Afterschool: An Ally in Promoting Middle School Improvement

The Afterschool Alliance released a new MetLife Foundation Issue Brief highlighting the many ways afterschool programs can support school improvement efforts within struggling middle schools.

According to the United States Department of Education, there are 5,000 chronically underperforming schools—roughly 5 percent of all schools—in the U.S. Though high schools receive much of the blame for high dropout rates, the middle school years can often be the first step for students falling off the track of graduating from high school on time. Across the country, afterschool programs are working with community partners, complementing the learning that takes place during the school day and bringing new teachers and mentors to the school improvement table to help better engage middle school students.

Afterschool: An Ally in Promoting Middle School Improvement” says: “Most notably, afterschool programs can offer an environment that reinforces the new atmosphere developed in an improvement school and provide new opportunities for children in need of innovative, active learning experiences. Afterschool programs also present an avenue for community involvement in school improvement efforts and have been proven to increase academic achievement, improve students’ attitudes toward school and reduce antisocial behaviors, all of which are keys to successful school turnaround.”

The Issue Brief highlights research demonstrating the effectiveness of incorporating afterschool programs into models for middle school development and broader school improvement efforts. It also features examples of afterschool programs successfully partnering with schools to offer engaging activities that promote a school’s new vision and academic achievement.

It is the latest in a series of Issue Briefs examining the vital contributions of afterschool programs. The MetLife Foundation provides generous support for the series. “Afterschool: An Ally in Promoting Middle School Improvement” was released at the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Summer Institute in New Orleans last month. It is the first of four briefs focusing on critical issues facing middle school youth and how afterschool programs can address these issues. The remaining middle school briefs will address: digital learning opportunities; family engagement; and arts enrichment.

Read the new Issue Brief on middle school improvement here.

This story originally appeared in the Afterschool Advocate (Vol. 13, Issue 8).

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