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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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AUG
18
2017

RESEARCH
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Guest blog: Q&A with an afterschool researcher, part II

By Guest Blogger

Welcome to part II of our Q&A with Neil Naftzger, American Institutes for Research (AIR), about his evaluation work related to 21st CCLC programs specifically and the afterschool field broadly. Below are answers to oneof the questions we asked, with our emphasis added in bold, which establish that there is in fact clear evidence demonstrating that 21st CCLC work for students. To read part I, click here.

What changes would you like to see in terms of 21st CCLC data collection and evaluation?

This is a big question. First, I think we need to be clear around the purposes we’re trying to support through data collection and evaluation. Normally, we think about this work as falling within three primary categories:

  1. Data to support program staff in learning about quality practice and effective implementation
  2. Data to monitor the participation and progress of enrolled youth
  3. Data to assess the impact of the program on youth that participate regularly in the program

States have done an amazing job over the span of the past decade to develop quality improvement systems predicated on using quality data to improve practice (purpose #1). Effective afterschool quality improvement systems start with a shared definition of quality. In recent years, state 21st CCLC systems have come to rely upon formal assessment tools like the Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) and the Assessment of Program Practices Tool (APT-O) to provide that definition, allowing 21st CCLC grantees to assess how well they are meeting these criteria and crafting action plans to intentionally improve the quality of programming. Use of these tools typically involves assigning a score to various program practices in order to quantify the program’s performance and establish a baseline against which to evaluate growth. A recent report completed by AIR indicates approximately 70 percent of states have adopted a quality assessment tool for use by their 21st CCLC grantees. Our sense is that these systems have been critical to enhancing the quality of 21st CCLC programs, and any efforts to modify the 21st CCLC data collection landscape should ensure program staff have the support and time necessary to participate in these important processes.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Evaluation and Data
AUG
1
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool-law enforcement partnership gives justice-involved youth a new path

By Guest Blogger

By Rachel Willis, research project manager at the Kansas Enrichment Network.

  

After celebrating early successes, the Spartan Explorers afterschool program will continue through the 2017-2018 school year. Begun in January 2017, the program is a partnership between Emporia High School and the Fifth Judicial District Community Corrections in Emporia, Kansas, developed to better engage high school youth who are involved with the judicial system, truant, or on probation.

Both school administrators and community correction officers recognized the need to keep youth safe and busy between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m., when juvenile crime is most likely to occur. During the 2017 spring semester, 17 youth attended the program where they were given the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities.

“It was important to connect with the students socially, emotionally and educationally,” says Community Corrections Director Steve Willis.

JUL
28
2017

RESEARCH
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Guest blog: Q&A with an afterschool researcher

By Guest Blogger

In May, the proposed FY2018 budget eliminated funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the only federal funding stream dedicated to before-school, afterschool, and summer learning programs. In the budget, a justification given for the elimination of funding was that there is no demonstrable evidence that 21st CCLC programs have a positive impact on the students attending the programs. Although we have highlighted the existing body of research underscoring the difference 21st CCLC programs are making in the lives of students participating in programs, we decided to go directly to the source, asking someone who has conducted evaluations on 21st CCLC programs for 14 years. 

We posed a few questions to Neil Naftzger, American Institutes for Research (AIR), about his evaluation work related to 21st CCLC programs specifically, and the afterschool field broadly. Below are answers to two of the questions we asked, with our emphasis added in bold, which establish that there is in fact clear evidence demonstrating that 21st CCLC work for students. 

What are the strongest findings across your research on 21st CCLC programs? Do you see any important non-academic benefits from afterschool and summer learning programs?

JUL
19
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Closing the achievement gap for Latino kids

By Guest Blogger

By Diego Uriburu, co-founder and executive director of Identity.

By age 16, Elam had been out of school for two years. Although he’d dropped out of school the first time, he knew he needed to turn his life around and that the best way to do that was to complete his education. Going back to school was extremely difficult, but that’s where Elam found Identity, an organization that provides afterschool programs for low-income Latino students in Montgomery County, Maryland.

“I enrolled in school and worked hard, but my passion and my escape was soccer,” Elam says. “That’s how I first met Coach Efrain Viana, who came to school to recruit for the Identity league. What I liked immediately was that everyone got a chance and was treated like family. I wasn’t alone anymore. Identity pushed me to work hard in school as well as on the field, and to take every opportunity presented. Opportunities like college — Coach Efrain connected me with coaches at Washington Adventist University. I started last fall with a full scholarship.”

Elam’s story is just one of the examples of afterschool making a difference to the youth who need it most. But the futures of young people like Elam have been put in jeopardy as the administration moves to eliminate funding for afterschool programs.

JUL
17
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Texas celebrates win for afterschool & summer programming

By Guest Blogger

By Alison Reis-Khanna is the Executive Director of the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST) located in Austin, TX. As the leader of TXPOST, she is constantly advocating for all things afterschool including funding, data gathering, and improved quality. This is a blog on the legislation that passed during the 85th session in Texas on increased data collection of afterschool and summer programming.

The 85th Texas Legislative Session began with the release of a proposed budget that called for across the board cuts in general revenue spending. Substantial cuts were expected due to waning oil and gas prices and significant tax cuts passed during the 84th Legislative Session. Between the proposed budget cuts and the lack of bipartisan support, Texas politicos expected minimal legislation to be signed into law, and they were right.

The session ended with the lowest number of bills and resolutions passed during the previous 10 legislative sessions. Additionally, Governor Abbott was quick to use his veto power, vetoing 50 of the bills sent to his desk. This is the greatest use of veto power since 2007 in the state. From multiple perspectives, this session of the Texas legislature was unique and extremely challenging for many organizations and advocates.

JUL
12
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Stop cuts to summer learning

By Guest Blogger

By Rachel Gwaltney, Director of Policy and Partnerships at the National Summer Learning Association. Rachel leads development and implementation of services, projects and partnerships that strengthen summer learning policy and build capacity of state and national leaders and organizations.

Ann Arbor Rec & Ed celebrating National Summer Learning Day 2016

"Summer learning is a well-documented solution to supporting the academic and social growth of all students, yet, it remains an under-resourced strategy for closing the achievement gap in our country."

-NSLA's Founder and CEO, Matthew Boulay, Ph.D.

The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and a network of youth advocates recently came together to raise awareness about the importance of summer learning experiences, advocating for greater resources for local summer programming on Capitol Hill.

26 meetings with staff from offices representing ten states marked a productive Hill Day. Congressional staff from offices on both sides of the aisle reaffirmed the value of summer and afterschool programs and said they would work to maintain funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21CCLC) program.

Tomorrow is National Summer Learning Day and we’re counting on you to lift your voices to keep kids learning, safe and healthy! Here are three ways you can help:

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learn more about: Guest Blog Summer Learning Take Action
JUL
11
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Afterschool gave me hope of a future I'd never known

By Guest Blogger

By Aaron Short, assistant head of staff at 21st Cranston Community Learning Center Bain +2/Kidventure Afterschool Program. Aaron attended the Youth Session of the 2017 Afterschool for All Challenge and spoke to his members of Congress about the impact of afterschool on his life.

From the start of my life, I was taught a few things from living in the ghetto of Cranston, Rhode Island: I didn’t have a chance in life outside there; it was okay to join a gang when your family loses everything; and the ghetto will be my life no matter how hard I try. If you asked me where these ideas were picked up, I couldn’t tell you, but it was inescapable.  By the time I was eight, my ex-friends were talking about how much they’ve stolen from grocery stores. Although I didn’t know it at the time, in the fifth grade I saw future gang members starting their careers at the tender age of 10.

My mother worked her hardest to give me a better life, but the mounting costs of daycare and the needs of my newly-born sister kept moving us lower and lower towards poverty. I still remember a point when we were being threatened with eviction because we couldn’t afford to live in our small apartment. My school’s schedule didn’t help the situation, as my mother having to take her lunch break to drop me off at school and had to leave in the middle of the work day to pick me up. And anyone who starts a job with few credentials and leaves halfway through the year can’t hold that job for very long. The choice was simple: I could be safe after school, or we could have dinner.

JUL
5
2017

RESEARCH
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Evaluating afterschool: Building an evaluation advisory board

By Guest Blogger

By Jason Spector, Senior Research & Evaluation Manager at After-School All-Stars

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the sixth installment of our "Evaluating afterschool" blog series, which answers some of the common questions asked about program evaluation and highlights program evaluation best practices. Be sure to take a look at the firstsecondthird, fourth, and fifth posts of the series.

When I joined After-School All-Stars (ASAS) in 2014, I represented the sole member of our research and evaluation department. It was a great opportunity to craft a vision, and one that I greeted with excitement, but there was definitely anxiety as well. I was fresh out of grad school—learning how to operate in a national organization while also feeling siloed. To help break down the silos, our leadership encouraged me to develop a board of strategic advisors.

During the last few years, the National Evaluation Advisory Board has played a critical role in helping us grow our department, craft a vision for our work, develop a language and strategy around our program quality assessment, deepen our evidence base, and advance the intentionality of our program model. It’s a resource I highly recommend for organizations who are looking to become more strategic in their work.

If you decide to form your own evaluation advisory board, here are four key ideas to keep in mind:

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learn more about: Evaluation and Data Guest Blog