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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
6
2017

IN THE FIELD
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The Growing Out-of-School Time Field: A new must-read

By Nikki Yamashiro

“The authors in this important new book show us not only how to create [out-of-school time] programs but why it matters to our collective future. Timely, relevant, and readable, this book is an invaluable resource for anyone seeking to close gaps in educational opportunities.” – Pedro A. Noguera, Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies

From out-of-school (OST) time as vehicle to promote youth development to professional development within the OST field, The Growing Out-of-School Time Field: Past, Present, and Future offers a thoughtful and extensive look into the progress of a field that has grown and matured over the course of two decades. The above quote by Dr. Noguera, who has received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences and the McSilver Institute at New York University for his work aimed at advancing equity, nicely encapsulates the significance of this book and its value add to the national conversation.

 

NOV
3
2016

POLICY
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A new grant program in ESSA is an opportunity for afterschool STEM and more

By Anita Krishnamurthi

President Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act into law.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the new education law of the land, established a number of new, flexible funding streams that states and districts can employ to support afterschool programs. One of these is the new Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants program (SSAE), in the law's Title IV Part A. 

Late last month, the US Department of Education released non-regulatory guidance on the SSAE grant program to help states, districts and schools provide students with a more well-rounded education. ESSA authorized $1.65 billion annually for this program (though Congress is debating the final funding level), which will provide funding to every state and district to support well-rounded learning opportunities with a strong emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, as well as learning technologies and programs that keep students safe and healthy. The SSAE grants program is intended to be distributed by formula to districts, according to the following stipulations:

  • Ninety-five percent of the funds will flow to school districts, to be spent largely at their discretion, with the remaining 5 percent reserved for state-level activities. 
  • Every district will receive at least $10,000 through the program, and those receiving more than $30,000 in federal funds under the program (all but the smallest school districts will likely cross this threshold) must devote 20 percent to “well-rounded” learning activities, which include a large variety of STEM activities.

There are a nubmer of activities specifically authorized under ESSA and detailed in the new Department of Education guidance for the SSAE grants program that are helpful for afterschool STEM.

Opportunities for afterschool STEM in the SSAE grant program

  • “Facilitating collaboration among school, afterschool program, and informal program personnel to improve the integration of programming and instruction in the identified [STEM] subjects” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(v)]
  • “Providing hands-on learning and exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and supporting the use of field-based or service learning to enhance the students’ understanding of the STEM subjects” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(iii)]
  • “Supporting the participation of low-income students in nonprofit competitions related to STEM subjects (such as robotics, science research, invention, mathematics, computer science, and technology competitions)” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(C)(ii)]
  • “Activities and programs to support student access to, and success in, a variety of well-rounded education experiences” [Sec. 4107 (a)(3)(J)]

The guidance issued last month also provides specific program examples that will help school districts and local communities better navigate these opportunities included in the law.

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learn more about: Education Reform ESEA Federal Policy
OCT
4
2016

POLICY
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The four categories of changes made to the Child Care and Development Fund

By Erik Peterson

Photo by mokra.

The 2016 Child Care and Development Fund Final Rule was finalized late last month by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), updating regulations to incorporate and clarify changes made through the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. 

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is the primary federal funding source devoted to improving the quality of care for all children and to helping low-income families who work or participate in education pay for child care. The federal program is also among the five largest funding streams that support local providers in offering quality afterschool programming for school-age children. CCDF provides child care financial assistance for 1.4 million children each month throughout the United States, U.S. Territories and Tribal Nations. CCDF investments in improving the quality of care also benefit millions more of the nation’s children who do not receive a child care subsidy, but who participate in child care programs that benefit from these quality investments, such as program staff and teacher training. 

On November 19, 2014, President Obama signed into law bipartisan legislation that comprehensively updated the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act for the first time in nearly twenty years. The law focused on strengthening child care to better support the success of both parents and children, while also providing a new emphasis on the importance of providing high-quality early education and care for children under the age of five. 

The final rule updates CCDF regulations for the first time since 1998 to make them consistent with the new law. The rule applies to states, territories and tribes administering CCDF and reflects more than 150 comments received on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published in December 2015. The Afterschool Alliance provided comments on the proposed rule, several of which were incorporated into the final rule. 

The final rule recognizes the important role of school-age afterschool programs, stating:

"Research also confirms that consistent time spent in afterschool activities during the elementary school years is linked to narrowing the gap in math achievement, greater gains in academic and behavioral outcomes, and reduced school absences. (Auger, Pierce, and Vandell, Participation in Out-of-School Settings and Student Academic and Behavioral Outcomes, presented at the Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting, 2013). An analysis of over 70 after-school program evaluations found that evidence-based programs designed to promote personal and social skills were successful in improving children's behavior and school performance. (Durlak, Weissberg, and Pachan, The Impact of Afterschool Programs that Seek to Promote Personal and Social Skills in Children and Adolescents, American Journal of Community Psychology, 2010). After-school programs also promote youth safety and family stability by providing supervised settings during hours when children are not in school. Parents with school-aged children in unsupervised arrangements face greater stress that can impact the family's well-being and successful participation in the workforce. (Barnett and Gareis, Parental After-School Stress and Psychological Well-Being, Journal of Marriage and the Family, 2006)."

The Office of Child Care (OCC) at HHS summarized the major changes in the CCDBG Act and the CCDF final rule into categories. 

Here are the four categories of changes made:

      1)    Protecting the health and safety of children in child care;  

      2)    Helping parents make informed consumer choices and access information to support child development;  

      3)    Supporting equal access to stable, high quality child care for low-income children; and  

      4)    Enhancing the quality of child care and better support the workforce. 

JUN
8
2016

POLICY
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Speaker Ryan outlines "A Better Way" to tackle poverty

By Jillian Luchner

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Yesterday, June 7th, House Speaker Paul Ryan presented A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America, a new policy paper on poverty representing the recommendations on issues in welfare, workforce and education by the House Republican Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity and Upward Mobility.

webpage outlining the plan breaks the message on poverty alleviation into 5 main ideas:

  • Reward Work
  • Tailor Benefits to People’s Needs
  • Improve Skills and Schools
  • Plan and Save for the Future
  • Demand Results

The overarching philosophy of "A Better Way"

The plan emphasizes streamlining programs, noting that “today, 13 federal agencies run more than 80 programs that provide food, housing, health care, job training, education, energy assistance and cash to low-income Americans.” The plan asks for focus to be shifted to the individual rather than compartmentalized among bureaucratic offices, such that the foundation of aid becomes an individual’s goals, and the measure of success becomes an individual’s rise from poverty.

The plan suggests that, with the individual at the center, states, localities and communities become best positioned to determine, direct and coordinate supports for recipients of government services. In streamlining, government must pay attention to redundancies, waste, fraud and abuse, and coordinating data and services while maintaining individual privacy. Resources should be dedicated to evidence-based programs with histories of getting results.

No detailed funding plan is outlined; however, recommendations include support for funding measures such as increased use of vouchers for schooling and housing, social-impact financing, which encourages private investments toward solving public concerns and then reimbursing those investors who achieve successful outcomes for their expenses, plus a return. The plan also recommends tiered financing, which funds a preliminary testing of ideas, followed by a rigorous testing before scaling up what works, and increasing private access to credit through reducing regulations on community banks and credit unions.

MAY
31
2016

POLICY
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Finally! Presidential campaigns talk solely education issues

By Jillian Luchner

Last week, the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) held a Presidential Forum on May 26th at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. to focus on issues in education. The forum consisted of two panels moderated by journalist and former chief CNN political correspondent Candy Crowley. The event marked one of the most prominent opportunities thus far in the 2016 presidential race for campaigns to focus solely on presenting their education policy agendas.

The first panel included Ann O’Leary, Senior Policy Advisor to Hillary Clinton, and Donni Turner, Policy Advisor with Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign. Though CEF invited and “strongly encouraged” Republican candidate Donald Trump’s campaign to participate, no representative was present. The two policy advisors on the panel, both representing Democratic candidates, began by explaining to Crowley that their education platforms were far more similar than different, but then went on to fine tune their particular candidate’s priorities and issues.

Presidential priorities made clear

According to Turner, higher education is the top focus of the Sanders agenda. His priority list also includes ensuring that educators are well-paid and highly-trained, as well as addressing child care concerns. Turner provided a list of these concerns, saying “afterschool programs are a top priority for [Sanders]” in order to give working parents choices. Turner stated that support for these issues “is important to [Sanders] because that’s what he’s hearing from families across the country because it’s important to them.”

O’Leary discussed Clinton’s focus on education “from birth to lifelong learning” with attention to both higher education and early learning, including Clinton’s belief that no American family should be paying more than 10 percent of their income on child care. O’Leary also focused on the achievement gaps and disparities between the resources and attention provided to children of different family income levels.

“It costs different amounts of money to educate different children,” said O'Leary in response to a question about whether money was the answer to supporting education. “You cannot ignore poverty as an indicator of how kids are,” she continued, suggesting that schools can provide “wraparound services” as a way to mitigate some effects of poverty.

MAY
13
2016

RESEARCH
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Can the U.S. reach 90 percent high school graduation by 2020?

By Erin Murphy

High school graduation rates have continued to grow over the last decade, reaching a record high of 82.3 percent. This graduation rate is 10 percent higher than at the turn of the century; however, over the last year the rate of increase has begun to slow. If the graduation rate continues to slow, we will not be on track to reach the goal of 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.

Earlier this week, America’s Promise Alliance, with support from Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University, released the 2016 Building a Grad Nation Report, which explores strategies to reach this major graduation goal as part of the GradNation Campaign.

Where does your state stand? This map shows how well states are progressing toward the goal of 90 percent high school graduation (or Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate, AGCR) by the year 2020.

To introduce the findings from this report, America’s Promise Alliance hosted a webinar where expert speakers and co-authors discussed the progress and challenges in ending the high school dropout epidemic and achieving a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020. Speakers included:

  • John Bridgeland, CEO and president, Civic Enterprises
  • Jennifer DePaoli, Senior Education Advisor, Civic Enterprises
  • Robert Balfanz, Director of the Everyone Graduates Center, School of Education at John Hopkins University
  • Tanya Tucker, Vice president of Alliance Engagement, America’s Promise Alliance
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learn more about: Education Reform School Improvement
MAR
3
2016

POLICY
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ESSA: A Q&A for the afterschool field

By Jillian Luchner

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) officially replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB) as the guiding, major federal education “law of the land” on Dec. 10th, 2015. However, new laws require time to phase in and transition. As policy and procedures shift from NCLB to ESSA, there are many questions which need to be answered. The process of defining answers has already begun.

The Afterschool Alliance has used the tools and resources issued by the Department of Education to create an answer sheet of Frequently Asked Questions for the Afterschool Field. Most questions surround the 21st Century Community Learning Center section of the law (Title IV B), which included some changes and new language.

One thing seems clear for now: the 2016-2017 school year will still continue under the NCLB requirements until the transition is complete. This means that the new requirements and policies under ESSA will not occur until 2017-18. (There are a few specific changes important mainly only to school and district administrators on issues such as teacher preparation and reporting on school progress).

As the implementation of the law is still a work in progress, not every question can be answered at the moment, and we will continue to update the field as we learn more.

Frequently asked questions from the afterschool field include:

  • What happened to 21st CCLC in the law?
  • Where can I find the law?
  • What happens to current grants and grantees?
MAR
1
2016

RESEARCH
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See how local partnerships are overcoming national gridlock

By Robert Abare

A new report released today reveals the ways local collaborations between varied organizations, government offices, and nonprofit institutions are yielding improved education outcomes for children in cities across the country. The report, Collective Impact and the New Generation of Cross-Sector Collaborations for Education, was conducted by researchers at Teachers College, Columbia University and commissioned by The Wallace Foundation.

Why is local collaboration taking flight? The answer may come as little surprise: dysfunction in Washington. Congressional gridlock has increasingly impeded the availability of federal funding opportunities, and the top-down school improvement strategies brought by No Child Left Behind have left many education advocates dissatisfied with national initiatives. To overcome these hurdles, local governments and organizations have been forging relationships in order to find alternative ways of improving education results. This process is often referred to as "collective impact," but was renamed "cross-sector collaboration" by the authors of this new report.

Intriguingly, the report does not attempt to determine if these collaborations are successful. Rather, it chronicles intriguing patterns in the current generation of collaborations, which suggest a new level of attention being given to the political, operational, and educational dynamics that can make or break these initiatives. In order to provide children with critical support as soon as possible, these collaborations have side-stepped an age-old argument in Washington: do disadvantaged students require the support of schools alone, or a range of societal initiatives and aids?