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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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JAN
14

POLICY
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Omnibus spending bill ensures renewed federal support for afterschool, summer learning

By Erik Peterson

With only a few days before the Continuing Resolution funding the federal government expires on Wednesday, House and Senate appropriators unveiled the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY2014) Omnibus Appropriations bill last night. For the more than 8 million young people and their families that rely on afterschool and summer learning programs, the proposed Omnibus represents a step in the right direction. Most importantly, the majority of the FY2013 sequester cut to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative is restored, and no language was included allowing the diversion of afterschool funds to other purposes. In addition, there are slight increases in other key funding streams that support afterschool programs. 

Congress plans to pass an additional three day Continuing Resolution to allow time to consider and pass the FY2014 Omnibus bill. The Omnibus is a compromise between House and Senate appropriations committees and was made possible as a result of the budget deal struck between House and Senate Budget Committee Chairs last month, funding the government at $1 trillion through the end of September. Both the House and Senate must pass the Omnibus bill and the president must sign it before it becomes law.

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learn more about: Budget Congress Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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DEC
16

RESEARCH
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Tweens and teens talk about what would get them to go to an afterschool arts program, Part 2

By Nikki Yamashiro

In my previous blog post, I covered researchers’ insights into what tweens want in and expect from an afterschool arts program.  Based on hundreds of hours of interviews, focus groups and analysis, the authors of “Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts” shared the barriers that keep tweens from participating in afterschool arts programs and program aspects that tweens are most drawn to.

This week I want to take a look at the second part of the report that details what afterschool arts programs can do to address the needs and demands of urban tweens and better engage this hard to reach group.  For this section of the report, authors conducted a literature review of afterschool arts programs; interviewed program providers, administration staff and researchers; and visited the sites of eight programs to create case studies for the report.  Based on the collective information, 10 principles for effective, high-quality afterschool arts programs emerged:

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Evaluations Arts
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DEC
12

RESEARCH
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New report: community schools and expanded learning opportunities

By Jen Rinehart

A new report from the Coalition for Community Schools highlights the prevalence of expanded learning opportunities, including afterschool and summer programs, in community schools—schools that unite with community partners to offer a range of supports for youth, families and communities with the goal of improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. 

“The Growing Convergence of Community Schools and Expanded Learning Opportunities” confirms what afterschool and community school advocates have often touted: expanded learning opportunities are a key component of the community schools strategy.  Based on a survey of community schools, the report finds:

  • Close to 90 percent of the community school initiatives surveyed describe the expansion and improvement of expanded learning activities as part of their community schools strategy.
  • Approximately one-third of respondents indicated that at least half of their work focuses on expanded learning opportunities (compared to all other possible opportunities and supports, such as health services, mental health services, and family and community engagement).
  • Of those who offer expanded learning, 90 percent offer afterschool and nearly 70 percent offer summer programs.  About one-quarter offer extended school day and expanded learning opportunities during the conventional school day.
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learn more about: Evaluations School Improvement Sustainability Academic Enrichment Youth Development Community Partners
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DEC
12

IN THE FIELD
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PISA test results underscore need for holistic look at education

By Anita Krishnamurthi

The PISA 2012 scores were released last week—and it turns out that a decade of No Child Left Behind education policies and initiatives has helped us to... stay in place! Scores in math, science and reading for 15-year-old students in the United States were stagnant, but our overall rankings fell as the scores for students in other countries went up. 

In a nutshell, the PISA tests administered every three years by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are designed to measure if students can apply what they are learning in school to real-life problems. So it moves beyond rote memorization to assess true understanding of concepts. 
29 countries did better than the United States in math (including Latvia, Poland and Slovenia), 22 countries did better in science (including Vietnam and Poland), and 19 countries did better in reading (including Estonia and Lichtenstein). The United States had a very small portion of students who scored as top performers in math (2 percent compared to the OECD average of 3 percent) and 25 percent of students were in the lowest levels of math proficiency, which is a much higher percentage than the OECD average. This number has not changed since 2003 despite the intense focus on math teaching in schools over the past decade. Much has been written since the scores were released—for example, see the articles in Education Week  and the Washington Post
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learn more about: Education Reform Equity Evaluations School Improvement
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DEC
12

IN THE FIELD
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New evaluation: A World Fit For Kids! keeps kids fit

By Nikki Yamashiro

Afterschool programs are integral partners in keeping kids active, motivated and healthy—both physically and mentally.  An independent evaluation of A World Fit For Kids! (WFIT)—an afterschool program that provides healthy behaviors and youth development programs to students in economically disadvantaged communities in Los Angeles County—found that kids who participated in the program were physically active, made healthy food choices, became more self-confident and made gains in their academic performance.  Key findings of the evaluation include:

  • 77 percent of students in WFIT report that the program helped them feel motivated to participate in physical activities
  • 8 in 10 students in the program share that WFIT helped them drink water more often and close to 7 in 10 students say that the program helped them to eat more fruit
  • More than 80 percent of high schoolers and 75 percent of middle schoolers in the program say that WFIT helped them feel more confident, persevere and think about goals for the future 
  •  More than 7 in 10 WFIT participants report that being involved in the program helped them complete their homework on time
  • 81 percent of the high school and middle school students in the program say participating in WFIT helped them to get better grades
  • Compared to high school seniors who never participated in WFIT, high school seniors who participated in WFIT at least 1 of the 4 years they were in school had higher graduation rates
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learn more about: Evaluations Health and Wellness
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DEC
2

FUNDING
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Request for proposals: building capacity for evaluation

By Sarah Simpson

The 2014 Visitor Studies Association Conference is to be held July 15-19, 2014, in Albuquerque, NM, around the theme Building Capacity for Evaluation: Individuals, Institutions, the Field.

For their 2014 conference, VSA invites the informal learning community to join them in creating a conference program that pushes the field of visitor studies forward by addressing the increasing interest in evaluation and the growing demand for evidence. This year, VSA will think strategically about how to continually build capacity for evaluation.

The deadline for submissions is: Monday, Dec. 16, 2013.

For more details and to submit a proposal, go to: http://visitorstudies.org/conference-overview/call-for-proposals

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learn more about: Evaluations Events and Briefings
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NOV
22

RESEARCH
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Tweens and teens talk about what would get them to go to an afterschool arts program

By Nikki Yamashiro

“How can urban, low-income tweens and teens gain equal access to high-quality arts experiences?”
 
“Is there a model of practices that could provide a blueprint for community-based organizations to emulate, so that proven approaches could be deployed in more places, more often?”
 
“How do the insights of what tweens and teens want align with what other experts say they need?”
 
These are just a few of the weighty questions tackled in the report, “Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs from Urban Youth and Other Experts,” released last week by the Wallace Foundation and Next Level Strategic Marketing Group.   Earlier, I wrote ashort blog post on the report’s infographic and 10 principles to attract and keep urban tweens in afterschool arts programs.  This week I was able to take a closer examination of the 136-page report and wanted to share a few key insights.

The arts can play an incredibly important role in a young person’s life.  They can spark creativity and motivation in students—they are a way for young people to express themselves, to gain a better understanding of who they are as individuals, to build confidence and increase engagement in learning.  Afterschool arts programs are a critical partner to help ensure that the arts—which encompass everything from dance to digital media arts to poetry slams and everything in-between—is accessible to all youth, especially those in low-income areas where participation is low.

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learn more about: Afterschool Voices Evaluations Arts
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NOV
18

IN THE FIELD
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Speak Up 2013: Make your voice heard

By Kamila Thigpen

Are you “Speaking Up” about digital learning this year? If not, you're missing a unique opportunity to have your views—as well as the views of your colleagues, students, their parents and the local community—included in the increasingly important U.S. national and state discussions on digital learning policies, programs and funding.

The Afterschool Alliance is proud to announce a special partnership with Project Tomorrow this year to encourage participation of afterschool organizations in their online research project Speak Up. The Speak Up National Research Project annually collects and reports on the authentic, unfiltered views of K–12 students, parents and educators about critical digital age education and technology issues. Since 2003, more than 3 million K–12 education stakeholders have shared their ideas about ed tech through the Speak Up online surveys. And we need your ideas too!

This year, for the first time, Project Tomorrow will be providing an additional online survey for community members. Local employers, after school providers, school board members and homeowners without children in the local schools can now provide their views on the role of technology in preparing students for the jobs and careers of the 21st century. This new set of data will provide valuable insights for the participating organizations as well as state and federal policymakers on the importance of digital tools and resources for college and career readiness.

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learn more about: Digital Learning Evaluations
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