School Redesign

Student Learning Time Waiver Process Overview

In April 2013, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education delegated to the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education the authority to approve waivers of the Student Learning Time regulations for good cause. Pursuant to this authority, the Commissioner may grant waivers to permit districts to initiate innovative programs intended to improve student learning. Student Learning Time Regulations (603 CMR 27.00).

Under 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 elementary school students are scheduled to receive a minimum of 900 hours of structured learning time per school year and secondary school students receive a minimum of 990 hours of structured learning time per school year. Kindergarten students must receive a minimum of 425 hours of structured learning time per school year. Further, the Student Learning Time Regulations outline an educational program that is primarily in person and any flexibilities defined in structured learning time (including directed study, independent study, technology-assisted learning, presentations by persons other than teachers, school-to-work programs, etc.) may be components of structured learning time, but may not constitute the primary educational model.

About the Waiver Process

The intent of this waiver process is to permit districts to provide innovative programs and schedules that will benefit students educationally and improve student learning. This waiver process is not intended for emergency cases or extraordinary circumstances (e.g., natural disaster) that force the temporary closing of one or more of the district's schools. The innovative programs considered under this waiver application should focus on addressing an unmet student need in the district. Waivers may be granted for high quality innovative schedules or educational/instructional methodologies that are supported by a sound educational rationale and accountability for results. Programs approved for a waiver will receive the waiver for the 2021-2022 school year only, subject to a mid-year and end of year review by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department).

Summer 2021-2022 Expedited Student Learning Time Waiver Application and Review Process Timeline — for Implementation FY2022

June 11, 2021District 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).
June 18, 2021Department anticipates responding to letters of intent, indicating whether or not a waiver application is needed to implement proposed innovative programming.
July 2, 2021District deadline for submission of final waiver application.
July 23, 2021Department anticipates responding to the waiver application request with either an authorization or repudiation.

*A complete waiver application that includes a signed assurances page must be submitted in order to have the waiver application reviewed. Please submit an electronic version of the completed waiver applications to the Department's Office of Charter Schools and School Redesign at: (please include "SLT Waiver" in the subject line). The signed assurances page may be scanned and sent electronically.

Download Word Document
2021-2022 Student Learning Time Waiver Application
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Evaluation Plan Guidance

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

Last Updated: June 4, 2021

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

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