A project of the Afterschool Alliance.

The Impact of Girls Inc. on Academic and Behavioral Outcomes

Year Published: 2020

This quasi-experimental study of Girls Inc.—a year-round program located in more than 350 cities for girls ages 5-18 that focuses on healthy living, academic enrichment, and building positive life skills—found that girls who participated in the program reported more positive attitudes and behaviors than a comparison group of girls across the 27 outcomes that were measured in the categories of healthy living, academic engagement and success, and life skills. Girls Inc. participants also had higher math achievement test scores and school-day attendance rates than matched non-participants. By year two of the program, 23 of the 27 outcomes were statistically significant in the positive direction, including outcomes such as school engagement; finding school fun in areas like reading, math, and science; getting excited about science; engaging in physical activity; leadership; positive relationships with adults; and postsecondary readiness. 

Program Name: Girls Inc.

Program Description:

Girls Inc. is a national organization that provides evidence-based programming to support the overall development of young females age 5-18. The program provides programming to support three main areas of development—healthy living, academics, and life skills and character development. 

Scope of the Evaluation: National

Program Type: Afterschool

Grade level: Elementary School, Middle School, High School

Program Website: https://girlsinc.org/

Evaluator: American Institutes for Research

Evaluation Methods:

This study was conducted over a two-year period with data from the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years and assessed outcomes in three areas—healthy living (Strong), academic engagement and success (Smart), and life skills or character development (Bold). Data was collected from two sources, the Strong, Smart, and Bold Outcomes Survey (SSBOS)—which is Girls Inc.’s annual survey, and school related data, which includes achievement scores, school-day attendance, and suspension rates. Two different samples of girls were included in the study (one for the SSBOS outcomes and another for the school related outcomes), and each had a matched comparison group of non-participants. A regression analysis was used to determine differences in outcomes between the Girls Inc. girls and the comparison group. 

Evaluation Type: Quasi-experimental

Summary of Outcomes:

The study found that girls who participated in the Girls Inc. program reported more positive attitudes and behaviors than a comparison group of girls. After one year of program participation, 19 of the 27 total outcomes measured by the Strong, Smart, and Bold Outcomes Survey (SSBOS) were statistically significant in the expected direction. By year two, this number grew to 23 of the 27 outcomes.

The Strong outcomes measured girls’ healthy living habits, and the study found that by year two, four out of six of the outcomes measured were statistically significant. Girls in the program exhibited better eating habits, physical activity, sports team participation, and body image compared to matched non-participants. 

For the Smart outcomes, which measured academic engagement and success, Girls Inc. girls outperformed their matched peers on all 14 measures in year two, including school engagement; finding school fun in areas such as reading, math, and science; getting excited about science, postsecondary readiness; and feelings of academic competency. After one year, participants outperformed the comparison group on 13 out of 14 of the outcomes measured.

Additional STEM-specific outcomes included Girls Inc. participants reporting that they were more likely to be curious to learn more about science, computers, or technology; want to understand science; see how things are made; and would like to have a computer or science job in the future compared to their non-participating peers.

Finally, the SSBOS measured outcomes related to life skills and character development (Bold), and found that five of the seven outcomes measured were significant in year two. These include leadership, positive relationships with adults, standing up for fairness and beliefs, civic efficacy, and social responsibility.

In addition to examining the differences between the Girls Inc. participants and the comparison group, the study also looked differences by demographic characteristics, and found that the program may be more beneficial for teenage girls than younger girls.

The second part of the study looked at school related outcomes. It was found that for both year one and year two, Girls Inc. girls had statistically significantly higher mathematics achievement test scores compared to their matched peers; however, their English language arts (ELA) scores were comparable. Girls Inc. girls also had slightly higher school-day attendance rates compared to non-participants, however, the difference was only significant in year one. Finally, Girls Inc. girls had lower rates of suspension than the comparison group. After year one, there was a statistically significant difference in suspension rates, where the suspension rate was 79 percent lower for Girls Inc. girls compared to their matched peers. This difference was not significant in year two, however, there was limited data collected that year.

Date Added: July 7, 2021