Leveraging the Afterschool Value Added Terry Peterson, Ph.D . Terry is the Director of the Afterschool And Community Learning Resource Network, funded by the Mott Foundation. He is also the University of South Carolina Educational Foundation Senior Fellow for Policies and Partnerships and educational consultant to the dean at the College of Charleston. He can be reached by calling 843.953.7403 or 803.238.4343, or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
In too many schools 3pm marks a daily missed opportunity.
It’s when learning effectively stops.
Many school districts’ investments in learning resources and facilities sit idle.
Afterschool programs make a positive difference.
Surveys show that an overwhelming majority (90%) support afterschool programs, and most (76%) would be willing to pay extra taxes to make them available.
Rising academic standards require students to have more learning opportunities.
Changing workplace demands means parents need additional support supervising their children after school.
There was tremendous growth in afterschool programs through the 1990s. Local, State, and Federal budget cuts have halted that growth.
Are we missing a prime opportunity to fill the after school hours with enriching activities and expanded learning opportunities?
Superintendents face great challenges:
increase student performance and academic standards while balancing financial concerns with limited public support.
While some still see afterschool programs as an extraneous burden, others are leveraging existing resources to provide effective programming.
Utilizing existing resources this way demonstrates to taxpayers that their investments are being used efficiently.
Reducing afterschool funding is seen as a mistake.
Extensive research on the effectiveness of afterschool programs in terms of student achievement, social interaction, and safety clearly demonstrates that, if done properly, they live up to their promise.
According to Anne Duncan, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools: “ For the first time ever, we have 8 th graders beating national norms…part of the reason-we think we did so much better is [that] last year we added about 50,000 students to our after-school programming. So [after-school] is a core, a core part of our educational strategy.”
Learning and Growth
Well-structured afterschool programs effectively expand learning time for students.
reinforce classroom work
develop team-building and leadership skills
“ 21 st Century skills
California students who participated in afterschool programs for 7 or more months demonstrated improvements in math scores that were 2.5 times greater than found statewide. Attendance was also greatly improved as compared to the previous year.
“ High quality afterschool programs don’t just keep children away from trouble. In today’s educational world, where the expected level of achievement keeps rising, afterschool opportunities provide the extra time and help that many children need.” - Inez Tenenbaum, South Carolina State Superintendent of Education
One outlier : an examination of pre-NCLB 21 st Century Community Learning Centers programs. Results are likely related to the fact that pre-NCLB programs were not required to make academics priority.
A Resource Question
Federal funding increase for 21 st Century Community Learning Centers would be helpful. States could provide a boost by including afterschool funding in their state school finance formulas.
One answer - Leverage existing resources:
parks and recreation
faith, cultural, and civic organizations
computer and language labs
Keep children learning after 3pm
Some resources can be found within the district. By combining district and school programs that have a student and community focus allows for higher participation with lower per-student costs.
Afterschool programs can be part of a broader outreach effort to parents and other family members.
These efforts can build a critical mass that can lead to the employment of a full-time coordinator. By working with principals these coordinators can continue to build public support for both the afterschool programs and the school in general.
The cost of afterschool programs is significantly less expensive than the regular school day. Most of the operating cost and overhead is already paid for.
The synergies to be found in afterschool programming are not limited to the financial side.
The afterschool environment can attract participation of other groups who are interested in helping children such as parents, senior citizens, volunteer and mentoring organizations.
Afterschool programs are useful tools for accomplishing multiple goals. Robust and comprehensive afterschool programs are an important way to leverage more student success and public support.