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Student Learning Time Waiver Process


In April 2013 the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education granted the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education authority to approve waivers for innovative programs that are expecting to operate for fewer than the required hours and/or days established in the Massachusetts Student Learning Time Regulations (603 CMR 27.00).

Pursuant to the regulations, school committees are required to schedule a school year that includes at least 185 days at each school, and must operate the schools for at least 180 school days in a school year. In addition, schools must ensure that students are scheduled to receive a minimum of 900 hours of structured learning time per school year for elementary school students and a minimum of 990 hours of structured learning time (defined by the regulations, 27.02) per school year for secondary school students. Kindergarten students must receive a minimum of 425 hours of structured learning time per school year.

About the Waiver Process

The intent of this waiver is to enable innovative programs and schedules that will benefit students educationally and improve student learning but do not meet structured learning time requirements. This waiver is not intended for emergency cases or extraordinary circumstances that force the closing of one or more of the district's schools (e.g., natural disaster). The innovative program proposed by this waiver should focus on addressing unmet student needs in the district, and may include innovative schedules. To be successful, applicants must demonstrate that their innovative program, including innovative schedules, is supported by a sound educational rationale and includes accountability for results.

Waivers will be granted for a three-year cycle, and will be reviewed on an annual basis by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) to determine whether the innovative program is providing a quality, innovative education for students that justifies maintaining the waiver. The annual review will include the district's evaluation plan (detailed information is included in the waiver application), results of the stated objectives, and any relevant additional data determined by the Department. The Department reserves the right to rescind a waiver at any time.

2015-2016 Student Learning Time Waiver Application Timeline

October 30, 2015

District deadline for submitting a non-binding letter of intent to apply that includes a short (less than one page) summary of proposed waiver request to (please include "SLT Waiver" in the subject line)
November 13, 2015

Department anticipates responding to letters of intent, indicating whether or not a waiver application is needed to implement proposed innovative programming
December 4, 2015

District deadline for submission* of an optional draft waiver application to receive Department feedback
December 18, 2015

Department anticipates providing feedback to districts that submitted draft waiver applications
January 25-29, 2016

District deadline for submission of final waiver application
March 7, 2016

Department anticipates providing waiver application authorization

While the Department strongly encourages applicants to adhere to the timeline posted, waiver applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Submission Instructions: waiver applications must be submitted via email to (please include "SLT Waiver" in the subject line). The signed assurance form can be submitted electronically or faxed to (781) 338-3220.

Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
2015-2016 Student Learning Time Waiver Application
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Current Flexibilities under the Student Learning Time Regulations
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Evaluation Plan Guidance

For questions related to the Student Learning Time Waiver Process, please email

Last Updated: September 3, 2015
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