Afterschool Programs Close Achievement Gap

by | Oct 3, 2014


Afterschool Programs Close Achievement Gap Picture

Nationwide, 15 million children who are left unsupervised after school. New research by Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, Dean of the School of Education at the University of California Irvine, shows that there is a relationship between afterschool activities and boosting academic performance and work habits. The results are especially true for children of low-income families.

Vandell’s findings include the following:

  • Children who consistently participate in afterschool programs are more likely to achieve better scores in mathematics by fifth grade.
  • Afterschool participation is linked to eliminating the achievement gap between children from low-income families as to high-income families.

This new research has captured the attention of parents as well as policymakers about the value of extending the school day through partnerships with afterschool programs.

Vandell does point out that the quality of the programs matter. She emphasizes that the activities should include adults, peers, and should engage the children. The activities seem to have a greater impact on low-income children as compared to moderate- or high-income children. Vandell suggest this is because generally low-income children have less of an opportunity to participate in such activities. For most children of low-income families, afterschool activities provides opportunities that they otherwise may not have had.

Vandell also notes the importance of evaluating the programs for efficacy. By evaluating the programs, they will be given feedback to help guide them in improving where needed, such as professional development, curriculum selection and targeted outreach.

As previously discussed in this article, the Indiana Afterschool Network is working to improve the quality of afterschool programs. They have several resources available for programs to use to enhance their quality, such as the Afterschool Standards, Program Self-Assessment and Training opportunities.

Has your organization ever considered funding your mission with federal dollars? Does your organization provide a before or afterschool program? Transform Consulting Group works with a variety of afterschool programs to evaluate their impact, align their curriculum to what works and train staff. Contact us today for a free consultation!



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