the 2012–13 AFA Common Core Learning Circle included:

  • Define the role of Out of School Time (OST) providers in the implementation of Math Common Core State Standards (CCSS-M);
  • Provide an opportunity for OST providers to pilot math activities explicitly linked to CCSS-M;
  • Understand the training that would be needed from San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), the Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families (DCYF), and/or Afterschool for All Advisory Council (AFA) for OST programs to effectively translate CCSS-M to an OST setting; and
  • Understand what is needed to build collaboration between school day and OST teaching staff around CCSS-M.

In addition to these goals, this project’s longer-term objective was to inform technical assistance planning and demands related to the implementation of the CCSS. Ultimately, the hope is that OST providers are able to facilitate meaningful activities and experiences that reinforce the main concepts and competencies embedded in the CCSS and to build student confidence in applying those skills and concepts.


Keywords and Search Strings Used in the Search

“Common Core” OR “Common Core State Standards” AND “expanded learning” OR “extended learning” OR “extended time” OR “after school” OR “out of school time” OR “summer learning”

Search of Databases

ERIC, EBSCO, Google, and Google Scholar

Additional Organizations/Websites Searched

Education Commission of the States; Forum for Youth Investment; National Center on Time & Learning; Partnership for Children & Youth

Criteria for Inclusion

In general, when REL West staff review resources, we consider—among other things—four factors:

  • Date of the Publication: The most current information is included, except in the case of nationally known seminal resources.
  • Source and Funder of the Report/Study/Brief/Article: Priority is given to IES, nationally funded, and certain other vetted sources known for strict attention to research protocols.
  • Methodology: Sources include randomized controlled trial studies, surveys, self-assessments, literature reviews, and policy briefs. Priority for inclusion generally is given to randomized controlled trial study findings, but the reader should note at least the following factors when basing decisions on these resources: numbers of participants (Just a few? Thousands?); selection (Did the participants volunteer for the study or were they chosen?); representation (Were findings generalized from a homogeneous or a diverse pool of participants? Was the study sample representative of the population as a whole?).
  • Existing Knowledge Base: Although we strive to include vetted resources, there are times when the research base is limited or nonexistent. In these cases, we have included the best resources we could find, which may include newspaper articles, interviews with content specialists, organization websites, and other sources.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educators and policymakers in the Western region (Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory West (REL West) at WestEd. This memorandum was prepared by REL West under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-12-C-0002, administered by WestEd. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.