Expanded Learning – Grade Level Proficiency Beyond the School Day

Young boy reading book.

San José is home to an abundance of afterschool and summer program opportunities that currently exist, which are offered by City Departments, school districts, non-profit and community-based organizations, clubs, and private providers. While individually impactful, these programs operate separately, frequently without connecting the child’s experience to formalized school education, nor to other potentially beneficial program options. The development of a system that removes barriers, connects efforts on behalf of learners, develops and implements appropriate quality standards, and collects and reports data could be tremendously beneficial for both the families and the program providers in San José. Therefore, the goal for Learning by Grade Level Proficiency in San José is to expand learner access and program effectiveness by increasing collaboration in a networked expanded learning ecosystem. These programs for young people serve many critical functions: bolstering skills needed for academic success, supporting workforce development, keeping our youth safe, and increasing civic engagement.

Quality Standards

City-sponsored afterschool and summer programs reach an estimated 30,000 youth annually. Students spend 80% of their time outside of the classroom in after-school and summer spaces. It is key that all City-operated, funded or sponsored programs are of high quality, with well trained staff and built in assessment measures to ensure that this integral part of a holistic education is utilized as fully as possible.  The shift to embedding quality standards, evaluations, and a data-driven approach to decision-making within City programs will create a baseline for understanding current program success, and allow City staff to pilot programs that measure ongoing progress, creating a built in continuous quality improvement process to all City programs.

Quality standards and assessments already exist for programs for school aged kids- kindergarten through 12th grade. The majority of afterschool and summer programs in San José, and indeed, across the State of California, utilize the California Afterschool Network (CAN) Standards, which provide 12 focus areas of both overall point of service quality and program quality.

Community of Practice

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a group of people with a common interest or shared goal of gaining knowledge related to a specific field. It is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that members learn from each other, and have an opportunity to develop personally and professionally (Lave & Wenger 1991). CoPs often focus on sharing promising practices and constructing new knowledge to advance professional practice.

SJ Learns Community of Practice meets in person four times a year with a focus on continuous program quality improvement aligned to the California Expanded Learning Quality Standards and works towards the alignment of assessment with regard to program quality and learning.

SJ Learns

SJ Learns is a City-directed, City-funded grant that is available to school districts which aims to bolster academic achievement by expanding promising and innovative out of school programs for San José students in transitional kindergarten through third grade. Programs eligible for grant funds must serve the students most at-risk of not reaching proficiency in English-Language Arts and/or Math by the end of third grade. SJ Learns is intended to provide school districts with resources that leverage their own out of school time budget as well as that of any provider(s) it selects to ensure learning outcomes and increase the number of at-risk children who attend high-quality out of school programs.

In 2016-2018 school years SJ Learns provided funding and support for 1,141 students across 5 districts at 16 schools with 5 program providers. In the 2018-2019 school year, SJ Learns provided funding and support for 1,105 students across 6 districts at 16 schools with 4 program providers. Additionally, the San Jose Public Library Foundation has recently secured a contribution for $300,000 to support high-quality learning experiences in summer 2019 and 2020 for 600 students.


Are you on the hunt for programs and activities for your child to do when they aren’t in school? The San Jose Public Library and Santa Clara County Office of Education have teamed up to develop a city-wide student activity guide for San José. We’re working to make it easier to find great programs and activities for students, and increase family access to local summer and after-school activity opportunities. Why? Because our children benefit when we all work together to provide them with awesome programs and safe spaces to learn in while they aren’t in school.