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A 2020 evaluation of the Oregon chapter of the Mathematics, Engineering & Science Achievement (MESA) afterschool program found positive impacts on academic achievement and high school graduation. Using a quasi-experimental design, researchers found that MESA students had higher science test scores and were significantly more likely to graduate from high school compared to their matched non-participating peers. Researchers wrote that, “This relationship suggests MESA participation has a tangible and important effect on high school graduation.”
A statewide evaluation of Kentucky’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) programs during the 2018-19 school year found that regular program attendees improved their math and reading/ELA grades from the fall to spring, and a majority reached proficient/distinguished on the Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP). Based on teacher surveys, among those who needed to improve, an overwhelming majority of both elementary and high school students improved in academic performance, class participation, and homework completion. Students also reported benefits of the programs, including helping them complete their homework, get better grades, and challenge them to do their best.
The study found that students who participated in the Higher Achievement afterschool and summer program over the course of two years had statistically significantly higher grades in math, English, and science, as well as higher overall GPAs, compared to a matched control group. The program appeared to be most effective for students who joined the program on grade level. The subgroup analysis also found that male students in the program also saw greater gains in math compared to girls in year one and two of the program.
A longitudinal study of voluntary summer learning programs, led by five school districts located in urban communities across the country, followed students from 3rd to 7th grade and found positive academic gains among the randomly assigned students to the program compared to the control group of their nonparticipating peers. After the first and second summer of program participation, program attendees outperformed control-group students. Statistically significant differences were found in math achievement after the first summer, and math, language arts, and social and emotional skills after the second summer. Researchers followed up on program participants three years after the second summer of program participation and found that while academic gains compared to average gains made in a year were no longer statistically significant, they were still large enough to be meaningful.
This 2019 evaluation of Washington’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program found that students who consistently attended programs had a higher percentage of credits earned, cumulative GPA, and a lower number of school day absences and disciplinary incidents compared to non-attendees. Additionally, most students reported that it was completely or mostly true that the program helped them improve their academic behavior (81 percent) and self-management skills (77 percent). Students who regularly attended programming for two years had statistically significant higher reading and math test scores, lower school day absences, and a higher percentage of credits earned compared to students who did not attend at these levels. This finding suggests the importance of regular and continued program participation.
A 2019 evaluation of Virginia’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers found that based on teacher-reported outcomes, an overwhelming majority of students improved their academic performance (63 percent), classroom behavior (70 percent), and homework completion and class participation (77 percent). Additionally, students indicated that the programs helped them get better grades, attend class regularly, behave in class, and “prepare for a job or career”. When comparing 21st CCLC students to non-attendees, students receiving special education services in the programs outperformed those not in programs.
A 2019 evaluation of New Mexico’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) programs by the New Mexico Public Education Department found that the programs had a positive impact on students’ academic achievement. Among the students in the programs, 29 percent raised their grade by a full letter grade by the end of the school year and 49 percent of students who earned below a passing grade raised their grade by the end of the year. Additionally, 66 percent of students who earned a passing grade in the first grading period maintained their grade throughout the year. There was a high level of satisfaction of New Mexico’s 21st CCLC programs, where, 95 percent of students, family, and staff surveyed agreed that the program was of high quality.
The Center for Applied Research in Human Development at the University of Connecticut and the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) jointly conducted a study of Connecticut’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) afterschool programs that looked at students enrolled in the program between 2013 and 2017 and the impact of attendance on academics and school day attendance. The study found that students participating in Connecticut’s 21st CCLC programs for multiple years had significantly higher school day attendance rates and performed better on Connecticut's standardized math and language arts tests when compared to their peers who participated for only one year.
A statewide evaluation of Michigan’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) programs found that based on grades and surveys of teachers, students, and parents, students attending a program for at least 30 days (regular attendees) saw academic gains, as well as improvements in their behavior and engagement in school. Approximately half of students with room for improvement (defined as having a fall GPA below 3.0), saw grade improvement in math (52 percent) and English/language arts (51 percent) from fall to spring. Teacher surveys also reflected an improvement in classroom performance for behaviors such as turning in homework on time and participating in class (74 percent), as well as getting along with other students (79 percent). In addition, both students and parents reported overall positive perceptions of program impact on academic learning and behavior.
A statewide evaluation of Alaska’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) programs examined student improvement in academic performance and social and emotional skills. Gains were seen across grade levels and teacher reports indicate that the greater the program attendance, the greater the percentage of students that improved in each category. Teachers reported that 75 percent of students regularly participating in programs improved their overall academic performance and the majority of students demonstrated growth in their social and emotional skills and behavior, such as forming positive relationships with adults (70 percent), working collaboratively with peers (68 percent), and seeking assistance (68 percent).