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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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FEB
15
2018

IN THE FIELD
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Former Ed Sec John B. King highlights educator superpower: We tell children they belong

By Jillian Luchner

Last week I attended a Title I Conference in Philadelphia. The “Title I” name may be as generic as they come, but it is one of the most important Titles in education policy.

The purpose of Title I, which was recently reauthorized in 2015 in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), is “to provide all children significant opportunity to receive a fair, equitable, and high quality education and to close educational achievement gaps.” To meet this goal the law includes federal funding that gets distributed to support lower income students and schools. Title I funding can be and is used effectively in schools and districts for quality afterschool programs as well as other efforts.

"The best antidote to oppression is education.”

Dr. John B. King, former U.S. Secretary of Education, and currently the president of The Education Trust served as the keynote on the conference’s first night. King remarked that education in the United States is in fact making progress. For example, scores on a nationwide standardized test (NAEP) continue to trend upward and graduation rates are increasing hitting a nation-wide high of 84% last year. However, he cautioned, we must be mindful of the gaps – such as those in which our higher income students achieve academically, graduate high school and complete college at much greater rates than our lower income students.

The same gaps are seen between white students and students of color, marking an especially salient fact in light of February being Black History Month. These academic gaps, Dr. King noted, are really a function of opportunity gaps.

King takes a dual approach to problem solving when confronting the opportunity gap. The first is to provide equitable resources in schools; for example, helping to incentivize the strongest teachers where they are most needed, investing in initiatives that have been shown to work to close gaps such as early education and Pre-K, and placing school counselors and advanced academic options in schools where they are limited. While not mentioned by King directly, access to high quality afterschool programs are another essential piece of this puzzle.

JAN
22
2018

STEM
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Stay informed about STEM with the Afterschool STEM Hub newsletter

By Leah Silverberg

Brought to you by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the Afterschool Lab Report is dedicated to continuously providing advocates with the tools they need to make the case for out-of-school time STEM learning. The Afterschool Lab Report is sent each quarter, and includes the latest policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new research in the field. Written by the subject area experts at the Afterschool Alliance, the Afterschool Lab report is your one-stop-shop for STEM education advocacy needs.

Who should subscribe?

Short answer: anyone with an interest in afterschool STEM education! While the tools are geared towards advocacy, our talking points, and communications materials can be used by anyone to effectively make the case about why afterschool STEM learning is important. If you run a program, build local or state systems, conduct research, or design policy, the Afterschool Lab Report has something for you.

October's Lab Report included:

It is not too late to stay informed and sign up to receive the January edition of the Afterschool Lab Report to your inbox! You can also check out the past editions and the rest of the Afterschool STEM Hub website any time online.

DEC
21
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Wallace & RAND brief: ESSA can support SEL

By Jillian Luchner

Since the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) originally passed in December 2015, afterschool partners have been able to use their expertise in youth development to build on the newfound flexibility that ESSA provides for states, districts, and schools around the country toward the goal of well-rounded support for all students. An especially promising avenue for the field is the new opportunities that have arisen around social and emotional learning (SEL). Numerous studies have shown that social and emotional learning can support many areas of student development and achievement, but there have historically been few opportunities to advance SEL through the formal education system. While ESSA does not explicitly mention SEL, there is a strong case to be made that the bill provides a wealth of new opportunities to advance SEL interventions both in and out of school.

On December 13, RAND researchers in coordination with researchers at the Wallace Foundation hosted a webinar highlighting how SEL interventions fit into the structure of ESSA. Focusing largely on the findings of the RAND Corporation’s recently published brief, “How the Every Student Succeeds Act Can Support Social and Emotional Learning,” presenters shared some good news: RAND has identified a menu of 60 SEL interventions that meet the requirements laid out by ESSA.

JUL
21
2017

POLICY
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Afterschool shines in ESSA implementation hearing

By Erik Peterson

On July 18, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Education (HEW) convened a hearing entitled “ESSA Implementation: Exploring State and Local Reform Efforts.” The hearing focused on what states have done so far to develop their consolidated state accountability plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and whether the federal government and the Department of Education (ED) need to do more or less to assist in their development and review.

A recurring theme of the hearing was the pending appropriations debate that would potentially shortchange a number of ESSA and education related programs. The hearing also included a robust conversation on supporting students through afterschool and summer learning programs, and Dr. Gail Pletnick, president of the State Superintendents Association (AASA), emphasized the point that afterschool programs are key investments in supporting student attendance and achievement and engaging students and parents in education.

MAY
5
2017

POLICY
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Legislation proposed to fight chronic absenteeism

By Jillian Luchner

In April, Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) introduced the Chronic Absenteeism Reduction Action (H.R. 1864), which would open up additional funds to be used for strategies to reduce school day absence by amending Title IV-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Defined as an individual student missing a significant number of school days (usually 10 percent or more of the school year) including excused and unexcused absences, chronic absenteeism is associated with lower academic performance. The bill contains three main provisions to expand use of authorized Title IV-A funds (also known as Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants) to reduce chronic absenteeism:

  1. Data collection to monitor student progress
  2. Partnerships with local service providers (such as health, transportation and social services) to meet the unique needs of students with struggling attendance
  3. Mentoring programs

Each of these provisions is backed by research showing the positive effects these actions have on reducing chronic absenteeism. As the legislation notes, "students who meet regularly with mentors are 52 percent less likely to miss a day of school than their peers."

The bipartisan bill is endorsed by a number of youth development, health, justice, and education groups including the Afterschool Alliance, National Mentoring Partnership, School Superintendents Association, Campaign for Youth Justice, and Healthy Schools Campaign.

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learn more about: ESEA Federal Policy Legislation
FEB
16
2017

POLICY
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What will House resolutions of disapproval mean for ESSA implementation?

By Jillian Luchner

By Ellen Fern, Managing Director at Washington Partners

On Tuesday, February 7, the House of Representatives voted to overturn Obama administration regulations regarding accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as well as regulations relating to teacher-preparation programs.

H.J.Res.57, which would overturn regulations regarding accountability under ESSA, passed by a vote of 234-190. A few more Democratic members signed on to pass the resolution overturning teacher-preparation regulations, H.J.Res. 58, by a vote of 240 – 181. Both regulations were subject to the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows lawmakers to overturn regulations from the previous administration within a certain period of time. 

The CRA has never been used on education regulations, so if the regulations are overturned via a similar vote in the Senate, it is unclear how the Department of Education would proceed as far as issuing guidance or new regulations. If the regulations are overturned, the Department will be barred from issuing "substantially similar" regulations on these two issues before lawmakers reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Higher Education Act, respectively. At the very least, if the accountability regulations are overturned, the deadlines of April 3 or September 8 for states to submit ESSA plans for Education Department approval, with implementation to start in the 2018–19 school year, would most likely disappear, too. 

JAN
26
2017

POLICY
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Panel: When rethinking school governance, afterschool is a piece of the local puzzle

By Jillian Luchner

On January 19th, the National School Boards Association and the National School Boards Action Center hosted the Public Education Agenda for America's Success forum. Representatives from both conservative and liberal policy and research institutes came together in Washington, DC to discuss what to expect under a new administration and Congress.

The 2016 presidential campaign did not focus much on education issues, aside from a few conversations around child care and school choice. However, Gerard Robinson of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) mentioned that while education has not been a direct focus of President Trump’s attention, many of his priority issues—including safety, the economy and the military—are, in truth, education issues.

Based on what we know so far about the Trump Administration's education agenda and how it relates to out-of-school time, a couple of key themes emerged.

Federal government expected to pass the baton to the states

Many on the panel assumed the Trump Administration will look to return as much decision-making on data, performance, and implementation as possible to states, which resonates with the theme of the Every Student Succeeds Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2015.

All panelists expected a return to local control—but as AEI's Andy Smarick hypothesized, the very concept of local control may be changing. In the past, local control meant the ultimate decision makers on education issues should be local school boards and districts rather than the state or federal government, but Smarick now believes local control is reaching down to the level of the parent and family.

However, other panelists pointed out that with federal and state money flowing to districts and students, accountability in education will always have to be twofold: at the school and parent level with regard to student achievement, but also at the federal, state, and local level when considering how public tax dollars are being spent in the public interest.

JAN
18
2017

POLICY
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Opportunities for afterschool abound as ESSA is implemented

By Jillian Luchner

President Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act into law.

In the New Year, states are busy getting ready for the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), to go into full effect with the start of the new 2017-18 school year.

In these final months of preparation, states are finishing first and second rounds of stakeholder engagement, releasing first and second drafts of their state ESSA plans, and finalizing plans and submitting to the federal Department of Education for review. Arizona already has submitted a plan—far ahead of the required April and September deadlines for plan submission.

At this stage, things are moving quickly—luckily, it's easy to keep up with what your state is doing with our new interactive map tool! This new resource puts links to state webpages and ESSA plans at your fingertips.

What are states working to accomplish?

The new law is an opportunity to re-envision education within the state. Unlike the previous federal education law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), ESSA provides more flexibility to states to decide what they want to track and measure beyond the familiar requirement of student proficiency on statewide English language arts (ELA) and math tests.

Guided by stakeholder engagement, states are determining the outcomes they want to see for their students and creating a system of reporting, interventions and support to ensure that districts and schools help students make progress toward those goals.