A project of the Afterschool Alliance.

21st Century Community Learning Centers 2016-2017 Program Year Evaluation Report (Colorado)

Year Published: 2018

A statewide evaluation of Colorado’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) programs during the 2016-17 school year found positive gains related to student participants’ academic performance, engagement in school, and school-day behavior. Teachers reported that among students regularly attending the program and who were in need of improvement, a strong majority improved their academic performance (76 percent), class participation (73 percent), motivation to learn (66 percent), classroom attentiveness (66 percent), relationships with their peers (62 percent), homework completion (60 percent), and behavior in class (60 percent). Program directors were also surveyed and they discussed how the program provided a host of supports to students and their families, including creating a safe space for students, which also provided peace of mind for families; provided a place for students to build connections to their peers; and offered classes to family members, such as GED and ESL classes.  

Program Name: Colorado 21st Century Community Learning Centers

Program Description:

Colorado’s 21st Century Community Learning Center program—which receives federal support through the 21st CCLC initiative—serves high-needs communities across the state, providing local afterschool and summer programming through 103 centers serving 23,974 students and 3,612 family members during the 2016-17 school year.

Scope of the Evaluation: Statewide

Program Type: Afterschool

Location: Colorado

Grade level: Elementary School, Middle School, High School

Program Demographics:

All schools served by Colorado’s 21st CCLC programs are Title I eligible, meaning more than 40 percent of students qualify for Free and Reduced Price Lunch. Of students participating in Colorado’s 21st CCLC program, 42.7 percent were white, 19.5 percent were “some other race,” 8 percent were Black or African American, 7.5 percent were “American Indian or Native Alaskan,” 7.4 percent were “unknown”, 2.5 percent were Asian, 1.8 percent were multi-racial, and 0.7 percent were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. The report posits that a percentage of students classified as “some other race” would be categorized as Hispanic or Latino based on data that 27 percent of students served by the program spoke Spanish.  

Program Website: https://www.cde.state.co.us/21stcclc/

Evaluator: Catherine Roller White Consulting.

Evaluation Methods:

Data on student attendance was collected through the EZReports data management system. Teacher and program director surveys were also administered to collect information on student progress from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective.  

Evaluation Type: Non-experimental

Summary of Outcomes:

Evaluation of Colorado’s 21st CCLC programs found positive gains in academics, homework completion, school engagement, and behavior among students regularly attending the program. During the 2016-17 academic year, among students who attended the 21st CCLC program for 30 days or more (regular attendees) and were in need of improvement in the following areas, teachers reported that 76 percent improved their academic performance and approximately 6 in 10 improved completing their homework to their teacher’s satisfaction (60 percent) and turning in homework on time (58 percent). Additionally, teachers reported that 66 percent of students improved paying attention in class and close to half improved their regular classroom attendance (49 percent).  

When looking at outcomes related to behavior, teachers reported that among regularly attending students who were in need of improvement in the following areas, strong majorities of students made improvements in participating in class (73 percent), coming to school motivated to learn (66 percent), getting along with their peers (62 percent), and classroom behavior (60 percent).   

Program directors at centers in their last year of funding were also surveyed and asked to reflect on the meaning of the 21st CCLC grant for their students over the past five years. Many directors discussed how the program provided a safe space for students, a place to build connections to their peers and take part in diverse activities that included academic supports. Benefits to families included providing them with peace of mind knowing that children were in a safe place, helping families work more hours, and offering classes to family members, such as GED and ESL classes. Directors also reported that they believed that the program helped with school-wide academic gains, noting that Denver Public Schools moved off of the “priority improvement” list, from a “red school” to a “green school.”