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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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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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DEC
19

IN THE FIELD
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Guest blog: Every Hour Counts, a report from Vermonts PreK-16 Council

By Erik Peterson

Dr. Holly Morehouse is the Executive Director of Vermont’s statewide afterschool network. Vermont Afterschool, Inc., is a statewide nonprofit that supports organizations in providing quality afterschool, summer and expanded learning experiences so that Vermont’s children and youth have the opportunities, skills and resources they need to become healthy, productive members of society.

 

 

For every $1 invested in quality afterschool and summer learning programs, Vermont sees a return of $2.18 in long-term benefits and savings.

This is just one of many findings in a new report, Every Hour Counts: Vermont’s Students Succeed with Expanded Learning Opportunities, from Vermont’s Working Group on Equity and Access in Expanded Learning Time.

The Working Group formed last June as a subcommittee of Vermont’s PreK-16 Council upon direction from the state legislature to evaluate issues of equity and access in Vermont’s Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs), including afterschool and summer learning programs. The group was charged with identifying:  key elements of quality ELOs; ways to increase access and remove barriers to ELOs across the state; and recommendations for how ELOs can support student success in Vermont.

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Caption: Vermont Afterschool, Inc. Executive Director Holly Morehouse (center in blue) presenting the Every Hour Counts report to Vermont’s PreK-16 Council.

Making the case for ELOs

With only six months to collect data, outline our findings and develop meaningful recommendations, time was short. It helped our work immensely to be able to draw on existing research and advocacy materials. Instead of trying to come up with separate quality standards, the Working Group adopted the Afterschool Alliance’s principles for effective ELOs. We also greatly benefited from the release of the America After 3PM report and data, and built off of the Afterschool Alliance’s talking points to emphasize that afterschool and summer programs keep kids safe, inspire learners and help working families.

Connecting to broader conversations in the state

The Working Group was sensitive to concerns over rising costs and increased pressures on Vermont’s education system. Instead of portraying ELOs as something added on top of these demands, we included a section highlighting how ELOs help schools and communities do what they’ve already been asked to do. In particular, the Working Group focused on how ELO programs support Vermont’s education vision by addressing the academic achievement gap and summer learning loss; supporting schools in meeting Vermont’s new Education Quality Standards; and providing opportunities in line with Vermont’s recent “Flexible Pathways” legislation.

Recommendations

Particularly exciting is the report’s recommendation to ensure that by 2020 children and youth in every Vermont community have access to quality Expanded Learning Opportunities. Getting buy-in around that statement is a big step forward for afterschool and summer learning in Vermont.

Even though we included data on how ELOs can save Vermont money over time, the Working Group decided not to include a specific financial request in the report. We wanted to avoid the cost debate that could have distracted from the message. The Working Group felt it was most important to get broad-based buy in behind the report and recommendations first. Now that the PreK-16 Council has approved, the report will be presented to a joint meeting of the Vermont House and Senate Education Committees in mid-January. In the following months, the network will develop a corresponding proposal about what it would take in funding and infrastructure to meet the goals presented in the recommendations (i.e., access in every Vermont community).

Thank you to our funders

Key to the success of the working group was analytical support that the network was able to provide through a Network Data Grant from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the C.S. Mott Foundation. The goal of this grant initiative is to help statewide networks collect relevant out-of-school time data and effectively share the data with state legislators and legislative staff, as well as other key state policy makers. 

 

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Caption: Students engaging in STEM activities at Winooski, VT’s 21st Century Community Learning Center summer learning program.

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DEC
18

STEM
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Guest blog: New insights for improving afterschool science

By Melissa Ballard

Dr. Ann House is a researcher and evaluator who works on projects that explore innovative schools, science and STEM education, and out-of-school learning settings. She is based at SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning, a nonprofit, independent research organization. Currently, Dr. House is leading the “Afterschool Science Networks Study” which explores the state of science offerings and the external sources of support for science in California’s public afterschool programs.

How can students keep learning science when the school day ends? Afterschool programs are a natural fit for hands-on science and the development of inquiry skills, like posing questions, designing scientific investigations, and creating explanations based on observations. Afterschool programs have the potential to boost students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

To understand the support networks underlying current afterschool science offerings, SRI conducted a five-year study funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the state of science learning opportunities in California’s After School and Education Safety (ASES) program.

 

 

 

 

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learn more about: Guest Blog Science State Policy Community Partners
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DEC
17

RESEARCH
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Child Care Aware publishes new report on high cost of child care

By Sophie Papavizas

A few weeks after the bi-partisan reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, Child Care Aware of America has published their annual report on Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, showing the increasing costs of child care in America.  In the recent release of America After 3 PM, the Afterschool Alliance also looked at the issue of costs, with 43 percent of parents citing the high cost of local programs as one of the major reasons for not enrolling their child in an afterschool program.

While the focus of the report is on child care for infants and toddlers, also included is data on the average annual cost of before and after school care for school aged children in each state.  The report compares these costs with the median income for both one parent and two parent households to calculate the proportion of family income going towards child care in comparison to other major expenses like housing and food.  Child Care Aware surveyed Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&Rs) State Network offices to obtain data related to the average cost of care in legally operating child care centers and family child care homes.  CCR&Rs pulled these numbers from the latest Market Rate Surveys and databases maintained by the networks.  Most data is from 2013, and older data from 2012 and 2011 was adjusted to 2013 dollars using the Consumer Price Index.

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learn more about: America After 3PM Federal Funding Federal Policy
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DEC
17

NEWS ROUNDUP
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Weekly Media Roundup  December 17, 2014

By Luci Manning

Culinary Classroom: Auburn Middle-Schoolers Compete in Junior Iron Chef Contest (Auburn Citizen, N.Y.)

Ten young chefs put their newly learned kitchen skills to the test during a Junior Iron Chef competition last week in Auburn, N.Y. Two teams of seventh- and eighth-graders made a potato and spinach hand pie they’d spent weeks modifying during an afterschool program. The competition followed several weeks of working together and learning cooking basics from professional chefs and Sarah Parisi, AJHS family and consumer sciences instructor. Organizers say the program has promoted teamwork and communication – there were no meltdowns or raised voices during the hour-long competition. “I’m really proud of them; their creativity really came out,” Parisi told the Auburn Citizen. “They’ve learned to trust each other.”

Boys & Girls Club Keeps 9-Year-Old on Positive Path (Orlando Sentinel, Fla.)

Christina Hagle developed a sharp edge to her personality after her father was taken to jail. She hid her homework, stole things and talked back to her mother – until she found the Boys & Girls Club of Lake & Sumter. Christina began going to the club after school, where she gets help with homework and participates in a variety of activities ranging from aquaponics – growing crops in water – to knitting. “The club is about teaching how to learn about different things that will protect you in life,” Christina told the Orlando Sentinel. Her mother, Tracy Kendall, said Christina has absorbed the club’s lessons on being honest and treating others with respect. “I watched my daughter grow from someone who was a troubled child to someone who is really secure with herself,” Kendall said.

‘Stellar Girls’ Keeps Science in Mind (Southtown Star, Ill.)

Men have always comprised the majority of professionals in the math and scientific fields, but Stellar Girls is hoping to change that. The iBIO Institute Educate Center’s afterschool program is designed to keep young girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and improve scientific literacy. Over the course of the full-year program, girls partake in 20 different hands-on activities focused on how STEM applications are used to “feed, fuel, sow and heal” the world. “Studies have shown that around fourth or fifth grade, girls start to get the message that math and science are just for boys,” Educate program vice president Ann Reed Vogel told the Southtown Star. “We want to help them stay interested and let them explore the bigger ideas available in STEM fields.”

Urban Gardening Yields a Bounty in Many Ways (Albany Times-Union, N.Y.)

Each year, the kids from 15-LOVE, a tennis program for inner-city youths, grow tomatoes, green beans, squash, onions, peppers, garlic and more in their urban garden, then use the fresh produce to create healthy recipes from scratch. “Each week, the kids make something different, from salads to personal pizzas,” Executive Director Amber Marino told Albany Times-Union. “It’s healthy and a lot of fun. The kids really get into it.” Growing vegetables and preparing meals with them is a revelation for many of the children, whose meals often come from cans, boxes or fast-food containers. 

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DEC
16

RESEARCH
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Making the case for afterschool using America After 3PM

By Nikki Yamashiro

To make a convincing argument, you need two essential components.  The first is a compelling story.  In the afterschool field, there is no shortage of compelling stories about the power of afterschool programs and their ability to keep kids safe, inspire learning and support working parents.  The second are data to support and substantiate your point.  This is where America After 3PM—our recently released national household survey on afterschool program participation and demand for afterschool programs—comes in.   

Last week, we hosted a webinar that focused on the variety of ways afterschool program providers, parents, students and advocates can use the recently released America After 3PM data to make the case for afterschool.  If you missed the webinar, you can still watch the recording or take a look at the PowerPoint presentation

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learn more about: Advocacy America After 3PM Media Outreach State Policy
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DEC
16

STEM
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Afterschool programs highlighted in White House Council on Women and Girls report

By Anita Krishnamurthi

The White House Council on Women and Girls recently released a report that examines a number of indicators that contribute to the well-being of women and girls of color, ranging from educational attainment to economic security to health and well-being. Of particular relevance to us, the Council highlights issues such as lagging behind in math and reading scores, school discipline issues, and under-representation in STEM education programs and careers as challenges and obstacles to educational attainment for this population.

We here at the Afterschool Alliance are delighted that the report recognizes afterschool programs for providing unique opportunities for elementary and secondary students in STEM.  One of the programs that the report highlights is the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program, which is well known to many of us in the afterschool field.  The report focuses primarily on their partnership with the General Services Administration (GSA), and lauds their success in attracting and mentoring women and other minority students.  As we have reported before, the ACE Mentor program is extremely successful in that their students, including the female participants, enroll in college engineering programs at double the rate of non-participants.  

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learn more about: NASA Obama Science
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DEC
15

POLICY
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UPDATE: FY15 spending bill passed into law; includes increase in federal afterschool funding

By Erik Peterson

After a week of wrangling and late night sessions in Congress, the Senate passed the hybrid continuing resolution/omnibus government-spending bill HR 83 the evening of Saturday, December 13th. The final bipartisan vote in the Senate was 56 to 40. The House passed the bill two nights earlier on Thursday, Dec. 11th, by a bipartisan vote of 219-206. The bill funds most federal programs through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2015, and provides temporary funding for the Department of Homeland Security through a Continuing Resolution that expires on February 27, 2015. The President is expected to promptly sign the bill into law.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 funds the government at $1.014 trillion in discretionary spending in compliance with the bipartisan Murray-Ryan budget agreement of December 2013. Overall the Department of Education was funded at $70.5 billion, a decrease of $133 million compared to FY14. With regard to afterschool and summer learning programs, funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative was increased by $2.3 million for FY15, bringing the total to $1.152 billion, up from $1.149 billion in FY14.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Budget Department of Education ESEA Federal Funding Federal Policy Legislation
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