The grant will be used to develop an afterschool Extended Learning Opportunities model that would enable students to earn academic credit outside of the traditional classroom by demonstrating that they have gained knowledge and skills and have met pre-established course competencies as a result of the experience. Opportunities would include earning English Language Arts credit by working with a professional at the local newspaper or earning Social Studies credit by researching local historic sites under the guidance of the local historical society.
Course competencies will be aligned with state education standards, giving school systems a way to assess student learning so high schools can begin to grant credit toward graduation for learning gained outside the traditional classroom. According to the foundation, studies have increasingly found that high-quality programs beyond the traditional classroom setting can provide positive developmental opportunities and improve students' academic performance.
The four schools participating in the pilot program are Franklin, Laconia, Manchester Central, and Newfound Regional high schools. In addition, Monadnock Regional and Oyster River high schools have been selected as "extended network sites" and will observe the planning process with an eye toward implementing the program in the near future.
"This project represents a significant investment in the foundation's grant portfolio because it aligns with our new work to support the redesign and improvement of educational systems in New England," said NMEF president and CEO Nicholas C. Donohue. "We hope the Extended Learning Opportunities concept proves successful so that every high school student in New Hampshire will have the chance to achieve at the highest academic level."