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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 be granted pursuant to 603 CMR 27.06 (1) for a three-year time period, subject to annual review by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) that indicates constructive results.

2024-2025 Student Learning Time Waiver Application and Review Process Timeline — For Implementation FY2025

May 31, 2024District deadline for submitting a non-binding letter of intent to apply is May 31, 2024. The letter of intent should be less than one page and provide a summary of proposed waiver request. Email the letter of intent to (please include "SLT Waiver" in the subject line).
June 7, 2024Department anticipates responding to letters of intent, indicating whether or not a waiver application is needed to implement proposed innovative programming.
June 21, 2024District deadline for submission of final waiver application.
July 5, 2024Department anticipates responding to the waiver application request with either an authorization or repudiation.

*A complete waiver application must include a signed assurances page. Please submit an electronic version of the complete waiver application 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.

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

Last Updated: March 14, 2024

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