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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.
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.”
This study of 1,364 families followed children from birth through age 15 to examine how early life experiences affect adolescent development. The study found that participation in both early child care and out-of-school time activities during middle childhood were linked to higher reading comprehension and math achievement at age 15, suggesting an additive effect. Additionally, participation in more organized activities in the elementary years was associated with higher vocabulary scores at age 15 and greater social confidence.
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.
A statewide evaluation of Hawaii’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) programs during the 2018-19 program year found students in the program made academic and behavioral gains. The percent of students who missed 15 or more days of school throughout the year was significantly less for 21st CCLC participants compared to non-participants. In addition, those who participated in 21st CCLC programs were more likely to meet or exceed proficiency in math and reading compared to non-participants.
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.
A statewide evaluation of Massachusetts’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program during the 2017-18 program year found that, based on teacher ratings, program participants made gains in math and reading/English language arts achievement. Teachers and program staff also noted increases in outcomes including students’ critical thinking skills, perseverance, and communication. English language learners, students receiving special education services, and economically disadvantaged students made particularly strong gains for certain outcomes.
A statewide evaluation of Hawaii’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) programs during the 2017-18 school year examined outcomes related to participants’ educational, social, and behavioral developments. Based on teacher reports, among students who participated in the program 30 days or more, 82 percent improved turning in the homework on time and classroom participation and 79 percent improved their behavior in class. Of the sub-grantees reporting on academic improvement, 69 percent of students regularly attending the program showed improvements in English and 72 percent saw gains in math based on teacher surveys.
A 2019 evaluation by Education Northwest of Alaska’s 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) afterschool programs found that students who participated more regularly in programs saw greater academic and behavioral gains. Teachers surveyed reported that an overwhelming majority of students attending the program for at least 60 days saw improvements in their academic performance (72 percent), participation in class (71 percent), and ability to persevere through challenges (66 percent), as well as their ability to form positive relationships with adults (70 percent) and work collaboratively with peers (68 percent).