A new report, released by the Department of Education and written by the Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia, examined the impact afterschool, before-school and summer learning programs have on their students’ academic achievement and socio-emotional development. The report, “The effects of increased learning time on student academic and nonacademic outcomes: Findings from a meta-analytic review,” found that out-of-school-time programs, as well as full-day kindergarten programs, can have a positive effect on student participants, such as improving students’ academic motivation, self-confidence and self-management. Effects did vary by program and type of instruction, and the authors of the report conclude that the elements of a program—such as program instruction and focus, the types of students targeted, and staff—have an impact on student outcomes.
Authors of this report reviewed more than 7,000 studies, and out of the 7,000 identified 30 studies to analyze, with the goal of helping schools and school districts determine the types and features of afterschool programs best suited to their needs. After finding that out-of-school-time programs had mixed effects on student outcomes, researchers concluded:
By Jen Rinehart
Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., have joined the rapidly growing Cities of Learning movement, a new effort to network citywide resources to keep youth (ages 4 to 24) engaged in educational and career opportunities when school lets out. Cities are funded by local partners and receive national support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Digital Youth Network and the Badge Alliance.
Cities of Learning offer free or low-cost opportunities for youth to learn online or participate in programming at parks, libraries, museums and other institutions. Whether through robotics, fashion design, coding competitions or workplace internships, Cities of Learning provide an array of engaging opportunities for young people to explore new interests, develop their talents, and create unique pathways toward college or a career.
Chicago launched the Cities of Learning movement in 2013 with a successful summer program that now continues year-round. This summer, Dallas, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh will kick off their Cities of Learning, with Columbus and Washington, D.C., joining the lineup this fall. More cities are planning to launch in 2015.
Making learning relevant, incorporating workforce development into programming, emphasizing healthful eating and physical activity, providing a safe and supportive environment, and engaging parents are just a few of the key components of effective out-of-school-time programs highlighted in a new report by the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation.
“Building Bridges: Connecting Out-of-School Time to Classroom Success Among School-Age Black Males in the District of Columbia” takes a look at policies and practices afterschool programs can adopt to best support the success of young black males in D.C. The report demonstrates the need for targeted support for young black males in D.C., beginning with an overview of the data on black men and boys in the District of Columbia. This includes data on graduation and dropout rates, grade school retentions, disability diagnosis, suspensions, household structure, employment, and household income. For example, the report found that in Washington, D.C., the dropout rate for black males is 14 percent, compared to less than 2 percent for white males. Another sobering statistic is the wealth gap that has grown in D.C. In 1990, just less than 3 in 10 black children in D.C. were being raised in families living in poverty and approximately 7 in 10 white children were being raised in families in “comfortable homes”—or in families with an income more than five times the rate of poverty. In 2011, approximately 4 in 10 black children in D.C. were living in poverty, compared to 9 in 10 white children who were living in a comfortable home.
On May 22—in conjunction with the 13th annual Afterschool for All Challenge—the Senate Afterschool Caucus, the Afterschool Alliance and the Expanded Learning Project joined forces to host a Capitol Hill briefing featuring compelling stories and encouraging research that point to the success and potential of afterschool and summer learning programs.
Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, founding dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Education, shared new data that shows how quality afterschool programs can help close the achievement gap. She emphasized findings that show afterschool programs are particularly effective at improving achievement and positive behavior among low-income students. She noted that afterschool researchers and advocates have data that show that the long-term outcomes associated with afterschool participation are positive and compelling and should move the discussion about the benefits of afterschool beyond the safety and good behaviors conversations. In addition, Vandell stated that in recent years the research tools and findings have facilitated the incorporation of measures of intensity, duration and quality.
By Luci Manning
Every Tuesday and Thursday, a group of students at Superior Middle School hurry to the Gain Early Awareness and Readiness (GEARS) afterschool program, where University of Wisconsin-Superior students help them with homework and school projects. The students in GEARS are placed in the program based on failing grades or other risk factors, but engaging with mentors who are passionate about their success and well-being has translated into better work ethic, behavior, and grades. Berkley Freund, 11, told the Duluth News Tribune, “I definitely think it has been successful, it helped us all. Plus I like that we get snacks and free time after we finish our work.”
Robotics has taken a fashionable turn at the Fort Cherry Elementary Center, where students in the Fashion Bots afterschool club are creating their own robots complete with motors, sensors and lights. The 10 students involved, most of them girls, put their imaginations to the test. Some are working on a hybrid unicorn/kitten robot that shakes its tail and spins its bow, and others a scene of the Eiffel Tower that transitions from day to night. Trisha Craig, the curriculum coordinator, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that “the primary focus is to get girls interested in STEM activities. We picked the theme Fashion Bots so it would entice girls and it worked.” The students are putting the finishing touches on their projects and are excited to demonstrate the results of their hard work and creativity to their parents at an upcoming show-and-tell event.
A new afterschool program is making a difference in the lives of 34 fourth-grade boys at Glenwood Elementary School. The Superheroes club, which was inspired by Girls on the Run, has enabled the students to grow socially and emotionally through a combination of physical activities and mentoring. Eli Day, a high school senior and founder of the club, wanted to instill confidence and discipline in the students so they would better understand the power of their actions and treat themselves and others with respect. While the club has only met five times, Crystal Day, Eli’s mom and the fourth-grade teacher who created the Superheroes curriculum, told the State Journal-Register that she can already see that the students have a greater sense of camaraderie.
In New Britain, Conn., New Britain YWCA STRIVE is the only program in the area that provides academic enrichment, health and wellness programming, and positive youth development during the after school hours to middle school girls identified as at-risk. A program alumnus from YWCA STRIVE shares:
“Growing up in New Britain can be tough [sic.] there are many factors that can distract a young person and guide them through the wrong path. The transition from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school can be rough on pre-teens and teens…The pressure to fit in for young people is very strong, especially for girls. During my middle school career, I found comfort in a wonderful program offered at the YWCA STRIVE…This program helped me blossom… STRIVE became my safe zone… STRIVE was more than a program. It was a sisterhood.”
Last week, we hosted a webinar addressing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). As the first of what will likely be an ongoing series of webinars, we started with a brief outline of the standards and heard from one afterschool program on what they were doing around NGSS.
Katelyn Wamsted, director of programs at Girlstart, explained why they have aligned their curriculum with NGSS. Despite being located in Texas, a state that has not adopted Common Core or NGSS, Girlstart believes it's important to demonstrate their commitment to high quality STEM education, which they believe is reflected in the NGSS. Girlstart also participates in national conversations about out-of-school-time programming. Katelyn walked us through two examples of how they align curriculum to both NGSS and the Texas State Standards (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS).
Afterschool can play a key role in helping schools plan for and implement NGSS. The quality and strength of partnerships emerged as an important theme within the webinar. Katelyn gave her best practices for partnering with schools and described how Girlstart hosts internships for preservice teachers to facilitate their afterschool and summer programs.
By Musa Farmand
Quality afterschool programs that are based in or adjacent to affordable housing communities can guarantee access to a safe and stimulating learning environment for the children of working families who are most in need of such services. Through the Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) in Cleveland, Ohio, and its community partners are providing resident K-8 students with opportunities to achieve their educational goals and engage in positive interactions with the larger community. Below, we showcase CMHA’s 21st CCLC program, explore the unique benefits of housing-based afterschool programs, and highlight other afterschool partnerships that CMHA maintains in order to provide access to quality, affordable afterschool for all of the families they serve.