"Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project" Launch Highlights Research and Promising Practices
WASHINGTON, March 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Every child deserves a great education and afterschool programs are helping turn that goal into reality. An exhaustive review of more than 60 research studies concludes that high quality afterschool programs accelerate student achievement. The report comes at a critical time amid budget shortfalls and a changing policy landscape. States and educators are increasingly finding that taking advantage of the time beyond school is an effective and sustainable way to improve educational outcomes. In fact, nationally, more than one million children participate in afterschool programs funded through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers federal program.
The new report from Joseph A. Durlak of Loyola University Chicago and Roger P. Weissberg of the University of Illinois at Chicago ties high quality afterschool programs to a twelve percentage point reduction in problem behaviors and a seven percentage point reduction in drug use. It also ties the programs to a six percentage point gain in attendance, an eight percentage point gain in standardized test scores and a nine percentage point gain in grades.
"This research proves what parents and educators have understood for years: when students participate in high quality afterschool programs, they go to school more often, behave better, get better grades and do better on tests," said Joe Davis, a former Bureau Chief in the Florida Department of Education, who is a spokesperson for the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project and the current Chief Operating Officer of the Florida Afterschool Network. "The best part for schools and districts considering ways to leverage the time beyond school is that these programs are affordable and community-driven, and now there's research to show they also accelerate student achievement."
The Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project – a 50-state initiative supported by a coalition of funders including the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, David & Lucile Packard Foundation, Noyce Foundation and Open Society Foundations – today released the research through a webinar to educators, afterschool leaders, policymakers and education advocates. The Project launched with an overwhelming showing of support from more than 450 local, state and national organizations.
"Doing all we can to improve student achievement just makes sense, and it calls for robust technical assistance for the professionals who are dedicated to making this important goal a reality," said Gwynn Hughes, Program Officer for the Mott Foundation. "We are pleased that the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project is providing educators with a variety of tools and supports to make the most effective use of the time beyond school."
"The Noyce Foundation believes that high quality expanded learning and afterschool can provide engaging, hands-on science, engineering and technology experiences that will encourage more students to pursue STEM careers and enhance general STEM knowledge," said Ron Ottinger, Executive Director of the Noyce Foundation. "We support the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project because we know that school and community partnerships are essential to providing engaged learning experiences and that for schools and districts considering ways to leverage the time beyond school, these programs are affordable and sustainable approaches to helping students succeed."
Jeff Sunshine, Program Officer and Manager for The David and Lucile Packard Foundation said, "Research shows that quality after-school and summer programs can enhance the work of the school day and boost student achievement. We are pleased to support the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project in creating a vibrant on-line learning hub that brings together research and state-of- the-art practice to support the continued development of out of school time programs."
"We're excited about this new initiative and have long believed in the possibility of afterschool and expanded learning time programs to give students the skills and knowledge they need to compete in the global economy and become productive and engaged citizens," said Mimi Corcoran, Director of the Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation with the Open Society Foundations.
In addition to an online information hub featuring research and promising practices, the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project is supporting schools and their community learning partners in developing affordable and sustainable approaches to expanded learning. As part of this effort, statewide afterschool networks across America will be hosting state stakeholder summits to capture and share the best practices and research about high quality programs that expand learning opportunities in their states. Diverse stakeholders will be asked to discuss the extra opportunities and learning supports that would help students acquire the skills they need to prepare for college and career and to be successful in life. Kicking off in Florida, Kansas, Indiana and Iowa, these statewide summits will inform a national conversation on how to best leverage the time beyond the school day to accelerate student achievement in all 50 states.
"The Project's website www.expandinglearning.org gives educators, parents and community leaders across the country access to more than a decade of research and practice into how we can advance education through high quality afterschool programs," said Cathy DelVento, who is Program Coordinator of the 21st Center Community Learning Center Program as well as a spokesperson for the newly launched project. "Having worked in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 10 years, I know firsthand how important it is that policymakers, educators and communities have access to research and information on how we can help children succeed in school and in life."
The Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project is a 50 state initiative dedicated to helping schools and communities leverage the time beyond school to accelerate student achievement by sharing research and promising practices. The Project is led by a coalition of funders including the C.S. Mott Foundation, Noyce Foundation, David & Lucile Packard Foundation and Open Society Foundations. Visit: www.expandinglearning.org
SOURCE The Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project