New York City students who participated in after-school programs sponsored by the After-School Corp. for three years had higher academic gains and improved their school attendance at a faster rate than similar students who didn’t take part in the programs, says a study.
Conducted by Policy Studies Associates, a Washington-based research company, the study found that students in those programs increased their standardized-test scores in mathematics an average of 6 points more than students who were not in the programs.
The largest and most immediate increases came for students considered most at risk of academic failure. For example, African-American students were able to raise their math scores after one year in the programs. Among Hispanic students and those from low-income families, gains in the subject were seen after two years.
In reading and language arts, however, participants and nonparticipants alike performed about the same.
Researchers also found that while school attendance decreased for nonparticipants from grades 5 and 8, attendance improved after one year for those in the after-school programs.
The new research by Policy Studies Associates is part of an ongoing study of 30,000 students at more than 90 After-School Corp. programs. Formed in 1998 by the Open Society Institute, a private foundation in New York City, the After- School Corp. is a nonprofit organization that brings private and public sector funding together to provide after-school programs. About 45,000 K-12 students at 264 schools are being served.
The report also provides a view of the effectiveness of after-school programs that contrasts with the recent portrayal by a study of the federal government’s $1 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.
That earlier study, by Mathematica Policy Research Inc., of Princeton, N.J., concluded that the program, established during the Clinton administration, has had few positive effects on students’ academic performance or behavior. President Bush cited those findings in recommending a budget cut for the 21st Century program.
Judy Y. Samelson, the executive director of the Afterschool Alliance, a Washington- based umbrella organization, praised the new study, saying it answers questions that the Mathematica study lacked the data to address.
— Linda Jacobson email@example.com