Last month, organizations across the US celebrated Summer Learning Day, a nationally recognized day to raise awareness and support for summer learning and enrichment. We, along with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, commemorated the day by releasing More Than Supply and Demand: The State of Technical Assistance for Expanded Learning Programs in California.
In our nine-year engagement with the Packard Foundation’s After-school & Summer Enrichment Subprogram, we’ve seen that technical assistance (TA) is a promising strategy to improve the quality of expanded learning programs. But, as part of a complex system, TA providers’ abilities to connect with programs, and programs’ ability to use TA are constrained by scarce resources and the sprawling geography of expanded learning programs across the state.
In the context of these system-wide constraints, we have found that six factors influence whether and how expanded learning programs access TA:
These “influencers” present compelling leverage points for affecting change in the system of TA for expanded learning programs. Effectively manipulating these influencers could widen channels between TA providers and programs and make the most of already-strapped funds for program quality improvement.
In this brief, we’ve also identified the numerous entities, from state to local levels, involved in the expanded learning TA ecosystem. We see this brief as a vehicle for bolstering an ongoing conversation about how these entities can come together to improve expanded learning programs in California:
- For expanded learning program providers, it illuminates diverse pathways to TA and identifies the different entities providing it
- For TA providers, it identifies the demand for TA and where their work can be most effective
- For funders and policymakers, it provides insight into specific areas of the expanded learning TA ecosystem where investment can yield the most change
The TA ecosystem is an example of how many players can come together to nurture an infrastructure of support and continuous improvement—a model that has potential to transcend the expanded learning field and provide lessons learned to the field of education more broadly, and beyond.