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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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NOV
9
2017

RESEARCH
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Looking for evidence on the impact of afterschool?

By Nikki Yamashiro

Look no further! Adding to the research conversation discussing the value of afterschool and summer learning programs, the Afterschool Alliance has released two new fact sheets that provide a sampling of evaluation findings demonstrating the positive impact programs have on students, with subjects ranging from helping students become more engaged in learning to improving students’ foundational skills, such as communication and decision-making skills. 

The two fact sheets include different sets of information meant to complement one another. What does the research say about 21st Century Community Learning Centers? focuses specifically on findings from evaluations of Community Learning Centers programs, including statewide evaluations from a number of states across the country, such as California, Texas, and West Virginia. On the other hand, What does the research say about afterschool? includes student outcomes from evaluations of afterschool programs more broadly, comprising evaluations of Community Learning Centers programs as well as referencing meta-analyses (an approach that looks at multiple studies and their data) and national-level studies.

If you are in search of how to make an evidence-based case for afterschool, you can pluck findings from these fact sheets to demonstrate that there is a body of research that both establishes and confirms that afterschool works.

Didn’t find exactly what you’re looking for? Search our Impacts Database and filter for evaluations focused on everything from the evaluations’ findings, such as attendance and behavior, to the age of students served. The database, which we continuously update and add to, currently includes more than 60 evaluations. If you have an evaluation you think we should include, email us at info@afterschoolalliance.org.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Evaluation and Data
SEP
22
2017

STEM
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Guest blog: Have recent investments in afterschool STEM improved student outcomes?

By Guest Blogger

By Dr. Gil G. Noam, Dr. Patricia J. Allen, and Bailey Triggs at The PEAR Institute: Partnerships in Education and Resilience.

Percentage of youth reporting positive change in STEM-related attitudes and 21st-century skills

U.S. policymakers have prioritized boosting student interest in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) to prepare the nation’s youth for an increasingly STEM-focused workforce. High-quality STEM afterschool programs are helping to fill this growing need. The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Noyce Foundation (now STEM Next) played a critical role in helping states across the country to develop systems of support for these quality afterschool STEM programs so that they can share research and best practices.

To support this effort, we at The PEAR Institute (Partnerships in Education and Resilience) at McLean Hospital and Harvard University partnered with Dr. Todd Little and IMMAP (Institute for Measurement, Methodology, Analysis & Policy) at Texas Tech University to conduct one of the first large-scale evaluations to measure the impact of afterschool programs on students’ STEM-related attitudes, social-emotional skills, and 21st-century skills. Our report was made possible through a collaboration of researchers, practitioners, funders, and 11 statewide afterschool networks.

SEP
8
2017

RESEARCH
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Evaluating afterschool: What my toddler taught me about evaluation

By Guest Blogger

By Allison Riley, PhD, MSW, Senior Vice President, Programming and Evaluation at Girls on the Run International. Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running.

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the seventh 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 firstsecondthirdfourthfifth, and sixth posts of the series.

My two-year-old daughter and I like to take walks together when I get home from work. Whether we are headed to see the neighbor’s chickens or visit a friend, we always have some goal in mind when we walk out of the door, though my toddler typically doesn’t take the most direct path. Even if I try to rush her along so we can more quickly reach our destination, she is sure to pause when a good learning opportunity comes her way. When I follow my daughter’s lead, our walks are purposeful yet flexible, and I always learn more, too.

As it turns out, my daughter’s approach to a walk translates well to my workday world. As someone who’s spent my career evaluating youth programming, I have learned the importance of having a clear purpose and goals for a project while being flexible and responsive to information gathered during the evaluation process. Let’s look at a recent Girls on the Run study as an example.

AUG
29
2017

RESEARCH
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New poll finds 9 in 10 parents support schools providing afterschool programs

By Nikki Yamashiro

Last night, the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) released the 2017 Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) Poll of Public's Attitudes Towards Public Schools. The overall takeaway from this report, which is PDK’s 49th annual report on Americans’ views toward public schools, is that there is strong agreement that public schools should provide supports outside of the typical school day. More than 9 in 10 Americans report that they support public schools providing afterschool programs, with 77 percent reporting that they strongly supported schools providing afterschool programs.

Support was also strong for schools providing mental health services (87 percent) and general health services (79 percent). Support was very high for schools seeking additional public funding to pay for these services, with 76 percent of Americans agreeing that schools are justified in seeking additional public funds.

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learn more about: Evaluation and Data
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
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
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
JUL
3
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Highlights from Policy Studies Associates’ afterschool report

By Elizabeth Tish

Policy Studies Associates (PSA) conducts research in education and youth development. This spring, PSA published a short report on afterschool program quality and effectiveness, reviewing more than 25 years of afterschool program evaluations they have completed.

The report further substantiates the benefits of afterschool for three specific stakeholders: students, families, and schools. The full details are available in the report, which covers the following topics in depth:

Afterschool programs work for students

  1. Increase school attendance and ease transitions into high school
  2. Offer students project-based learning opportunities
  3. Improve state language and math assessment scores while developing teamwork skills and personal confidence

Afterschool programs work for families

  1. Provide safe spaces for enriching activities and academic support
  2. Make it easier for parents to keep their job
  3. Provide an option for parents to miss less work

Afterschool programs work for schools

  1. Enhance the effectiveness of the school and reinforce school-day curriculum
  2. Create a college-going and career-inspiring culture in the school
  3. Foster a welcoming school environment

Want to find out which evaluations these statements came from? Visit the PSA brief, Afterschool Program Quality and Effectiveness: 25 Years of Results!!

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learn more about: Evaluation and Data