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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
30

POLICY
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More than 260 groups call on Senate HELP Committee to support 21st CCLC afterschool

By Erik Peterson

Today a broad coalition of 266 local, state and national organizations urged the Senate HELP Committee to maintain the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) initiative as a separate and specific federal funding stream for school and community partnerships to support students in grades Pre-K through 12 during the hours outside of the school day.  Quality afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs provide young people with the academic, social and emotional learning opportunities they need to be successful in school and in life.

Organizations ranging from the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and the Food Research and Action Center, to the American Heart Association and the National Education Association, all came together on the letter because of the broad value of afterschool and summer learning programs as a platform to make a difference in the lives of children.  Whether it is inspiring girls to pursue a STEM career or providing a venue to offer a nutritious meal and vigorous physical activity, comprehensive afterschool programs funded by 21st CCLC since 2001 positively impact more than 1 million school-age children each year.  The letter comes in response to Senate HELP Committee Chairman Alexander’s discussion draft ESEA bill, which would eliminate 21st CCLC and replace it with a block grant that could be used for afterschool and summer learning or a variety of in-school student supports.  

The full text of the letter along with signing organizations including groups from 35 states and more than 50 leading national organizations follows below.  Maximize the impact by emailing your Senators and urging them to support 21st CCLC—take action now!

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learn more about: 21st CCLC ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy
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JAN
29

POLICY
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Bipartisan Afterschool for America's Children Act introduced in the Senate

By Erik Peterson

With the Elementary and Secondary Education Action (ESEA) reauthorization process underway in the Senate HELP Committee, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Shelly Moore-Capito (R-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced their bipartisan Afterschool for America’s Children Act in the Senate today.  The Afterschool for America’s Children Act legislation reauthorizes the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative and builds on past afterschool and summer learning program success.  The bill was introduced this week in the wake of a proposal to eliminate 21st CCLC through ESEA.

 The bill:

  • Strengthens school-community partnerships to include sharing of data and resources, the ability to better leverage relationships within the community and provide an intentional alignment with the school day.
  • Promotes professional development and training of afterschool program staff.
  • Encourages innovative new ways to engage students in learning that looks different from a traditional school day, with an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning; science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM); and physical activity and nutrition education.  Supports approaches that focus on individualized learning that provide a variety of ways for students to master core skills and knowledge.
  • Provides accountability measures that are connected to college- and career-readiness goals and show student progress over time towards meeting indicators of student success including school attendance, grades and on-time grade level advancement.
  • Ensures that funding supports programs that utilize evidence-based, successful practices.
  • Increases quality and accountability through parent engagement, better alignment with state learning objectives and coordination between federal, state and local agencies. 
  • Does not prioritize any one model of expanded learning opportunities over another. 
  • Maintains formula grants to states that then distribute funds to local school-community partnerships through a competitive grant process.

The bill was introduced in the 113th Congress as S. 326, signifying the hours from 3PM to 6PM when young people need access to quality afterschool programs that keep them safe and inspire learning.  Among the groups registering support for the bill in the 113th Congress were the Afterschool Alliance, After-School All-Stars, American Camp Association, American Heart Association, A World Fit For Kids, Champions, Harlem RBI, National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Collaboration for Youth, Save the Children and the United States Tennis Association. 

In addition to these organizations, it’s important that Congress see a strong showing of support from afterschool advocates across the country.  Your senators want to hear from you!  Take action now by urging your senators to sign on as co-sponsors to support the next generation of afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs that are re-engaging children in their education and future.  Share personal examples or experiences that illustrate the importance of these out-of-school programs for enhancing learning, keeping kids safe and helping working families.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Federal Funding Federal Policy
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JAN
29

RESEARCH
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The eighth-to-ninth grade transition: How afterschool can help

By Dan Gilbert

This is first in a series of blogs the Afterschool Alliance will publish exploring the challenges of transitioning to high school, and how out-of-school time can help. 

The transition from middle school to high school is a tumultuous one, a transition in which students encounter many possible obstacles.  They must navigate shifting social structures and build new relationships in a new and unfamiliar environment, all while dealing with more difficult and rigorous coursework than in previous years.

A number of studies have shown that how students fare in the eighth-to-ninth grade transition can be a powerful predictor of whether or not they will graduate from high school on time, or at all.  Educational data show that there are consistently more students in the ninth grade than in either the eighth or the tenth grades, a phenomenon that experts commonly refer to as the ‘ninth grade bulge.’  This is largely attributable to two factors: first, more students fail the ninth grade than any other grade, and second, more students are held back in ninth grade than any other grade. According to the National High School Center, “a disproportionate number of students who are held back in ninth grade subsequently drop out.”

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learn more about: Youth Development
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JAN
22

POLICY
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Senate HELP Committee holds hearing on testing and accountability

By Sophie Papavizas

On Wednesday, January 21, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) under Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) held a hearing on Fixing No Child Left Behind: Testing and Accountability.  The hearing focused on reviewing the testing and accountability measures for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

This was the first hearing for the HELP Committee in the 114th Congress and Chairman Alexander used the opportunity to outline his agenda for the new Congress, reiterating his commitment to fixing No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and promising to have a bill ready for the floor by the end of February.  A working draft for the bill was posted on the Committee website last week and presents two options for testing.  The first option gives flexibility to the states to decide what to do, while the second option maintains current law testing requirements.

Below is a list of the witnesses present at the hearing.  Their written testimony can be found here.

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learn more about: Congress ESEA Federal Policy
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JAN
20

CHALLENGE
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Join us in Washington, DC for the 2015 Afterschool for All Challenge!

By Rachel Clark

This March, we’re teaming up with the National AfterSchool Association Annual Convention and afterschool professionals from around the country to meet face to face with Members of Congress and urge them to support the millions of kids and families who rely on afterschool programs. In 2014, participants from 46 states met with their US Senators and Representatives—this year, bring your powerful story to our nation’s capital to share with 2,000 afterschool professionals and with our federal elected officials.

This spring will be one of the most critical times on Capitol Hill for friends and advocates of afterschool programs. Congress will likely be rewriting federal education, child nutrition, juvenile justice and STEM legislation this year, making decisions that will impact access to quality afterschool, before school, and summer learning programs for millions of children. Your elected officials need to hear your voice and story to fully understand the value that these programs have on the lives of young people.

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learn more about: Advocacy Afterschool for All Events and Briefings
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JAN
16

POLICY
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21st CCLC initiative eliminated in Sen. Alexander's ESEA reauthorization discussion draft bill

By Erik Peterson

As we previewed earlier this week, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization process officially kicked off late on Tuesday night with the release of Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander’s (R-TN) staff discussion draft reauthorization bill.  The proposed “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015” would replace the 2001 No Child Left Behind law and seeks to increases flexibility for states under a reduced federal footprint.  The proposed bill offers two approaches to annual testing requirements, makes teacher evaluation through test scores optional and eliminates a range of existing programs including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative that currently provides afterschool and summer learning programs to more than 1.6 million students.

Separately on Wednesday, Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan responded to the Chairman’s draft by expressing serious concern with a number of provisions.  The tentative process moving forward includes a number of discussion sessions giving Senate HELP Committee members’ staff an opportunity to fully understand the 400-page bill, followed by negotiations to determine the legislation that will be marked up in the Senate HELP Committee likely during the middle of next month.  An ESEA bill could be debated on the Senate floor as early as this spring or summer.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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JAN
13

POLICY
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New year, new Congress, new momentum

By Erik Peterson

2015 has only just begun but Congress is already into its second week and legislative priorities are emerging for the year ahead.  The 114th Congress convened last week with Republicans controlling both the House (246 Republicans to 188 Democrats, 1 vacancy) and the Senate (54 Republicans to 44 Democrats, with 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats) as a result of the 2014 midterm elections.  What does the 114th Congress have in store that could impact afterschool and summer learning programs?  Plenty.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Advocacy Congress ESEA Events and Briefings Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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DEC
22

RESEARCH
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New report: Ready for Fall?

By Jen Rinehart

December is about the time I start thinking about summer.  Not because I don’t enjoy the cold, but because it's when I register my daughter for her summer program to make sure that she doesn’t miss out on all the fun, enrichment and learning that comes with participating in summer programs.  Research shows that my family is not alone in our need for summer programs.  According to America After 3PM, more than half of families want their children to participate in summer learning programs. 

Ready for Fall?, a new report from the RAND Corporation and The Wallace Foundation, sheds some light on why families value summer learning programs so much.  RAND found that students attending voluntary, school district-led summer learning programs entered school in the fall with stronger mathematics skills than their peers who did not attend the programs.  In fact, students in the summer learning programs began the following school year with the equivalent of more than one-fifth of a year’s growth in math skills.   

The RAND research includes summer learning programs in five urban areas and examines whether and how two consecutive summers of voluntary, district-led summer programs—offering academic instruction and enrichment activities like arts and field trips— help boost low-income students’ success in school.

The RAND study also highlights some of the program practices associated with student success and offers recommendations based on those practices.  Among their recommendations:

  • Offer programs that operate five-to-six weeks and, if math outcomes are a goal, provide 60 to 90 minutes of mathematics each day.
  • Strongly encourage consistent student attendance, protect time for academic instruction and help teachers maximize instructional time inside the classroom.
  • Select reading teachers for summer programs carefully, choosing effective reading teachers with grade-level experience in either the sending or receiving grade.
  • In terms of student achievement in reading, set clear expectations for student behavior, ensuring consistent application across teachers, and develop methods of maintaining positive student behavior in class. 

This is the first in a series of reports from this research.  The next report will look at the effect of one summer of programming on achievement, attendance and behavior and subsequent reports will share two years of impact data.  Collectively, these reports will helps us all better understand how to design and implement summer learning programs, what outcomes the programs are likely to produce and what practices are associated with success.

Check out this video for more on the research findings and the importance of making sure that all students are ready for fall.

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