The 6,000-Hour Learning Gap and Why It Matters

ExpandED Schools
2 min readJun 22, 2016


In the couple of years since we’ve launched our 6,000-hour learning gap video, we’ve seen it talked about all over the country — in the Hechinger Report, Education Week, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Financial Times, to name a few. But it’s more than yet another staggering statistic.

At ExpandED Schools, it is our rallying cry, and the reason we come to work every day. The fact remains that kids who are born into poverty are less likely to experience the same kinds of enriched learning — such as preschool, summer camp or after-school activities — as their middle class peers. By 6th grade, this gap can add up to 6,000 hours of lost learning.

To put that in perspective, 6,000 hours is the equivalent of five years in the classroom.

Why does this matter?

McKinsey and Company warns, “These educational gaps impose on the United States the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession.”

When only some of our kids have the opportunities to discover their talents and develop their full potential, we are all affected. Our nation’s health depends on the ability of all of its citizens to achieve success in the 21st-century economy and workforce.

This is why we continue to reimagine — and work with — our public schools to address this gap by expanding the school day, partnering schools and community organizations, and enhancing the quality of learning. When we add 2.5 hours to the school day, we give kids the equivalent of 72 more days in the school year. When we build bridges between schools and the community, we bring additional talent and role models into the classroom. And when we balance core curriculum with the arts, movement and hands-on, personalized learning, we develop the whole child, with equal emphasis on academics and social/emotional learning — building back in these lost hours.

Our ExpandED Schools model is a sustainable, scalable one that provides 35% more learning at only 10% more cost. And data from our schools indicates that expanded learning leads to better school climate, increased student engagement and improved academic performance.

So we will keep talking about this gap. And we will keep on with our mission of developing the full potential of all kids. In the past 18 years, we’ve reached over 804,149 students. But we’re just getting started.

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