There are so many factors that influence the education of youth in the country. To isolate any one of those variables is virtually impossible, but to control for identified variables so you can get a “read” on the significance of a single factor, is possible but will require true collaboration and data sharing across enterprises. To date, the value-add of after-school has been demonstrated through only a few studies. One of them, The Long-Term Effects of After-School Programming on Educational Adjustment and Juvenile Crime: A Study of the LA’s BEST After-School Program, certainly doesn’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that after-school programs make significant positive effects, however it is one of the first longitudinal studies, and results do indicate that LA’S BEST students are more likely to graduate from high school than non participants. Kudos to LA’s BEST for participating in this study and clearing the way for additional research around the value-add of after-school.
Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, Chair of the Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine, has also done research around the effectiveness of after-school programs. On her faculty profile, Dr. Vandell states, “I have longstanding interests in three areas: …after school programs and activities - their impact on children and youth and strategies for improving the quality of after-school programs…” is one of them. In a recent conversation, A Discussion on After School Programs, Vandell answered the following three questions:
1. Why are after-school programs valuable?
2. What do schools of education need to know about after-school programs?
3. What's the value of summer programs
You can find the full answers at http://www.edutopia.org/deborah-lowe-vandell#graph2 .
At a California After School Network function, Vandell spoke about the Positive effects of after-school programs on academic and social benefits from a study completed over a two year period. You can tune into Dr. Vandell’s discussion at http://www.afterschoolnetwork.org/node/7758 .
These and other research efforts are taking a look at after-school programs and the impact they are having on youth. As an after-school provider, it is imperative that you become familiar with the current research and learn from it to strengthen your program.