RSS | Go To: afterschoolalliance.org
Subscribe to the Afterschool Advocate newsletter
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.
Afterschool Donation
Afterschool on Facebook
Afterschool on Twitter
Blogs We Read Afterschool Snack Bloggers
Select blogger:
Recent Afterschool Snacks
JAN
23

STEM
email
print

Afterschool STEM in the Senate ESEA working draft

By Sophie Papavizas

Last week, the Afterschool Alliance published a blog post highlighting the elimination of funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization working draft.  Investments in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (know as the STEM fields) are also missing from the bill.  The last reauthorization, also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), included a single competitive grant program dedicated exclusively to STEM at the Department of Education.   The program, named the Math and Science Partnership Program (Title II. B), was a major source of funding for professional development of math and science teachers in some states but is not included in Chairman Alexander’s current working draft.

In a letter to Senate and House Committee leadership, James Brown of the STEM Education Coalition expressed two priorities for STEM in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization.  The first is to continue to include science in the testing and accountability framework.  The second is to include a dedicated Federal funding stream for STEM-related activities.  With the accountability system’s focus on reading and math, many schools are spending less time on science and diverting funding to preparation for high-stakes tests.  Computer science and engineering are completely absent from many schools.

Afterschool programs have long stepped up to the plate to fill this gap, offering hands-on, quality learning experiences for students in a variety of STEM subjects.  The Afterschool Alliance has highlighted some of these programs in our STEM Storybook.  We need more investments in STEM education and in afterschool to ensure that our students are prepared for STEM careers.  Let your representatives know—check out our advocacy toolkit and the Afterschool Alliance ESEA reauthorization action alert.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1y98bqW
learn more about: 21st CCLC Congress ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Science
Comments: (0)
JAN
22

RESEARCH
email
print

Afterschool programs inspiring students with a connected learning approach

By Nikki Yamashiro

Today, afterschool programs are providing their students a host of learning opportunities—from designing websites to writing poetry to gardening, he list goes on and on.  But what many afterschool programs share is the way in which they approach creating learning opportunities for their students—finding new ways for students to take part in activities that are relevant to them, while building academic and workplace skills and knowledge.  Afterschool programs have been among the pioneers in applying a connected learning approach—creating a learning environment for students that builds on their interests; introduces them to new passions; provides mentors and a supportive peer network; and links this engagement to academics, careers and civic participation. 

Our new report, “Afterschool Programs: Inspiring Students with a Connected Learning Approach,” discusses the role afterschool programs play in the ecology of learning, where programs can help bridge the divides that exist in terms of access to additional learning opportunities, access to caring mentors, and access to resources and peer networks that can excite young people about the acquisition of knowledge.  The report also dives into connected learning, exploring this educational approach that is the intentional linkage of ones’ interests, peer groups and academics, and how it capitalizes on the benefits of all three areas to create a learning experience that is both powerful and enduring. 

Included in the report are examples of afterschool programs that are offering connected learning opportunities that join together their students’ interests, peer networks and academics, as well as key takeaways from programs.  For example, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, students at Createch Studio—a partnership between the St. Paul Public Library and the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Department—are able to help design the program’s space, can take part in a youth advisory council and provide input on activities offered at the program.  Students can take part in a variety of activities—such as videography, dance, design and photography—where they have the ability to create, remix and share their work.

If you’re interested in learning more about connected learning, be sure to take a look at the “Resources” section at the end of the report that includes information on networks for educators, additional reports and websites focused on connected learning.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1JnbEc1
learn more about:
Comments: (0)
JAN
22

POLICY
email
print

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.

share this link: http://bit.ly/1wq8VHE
learn more about: Congress ESEA Federal Policy
Comments: (0)
JAN
22

POLICY
email
print

New York City moving toward afterschool for all

By Rachel Clark

This month, Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong announced the opening of 49 new School’s Out New York City (SONYC) programs, adding 2,500 afterschool seats for middle schoolers.  During his term, the Mayor aims to provide an afterschool program to any middle schooler who wants one.

271 SONYC programs were launched in September, marking the largest expansion of afterschool for middle schoolers in city history, and likely in the nation.  According to Mayor de Blasio, New York City’s historic investment in middle school afterschool has resulted in enrollment reaching 121 percent for the more than 75,000 city-funded afterschool seats currently available to middle school students.  Before the expansion, New York City was already far above the national average for afterschool participation, with 28 percent of children participating compared to 18 percent nationally.

“With thousands of new seats added for our city’s youth at diverse non-public schools and community centers citywide, more of our parents and families can rest assured their children have positive alternatives during a key period of their lives,” said Mayor de Blasio.  “Every middle schooler in New York City deserves access to a safe and engaging environment after the school bell rings.”

share this link: http://bit.ly/1wpZjwG
learn more about:
Comments: (0)
JAN
21

POLICY
email
print

President Obama's State of the Union: An afterschool perspective

By Erik Peterson

Last night, President Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address to a Congress that for the first time in his presidency is controlled by Republicans in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Key highlights of the speech included tax proposals that would boost middle-class families and a new approach to immigration and a push for free education at community colleges.  Several elements of the speech are of interest to friends of afterschool, including new tax incentives for child care and a focus on community colleges.

The president proposed streamlining child care tax incentives to give middle-class families with young children a tax cut of up to $3,000 per child.  The president’s proposal would streamline and dramatically expand child care tax benefits, potentially helping 5.1 million families cover child care costs for 6.7 million children.  The proposal follows up on recent legislation and some new investments to improve child care quality, access, and affordability for working families.  The current average child care tax benefit of $550 falls short of the cost of child care, including the cost of quality school-age afterschool and summer care.  According to supplemental material from the Department of Health and Human Services, the president’s proposal would:

share this link: http://bit.ly/1yIO3zD
learn more about: Federal Policy Obama
Comments: (0)
JAN
21

IN THE FIELD
email
print

Guest blog: FIU's After-School All-Stars program helps middle school students excel in school, life

By Rachel Clark

Natalia Sol is the Vice President of External Relations for After-School All-Stars, dedicated to supporting the South Florida chapter of the organization.

Pictured:  Left to Right: JJ Calvo (NY Life Hispanic Initiative), Natalia Sol (ASAS SF), Dean Delia Garcia (FIU, College of Education), Pat Mccraw and Tom Krach (NY Life, an ASAS National Partner), President Mark Rosenberg (FIU), and Ben Gilbert (ASAS SF, Board Chair)

For the parents of countless Miami-Dade middle school children living in at-risk communities, the end of the school day can be filled with worry.

Did my son make it home safe?  Is my daughter really doing her homework?  Are they getting enough exercise?

Erik Torres, however, isn’t worrying at all.  Instead, he’s dreaming about all the things his 13-year-old daughter Victoria could do with a college degree thanks to preparation for high school and college success she receives South Florida branch of the After-School All-Stars program (ASAS), which recently partnered with FIU’s College of Education.

share this link: http://bit.ly/159F5Rj
learn more about: Guest Blog
Comments: (0)
JAN
21

NEWS ROUNDUP
email
print

Weekly Media Roundup  January 21, 2015

By Luci Manning

Pupils Use Microscopes, Food Coloring to Study Dairy Foods (The Daily Item, Pennsylvania)

Oaklyn Elementary School students had a “dairy” fun time experimenting with milk during their STEM-focused afterschool program last week.  The program is designed to assist at-risk students having academic and behavioral issues, and get them interested in STEM subjects.  Each week focuses on a different food topic, and last week was dedicated to milk.  Students at one station observed curds and whey under a microscope.  At another, they separated the fat content, and at a third, they observed the effects of food coloring on different types of milk.  “They don’t get to do these kinds of things in school,” John Ryan, owner of Customized Tutoring Services, which coordinated the program, told The Daily Item.  “We’ve gotten a lot of good responses from the kids, the staff and the parents.”

Millburn High School Students Learn Philanthropy (The Item of Millburn and Short Hills, New Jersey)

Millburn High School alumnus Yale Levey has returned to his alma mater to train students in the art of philanthropy.  Through his ten-week afterschool program, students raised money and donated about $1,600 to several New Jersey charities.  In order to decide who to give to, the students interviewed representatives from each charity and evaluated their tax returns.  Levey noted that it was difficult for the students to choose some charities over others, but that’s the point of the program.  “It’s intended on being an experience that pulls you out of your comfort zone,” he told The Item of Millburn and Short Hills.  The students presented representatives of the selected nonprofits with checks during a ceremony on January 6.

District Finding Uses for Federal Grants (Mohave Valley Daily News, Arizona)

Children in the Bullhead City Elementary School District (BHCESD) are learning the art of drone photography, thanks to federal grants awarded to five of the district’s six campuses.  The 21st Century Community Learning Center grants, which total about $600,000, are allowing students to participate in dozens of afterschool activities that address a wide variety of student interests.  The students are learning to operate drones, write computer code and build rockets, BHCESD’s curriculum and professional development director Cynthia Neuzil told the Mohave Valley Daily News.

On the Bright Side: Group Shows Jumping Rope Not Just a Game (The Daily Star, New York)

The Red Hot Ropers Jumprope afterschool program in Cooperstown is in its 23rd year of helping students learn new skills, exercise and have fun.  Third-grader Lucy Hayes said her favorite routine is one she does with a friend where they trade shoes while jumping rope.  Adviser and elementary physical education teacher Connie Herzig said the program gives the students a lot confidence and brings their strengths to the forefront.  “I love the way it creates an opportunity for exercise in the winter months,” she told The Daily Star.  “It taps into creativity, cooperation and joy. The kids just love it.”  The group has several performances on its calendar in the next month, including February 8 at halftime of the State University College at Oneonta men’s basketball game. 

share this link: http://bit.ly/159sNbO
learn more about: 21st CCLC Health and Wellness Science
Comments: (0)
JAN
20

RESEARCH
email
print

New report: Findings on expanded learning time in four states

By Nikki Yamashiro

Last week, the Center on Education Policy (CEP), based at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, released “Expanded Learning Time: A Summary of Findings from Case Studies in Four States,” a report examining the strategies being used by schools and school districts to expand learning time, as well as the impact, challenges and successes of expanded learning time (ELT) initiatives.  While the report includes a number of insights regarding what ELT looks like at various sites and how schools and districts have implemented ELT, a central takeaway of the report is that ELT is just one way schools can help improve student achievement.  Authors of the study, as well as education leaders interviewed for the study, agree that although ELT can have a positive effect on student achievement in school if it is a part of school improvement efforts, it should be one of an assortment of strategies to improve student achievement. 

The report focuses on 17 low-performing schools within 11 school districts that have implemented expanded learning time.  The four states in which the school districts are located—Connecticut, Colorado, Oregon, and Virginia—have been granted Elementary and Secondary Education (ESEA) waivers, which means that they have greater flexibility on how to use certain federal funding streams for increased learning time, and a majority of the schools either received School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding or were identified as a “priority” school under ESEA waivers.  The report’s authors conducted site visits of all 11 school districts and a majority of the schools, interviewing close to 50 education leaders, including education officials, district leaders and school principals.  Below are key findings from the report:

share this link: http://bit.ly/1xSvENd
learn more about: Extended Day
Comments: (0)