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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
9
2017

RESEARCH
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Looking for evidence on the impact of afterschool?

By Nikki Yamashiro

Look no further! Adding to the research conversation discussing the value of afterschool and summer learning programs, the Afterschool Alliance has released two new fact sheets that provide a sampling of evaluation findings demonstrating the positive impact programs have on students, with subjects ranging from helping students become more engaged in learning to improving students’ foundational skills, such as communication and decision-making skills. 

The two fact sheets include different sets of information meant to complement one another. What does the research say about 21st Century Community Learning Centers? focuses specifically on findings from evaluations of Community Learning Centers programs, including statewide evaluations from a number of states across the country, such as California, Texas, and West Virginia. On the other hand, What does the research say about afterschool? includes student outcomes from evaluations of afterschool programs more broadly, comprising evaluations of Community Learning Centers programs as well as referencing meta-analyses (an approach that looks at multiple studies and their data) and national-level studies.

If you are in search of how to make an evidence-based case for afterschool, you can pluck findings from these fact sheets to demonstrate that there is a body of research that both establishes and confirms that afterschool works.

Didn’t find exactly what you’re looking for? Search our Impacts Database and filter for evaluations focused on everything from the evaluations’ findings, such as attendance and behavior, to the age of students served. The database, which we continuously update and add to, currently includes more than 60 evaluations. If you have an evaluation you think we should include, email us at info@afterschoolalliance.org.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Evaluation and Data
SEP
14
2017

POLICY
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$100 million win for afterschool as amendment passes House of Representatives

By Erik Peterson

Last night the House of Representatives voted 228 to 188 in support of the DeLauro/Lowey amendment (#161) to restore $100 million of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) afterschool and summer learning funding that had been cut in the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act (H.R. 3354). The vote sends a strong signal of bipartisan support for afterschool and summer learning programs as the appropriations process continues into the fall.

The amendment vote was the latest step in the long appropriations and spending process that began last spring when the president’s budget proposed elimination of Community Learning Centers afterschool funding. The inclusion of the amendment stands as a testament to the hard work of our field — advocates and allied organizations have delivered more than 78,600 calls and emails to Congress in support of federal funding for local afterschool and summer learning programs since March. Read Afterschool Alliance Executive Director Jodi Grant’s statement here.

AUG
18
2017

RESEARCH
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Guest blog: Q&A with an afterschool researcher, part II

By Guest Blogger

Welcome to part II of our Q&A with Neil Naftzger, American Institutes for Research (AIR), about his evaluation work related to 21st CCLC programs specifically and the afterschool field broadly. Below are answers to oneof the questions we asked, with our emphasis added in bold, which establish that there is in fact clear evidence demonstrating that 21st CCLC work for students. To read part I, click here.

What changes would you like to see in terms of 21st CCLC data collection and evaluation?

This is a big question. First, I think we need to be clear around the purposes we’re trying to support through data collection and evaluation. Normally, we think about this work as falling within three primary categories:

  1. Data to support program staff in learning about quality practice and effective implementation
  2. Data to monitor the participation and progress of enrolled youth
  3. Data to assess the impact of the program on youth that participate regularly in the program

States have done an amazing job over the span of the past decade to develop quality improvement systems predicated on using quality data to improve practice (purpose #1). Effective afterschool quality improvement systems start with a shared definition of quality. In recent years, state 21st CCLC systems have come to rely upon formal assessment tools like the Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) and the Assessment of Program Practices Tool (APT-O) to provide that definition, allowing 21st CCLC grantees to assess how well they are meeting these criteria and crafting action plans to intentionally improve the quality of programming. Use of these tools typically involves assigning a score to various program practices in order to quantify the program’s performance and establish a baseline against which to evaluate growth. A recent report completed by AIR indicates approximately 70 percent of states have adopted a quality assessment tool for use by their 21st CCLC grantees. Our sense is that these systems have been critical to enhancing the quality of 21st CCLC programs, and any efforts to modify the 21st CCLC data collection landscape should ensure program staff have the support and time necessary to participate in these important processes.

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learn more about: 21st CCLC Evaluation and Data
AUG
3
2017

POLICY
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You are here: The policy road map to protecting afterschool funding

By Erik Peterson

With more than half the calendar year behind us and only two months left in the 2017 federal fiscal year, now is a great time to pause and reflect on the ongoing quest to protect and grow federal funding for afterschool and summer learning programs. Much has happened since the March 16 release of the Trump administration’s skinny budget which proposed to eliminate federal 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funding for almost 1.6 million students—yet there is still a long way to go.

Making progress

The administration’s FY2018 skinny budget released in mid-March, and the subsequent full budget proposal released in late-May, both proposed to eliminate $1.1 billion in Community Learning Centers funding that allows local afterschool and summer learning providers in all 50 states to offer quality enrichment and academic programming to 1.6 million students in grades K through 12. The Administration justified the proposed elimination of the program by pointing to data from a 12 year old report with flawed methodology that questioned the effectiveness of the program.

The response to the proposed elimination was swift:

  • Since March 1: We've made approximately 71,500 points of contact with Congress -- including calls, emails, and letters
  • March 2017: Multiple summaries of recent Community Learning Centers afterschool evaluations were published, showing widespread positive outcomes in classroom attendance, student behavior, grades and academics, and engagement.
  • Since April 6: At dozens of site visits around the country, members of Congress or their staff were able to meet students, parents, and program staff and see first-hand the impact of Community Learning Centers funded programs
  • April 10: Bipartisan Dear Colleague Letters circulate in Congress and gain signatures from more than 80 Representatives and more than 30 Senators. On the same day, an organizational support letter signed by 1,400 groups and a second support letter signed by 130 public health organizations are released.
  • June 6: During the Afterschool for All Challenge, advocates held more than 250 in-person meetings on Capitol Hill with policymakers.
  • June 28: Multiple briefings are held for Congressional staff, featuring program providers, local elected officials, students and more.

A tremendous thank you to all of the parents, advocates, friends of afterschool, national afterschool and summer learning providers, and supporters that joined together to reach out directly and through stakeholders to provide research and examples of the effectiveness of Community Learning Centers-funded programs. We’ve also seen a flood of media outreach in national and local press.

So... where do we go from here?

AUG
2
2017

RESEARCH
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AFT poll shows opposition to federal funding cuts to education

By Nikki Yamashiro

The clear message coming out of a recent national poll on attitudes toward federal education spending is that voters are overwhelmingly opposed to the federal government cutting funds for public education.

In the poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates for the American Federation of Teachers, close to 3 in 4 voters say that they are opposed to the Trump administration’s proposal to cut federal spending on education by 13.5 percent while “cutting taxes for large corporations and wealthy individuals” and 73 percent say that they find this to be an unacceptable way to reduce spending by the federal government. When asked about the proposed elimination of funding for afterschool and summer learning programs, more than 7 in 10 voters responded that it was an unacceptable cut.

JUL
28
2017

RESEARCH
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Guest blog: Q&A with an afterschool researcher

By Guest Blogger

In May, the proposed FY2018 budget eliminated funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), the only federal funding stream dedicated to before-school, afterschool, and summer learning programs. In the budget, a justification given for the elimination of funding was that there is no demonstrable evidence that 21st CCLC programs have a positive impact on the students attending the programs. Although we have highlighted the existing body of research underscoring the difference 21st CCLC programs are making in the lives of students participating in programs, we decided to go directly to the source, asking someone who has conducted evaluations on 21st CCLC programs for 14 years. 

We posed a few questions to Neil Naftzger, American Institutes for Research (AIR), about his evaluation work related to 21st CCLC programs specifically, and the afterschool field broadly. Below are answers to two of the questions we asked, with our emphasis added in bold, which establish that there is in fact clear evidence demonstrating that 21st CCLC work for students. 

What are the strongest findings across your research on 21st CCLC programs? Do you see any important non-academic benefits from afterschool and summer learning programs?

JUL
21
2017

POLICY
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Afterschool shines in ESSA implementation hearing

By Erik Peterson

On July 18, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce Education (HEW) convened a hearing entitled “ESSA Implementation: Exploring State and Local Reform Efforts.” The hearing focused on what states have done so far to develop their consolidated state accountability plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and whether the federal government and the Department of Education (ED) need to do more or less to assist in their development and review.

A recurring theme of the hearing was the pending appropriations debate that would potentially shortchange a number of ESSA and education related programs. The hearing also included a robust conversation on supporting students through afterschool and summer learning programs, and Dr. Gail Pletnick, president of the State Superintendents Association (AASA), emphasized the point that afterschool programs are key investments in supporting student attendance and achievement and engaging students and parents in education.

JUL
20
2017

POLICY
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House Appropriations Committee cuts afterschool by $191 million

By Erik Peterson

The full House Appropriations Committee met for a marathon mark up of the FY2018 education-funding bill on July 19, starting at 9:30 a.m. and lasting late into the evening. The FY2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS) Appropriations Act sets funding levels for all federal education, human services, and health and labor programs—including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, which provides federal funds leveraged by local school-community partnerships to provide quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

The Committee voted to approve the House LHHS FY2018 spending bill on a party line vote of 28 – 22. The bill includes a $191 million cut to 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool funding. The cut brings funding for local afterschool and summer learning programs below the current authorized level to the lowest level of federal afterschool funding since 2007 and means approximately 192,000 children could lose access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs next year. An updated table shows how the proposed cut to afterschool will be felt in all 50 states.