Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) allow New Hampshire students to earn credit through learning experiences that happen outside the traditional classroom.
A credit-bearing learning experience
An ELO is a credit-bearing learning experience outside the classroom. It starts with competencies and a student’s interests. A quality ELO is different from a simple internship or online course because it is competency-based, not hours-based.
ELO ideas may come from:
- A career interest
- A community business, service or agency connection
- Art or music lessons
- A need to make up credit
- A compelling Essential Question
- An afterschool sport or club
- A desire to learn about something not covered by the curriculum
- A hobby
- And more…
ELOs are flexible. They can be:
- Individual or Group-based
- Out-of-school or Connected to a class
- Large-scale or Small scale
- Interdisciplinary or Subject-specific
- for ANY student
- in ANY subject
NH Minimum Standards
The NH Department of Education supports school districts to encourage extended learning opportunities. Section 306.27(b) of the NH Minimum Standards for School Approval addresses the minimum standards for extended learning opportunities, including what the school board policy should cover.
Research for Action (RFA) conducted a two-year study on ELOs (PDF, 34 slides, 2016) in New Hampshire.
They looked at two questions:
- How does the quality of implementation at the school level influence student participation in ELOs?
- What are the effects of ELO participation on short-term and longer-term student outcomes?
The study was funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF). Executive summary and full report
History and research
New Hampshire legislation allowing for credit-bearing learning outside the classroom dates back to 2005. In 2008, the NH Department of Education began a multi-year ELO Initiative with funding from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF). The initiative provided financial support and technical assistance to ELO pilot sites, facilitating development of school-level systems to provide students of all types with the opportunity to experience an ELO project.
The pilot and network schools shared practices, strategies, successes, and challenges. A pattern of best practices emerged along with a strong network of partnerships. These are captured in the Final Report of Evaluation (PDF, 2011), a comprehensive 18-month formative and summative evaluation of the initiative by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. There were eight research questions:
- What is the context for ELO implementation?
- How are ELOs developed and implemented?
- Who is served by ELOs?
- What are the characteristics of ELOs?
- How are ELOs assessed for credit?
- What is the quality of ELOs?
- What are the Initiative’s effects and short-term outcomes?
- What have we learned about supporting ELO implmentation, impact and sustainability?
- An ELO Coordinator is central to ELO system development, implementation and quality assurance.
- There is fluidity in the roles of ELO coordinator, community partner and overseeing educator.
- School have adopted different models for implementation, particularly regarding the role and time for teachers to support ELOs.
2011 ELO Initiative high schools
Schools involved in the ELO initiative included:
- Franklin High School
- Laconia High School
- Manchester Central High School
- Manchester West High School
- Manchester School of Technology
- Mascenic High School
- Memorial High School
- Monadnock Regional High School
- Newfound Regional High School
- Nute High School & Library
- Pittsfield Middle High School
- Raymond High School
Ready to begin?
Are you a teacher ready to try an ELO for an individual student, but your school does not yet offer ELOs? You can begin with an ELO tied to one of your classes by going to the Individual ELO Design page. Or, try the free online ELO short course.
Is your school is ready to design an ELO program? Begin with the ELO Program Design page.
Are you a student exploring your interest in an ELO? Look at the For Students page to answer your questions and see some ELO examples.
Click on “Present” to begin a visual tour of ELOs that covers the conceptual framework, an overview of tools, and how to get started.