Boston Public Schools (BPS) and the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) partnered to turn around two low-performing Boston middle schools by implementing the Turnaround Using Increased Learning Time (TILT) model. The schools redesigned their school day to add 300 hours more per year, or nearly two hours of additional instructional time per day, for all students. The additional time is balanced between three priorities: more time for high-quality academic instruction focused on specific student needs, more time for enrichment programming such as inquiry-based science and social studies, and more time for teachers to collaborate to improve instruction and address student learning needs.
AIR examined program implementation to provide formative feedback to BPS and partner organizations and to document the implementation process. The primary goals of the evaluation were to help BPS and NCTL further refine and develop their model, including alternative resource allocation, scheduling, and staffing strategies to sustain the expanded school day beyond the Investing in Innovation grant; investigate and document effective practices to inform continuous improvement efforts; and provide evidence regarding whether the model is effective in turning around schools.
Inputs: To what extent are the schools receiving support and technical assistance to strengthen teacher and school leader effectiveness, use data to drive continuous improvement and strengthen core instruction, and create and implement a plan for increased learning time?
Outputs: Has additional time been added to the school day? To what extent has the capacity of school leaders and staff increased to use the additional time? To what extent is this time being used for core academic instruction, enrichment programs, and teacher collaboration?
Outcomes: Does implementation of the TILT model lead to greater academic achievement and student engagement?
- What is the impact of the Boston TILT initiative on student achievement as measured by the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System mathematics and reading scores? For students with disabilities? For English language learners (ELLs)?
- What is the impact of the Boston TILT initiative on student attendance? For students with disabilities? For ELLs?
- What is the impact of the Boston TILT initiative on the number of behavioral incidences students experience each year? For students with disabilities? For ELLs?
AIR examined program implementation to provide periodic formative feedback to BPS and partner organizations and to document the implementation process to enable replication or testing in other settings. Researchers collected implementation data through an annual teacher survey, conducted site visits twice per year, and produced a document review.
To measure the effect of the model, the evaluation used a comparative interrupted time series design to compare the outcome trends in TILT schools in the years preceding program implementation with the outcome trends in the years following program implementation to determine the following: (1) the extent to which there is a sharp improvement in TILT schools at the point of implementation and (2) the extent to which there is continued improvement in student outcomes after the initiative was introduced.
Findings from a concurrent qualitative study over the three years of the TILT program indicated that although implementation was a taxing experience for teachers, they were generally excited about its potential for students. One positive aspect of the program identified by numerous stakeholders at both schools was the availability of high-quality, supervised extracurricular programming for all students, regardless of background.
At the same time, several challenges also were identified, including a lack of continuity in programming over the school day, inconsistent supports for SPED and ELL students, and overscheduled students and teachers. These implementation findings might account for the findings of mixed student outcomes. Taken together, the findings indicate an overall positive outcome of the TILT program, with room for improvement inimplementation if continued.