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					AFTER-SCHOOL BACKGROUNDER:
BENEFITS & BEST PRACTICES
For too many youth, out-of-school time is unsupervised, unstructured, and dangerous. More than
14 million children and youth in the United States have no adult supervision after school.
Accordingly, the hours from 3 to 6 p.m. are the peak time for youth to smoke, drink, use drugs, get
in car accidents, or commit or become victims of crime.i Youth who are unsupervised after school
are 37% more likely to become teen parents (US DOE 2002).


After-school programs can provide a safe and supervised place for youth to build skills, make
friends, and continue learning after the school day ends. Cities around the United States are also
discovering that the benefits of after-school programs extend far beyond safety and supervision.
This paper reviews the recent studies on the benefits of after-school programs, particularly for
middle school youth, and discusses recent literature on best practices for successful after-school
programs.

Challenges Facing Baltimore Youth


When students are not in school, they are often in homes or neighborhoods that lack the resources
to support their safe and healthy development. In Baltimore, youth confront multiple challenges:
      28% of Baltimore’s children live in poverty, 50% live in households where no adult has full-
       time employment, and 21% live in a household where the household head is a high school
       dropout;ii
      In 2007, the Baltimore City Police Department reports that there were 8,141 juvenile intakes,
       of which 1,192 were made by school police;
      In 2007, 19% (53 out of 282) of murder victims and 31% (42 out of 132) suspects in
       homicide cases in Baltimore were under the age of 20;iii and
      One in five young African American men in Baltimore are in prison, and more than half are
       under some form of criminal justice control.iv
With high poverty, violence, and drug use in many Baltimore neighborhoods, school is the safest
place for young people to be. Schools can provide nutritious meals, relevant knowledge and skills,
books and computers, exposure to adult role models, health and mental health services, and a range
of other supports to help young people learn and grow. Unfortunately, too many Baltimore youth
struggle to get to school every day, with 34% of middle schools students missing twenty or more
days of school during the 2006-2007 school year.v Frequent absences make young people more
likely to experience academic failure, to drop out of school, to begin using alcohol and drugs, and to
become caught up in the juvenile justice system. Given this high rate of absence, it should come as
no surprise that Baltimore also has the second highest drop-out rate in the nation.


With youth facing such challenging circumstances – and given what we know about the benefits of
regular school attendance – what can we do to keep young people in school?



Research Shows: After-School Benefits Middle School Youth


After-school programs work to engage students and meet their social, emotional, physical, and
intellectual needs. These programs provide a structured environment after the school day ends,
keeping youth safe and supervised. Given that the peak time for juvenile crime and juvenile
victimization occurs between 3 and 6 p.m., this alone is an important benefit of after-school
participation.vi However, the benefits of after school programs extend far beyond their hours of
operation. Research consistently shows that participation in after-school programs can boost
school attendance and graduation rates, improve academic performance, build self-esteem,
and prevent high-risk behaviors.              Moreover, students who participate in after-school
programs during middle school are more likely to get off to a strong start in high school.vii


Several review studies have documented the benefits of participation in after-school programs. For
instance, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) conducted a
study reviewing the personal and social benefits of after-school program participation (2007), and
found that youth who participated in after-school programs reported more self-confidence and self-
esteem, positive feelings towards school, positive behaviors, and improvements in school grades and
achievement test scores. Specifically, the CASEL study indicated that “compared to doing nothing
at all, having an effective after-school program would result in 27% more youth with better grades,
and 37% more with higher achievement test scores. There could be 35% more youth improving in
positives social behaviors, 30% demonstrating less problem behavior, 25% with less drug use, an



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additional 30% who feel more connected and bonded to their school, and 43% who feel better
about themselves and their abilities.”viii Another extensive survey (Lauer, et al, 2006) reviewed 56
studies of after-school programs for youth placed at risk, and found that participation in after school
programs had positive effects on both reading and math achievement.ix


Evaluations of after-school programs and after-school systems can yield specific information about
the benefits of participation. Here, we will look at two highly-effective after-school systems with
programming geared specifically toward middle school students: The After School Corporation in
New York City and Citizen Schools in Boston.


        The After School Corporation (New York, NY)
        The After School Corporation (TASC) sponsors after-school programs throughout New
        York City. TASC programs operate three hours per day, every day that school is in session.
        Programs for middle school students typically include a meal or snack, homework help and
        tutoring, and hands-on experiences in sports, science, the arts, and more.


        Evaluations of TASC programs have found that students benefited from participation both
        during the course of their participation and after they had graduated from the program:


             Middle grades TASC participants demonstrated improved achievement in
                 mathematics compared to matched nonparticipants.x
             Middle grades TASC participants showed improvements in school attendance,
                 compared to matched nonparticipants.xi
             Former middle grades TASC participants had an average 9th-grade attendance rate
                 of 91%, compared to matched nonparticipants’ average attendance rate of 87%.xii
             Former middle grades participants earned more high school credits in 9th grade than
                 did matched nonparticipants. xiii


        Evaluations indicated that TASC after-school programs helped students develop protective
        factors that reduced the risks of transition from middle to high school, and that former
        participants fared better in high school than nonparticipants.




     Baltimore’s After School Strategy   Safe and Sound Campaign   2 E. Read Street   Baltimore, MD 21202
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        Citizen Schools (Boston, MA)
        The Citizen Schools after-school system in Boston, Massachusetts is premised on the notion
        that students who are able to participate in a high-quality after-school program in 6th, 7th, and
        8th grade will be better prepared for success in high school and beyond. Citizen Schools’
        after-school programs meet at least four days each week and focus on academic enrichment,
        high school preparation, and career exposure.


        Evaluations of the Citizen Schools after-school system have found that former middle
        school participants experience significant benefits from the program, even after transitioning
        to high school.


                Former 8th-grade participants enroll in high-quality high schools at twice the rate
                 of matched nonparticipants. xiv
                Former 8th-grade participants continue to have higher school attendance rates than
                 matched nonparticipants, even in 10th and 11th grade. xv
                Former 8th-grade participants have higher rates of on-time promotion, higher grades
                 in 9th-grade English and 10th-grade math, and higher scores on Massachusetts’ 10th
                 grade standardized English exam.xvi


        As with TASC, evaluations of Citizen Schools after-school programs consistently found
        improvements in school engagement and achievement among former middle grades
        participants.



Research Shows: Best Practices for After-School Programs


The programs described above are helping youth succeed in school and out of school. But what
makes these programs so effective? An evaluation of the TASC after-school system (2004) analyzed
the common features of their most effective programs, and found that the following program
characteristics were associated with student gains in mathematics and reading/language arts:




     Baltimore’s After School Strategy   Safe and Sound Campaign   2 E. Read Street   Baltimore, MD 21202
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         High frequency and duration of activities focusing on academics and cognitive development;
         Employment of a project site coordinator who is licensed to teach;
         High frequency and duration of activities focusing on fitness, sports, and recreation;
         A requirement that after-school staff have to submit activity plans for advance review by the
          site coordinator; and
         A project staff in which at least one out of four staff members has a four-year college
          degree.xvii


A study of effective after-school programs nationwide, conducted by the RAND Corporation
(2005), found several factors associated with improved youth outcomes, including a clear mission,
high expectations and positive social norms, a safe and healthy environment, a supportive emotional
climate, a small total enrollment, stable and well-trained personnel, appropriate content relative to
students’ need and the program’s mission, integrated family and community partners, and frequent
program evaluation.xviii


From these and other evaluations have emerged a set of best practices for after-school programs.
Reviewing best practice research for after-school programs specifically geared toward middle school
youth, the Harvard Family Research Project (2008) found four common components of effective
programs: appropriate structure and supervision, opportunities for youths’ choice and voice, well-
prepared staff, and complementary learning linkages.xix


          Age-appropriate structure and supervision
          Participation in after-school programs can help students navigate the difficult transitions
          from elementary school into middle school and middle school into high school. It also
          provides youth with the tools they need to become effective and successful students,
          workers, and citizens. In order to work for middle school students, however, after-school
          programs must provide sustained access to high-quality learning opportunities that are
          geared toward their specific developmental needs. During early adolescence, young people
          become more independent and take on new responsibilities.                      It is a critical time for
          discovering new interests, since middle school youth may no longer be engaged by the
          activities they enjoyed as children and begin to seek adventure and risk. After-school




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        programs can provide these experiences for youth in a safe, supervised environment that
        minimizes the risks of new-found independence. Successful after-school programs balance
        exciting programming with structure and supervision.


        A menu of choices
        High-quality after-school programs offer a range of activities and allow middle school youth
        to make choices about how they will spend their time. These programs will also allow
        students to set goals for themselves and the program, developing their potential to take
        responsibility for their own learning.


        Supportive adult-youth relationships
        Middle school youths need supportive relationships with adults who serve as role models
        and mentors.        High quality programs for middle school youth focus on building
        relationships between youth and adult role models by recruiting, training, and retaining well-
        prepared staff. These programs offer mentoring and one-on-one time with staff. Strong,
        trusting relationships with staff encourage youth to stay in the program over time.


        Strong connections to family, school, & community
        Youth want to participate in after-school programs that provide choices and novel
        programming and activities, but they also need programming that is integrated with the
        other places they spend their time. Middle school youth benefit most from after-school
        programming that complements the goals of their school curriculum and other activities.
        After-school programs for middle school youth should be inherently different from the
        activities they engage in at school, at home, or in the community, but they must complement
        these other activities.


When after-school programs have these four components, middle school youth want to participate
regularly, which is good since youth reap the greatest benefits from after school programs when they
attend on a regular basis. Dosage refers to the level of exposure to a program or activity that a
student receives by attending. Although minimum dosage standards vary according to the age of
participants and the goals of the program, students who attend more frequently and over a greater




     Baltimore’s After School Strategy   Safe and Sound Campaign   2 E. Read Street   Baltimore, MD 21202
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period of time are most likely to experience the maximum benefits of participation in the after
school program.



A Proposal for Baltimore City


Many high-quality after-school programs already exist in Baltimore. The challenge is to provide the
resources to make such programs widely available. Building on the success of current programs,
the after-school system in Baltimore must expand so that every middle school provides
high-quality after-school opportunities to its students. Baltimore’s After School Strategy is
focused on expanding two already operational initiatives, BOOST and A-Teams.

Baltimore’s Out of School Time Initiative (BOOST) sites are after-school programs located in
Baltimore City public schools and run by non-profit organizations. These programs operate 4-5
days a week for three hours a day, and offer students academic learning opportunities, job and career
training, and skill development. BOOST was launched in Fall 2004 in 15 schools, and now operates
in 58 schools. BOOST will be expanded to operate at every middle school in Baltimore City.

Since some students have many responsibilities outside of school, not all students are able to
participate in a daily BOOST program. Those who cannot attend an after-school program every day
may have the option of participating in A-Teams. The A-Teams program enables youth to gain
knowledge and technical skills from working professionals in the arts, academics, and athletics. A-
Teams usually meet twice a week. This program has been proven to be effective: an evaluation of
the A-Teams model found that youth who participated reported multiple benefits ranging from
increased motivation and self-confidence to academic improvements.xx


In order to reach the goal of providing every Baltimore middle school student with access to high-
quality after-school programming like BOOST and A-Teams, Baltimore’s After School Strategy is
encouraging Baltimore City, Baltimore City Public School System, and private partners to:


        Expand and/or replicate successful programs so that every Baltimore middle school has
         an after school program;




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         Secure funding to sustain after-school programs over time; and


         Improve training, technical assistance, and other supports to ensure that all after-school
          programs offer quality learning and skill-development opportunities.


We know that after-school programs can have a huge positive impact on middle school youth – so
what are we waiting for? All young people in Baltimore deserve opportunities to learn and build
skills in a safe and fun environment, so that they grow into adolescence and adulthood with the skills
they need to succeed.




References

Bodilly, S. J., & Beckett, M.K. (2005). Making out-of-school time matter: Evidence for an action
agenda. Santa Monica, CA: The RAND Corporation.

Durlak, J.A. & Weissberg, R.P. (2007). The impact of after-school programs that promote personal and social
skills. Chicago, IL: Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.

Fabiano, L., Pearson, L.M., Reisner, E.M., & Williams, I.J. (2006). Preparing students in the middle grades
to succeed in high school: Findings from phase IV of the Citizen Schools evaluation. Washington, D.C.: Policy
Studies Associates, Inc.

Lauer, P.A., Akiba, M., Wilkerson S.B., Apthorp, H.S., Snow, D., & Martin-Glenn, M.L. (2006).
Out-of-school time programs: a meta-analysis of effects for at-risk students. Review of Educational
Research, 76, 275-313.

Little, P.M.D., Wimer, C, & Weiss, H.B. (2007) After school programs in the 21st century: Their potential and
what it takes to achieve it. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project.

Newman, S.A., Fox, J.A., Flynn, E.A., & Christeson, W. (2000) America’s afterschool choice: The prime
time for juvenile crime or youth achievement and enrichment. Washington, D.C.: Invest in Kids.

Pearson, L.M., Vile, J.D., & Reisner, E.R. (2008). Establishing a foundation for progress toward high school
graduation: Findings from phase V of the Citizens Schools evaluation. Washington, D.C.: Policy Studies
Associates, Inc.




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Pechman, E.M. (2003). Evaluation of A-Teams after school program: Arts, academics, and athletics
(Baltimore). Retrieved 26 February 2008 http://www.policystudies.com/studies/youth/A-
Teams%20final.html. Washington, D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.

Peterson, T.K. & Fix, S. eds. (2007). Afterschool advantage: Powerful new learning opportunities.
Moorestown, NJ: Foundations, Inc.

Raley, R., Grossman, J., & Walker, K. E. (2006). Getting it right: Strategies for after-school success.
Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures.

Reisner, E.R., White, R.N., Russell, C.A., & Birmingham, J.E. (2004). Building quality, scale, and
effectiveness in after-school programs: Summary report of the TASC evaluation. Washington, D.C.: Policy
Studies Associates, Inc.

Russell, C.A., Mielke, M.B., Miller, T.D., & Johnson, J.C. (2007) After-school programs and high school
success: Analysis of post-program educational patterns of former middle-grades TASC participants. Washington,
D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.

Westmoreland, H., & Little, P. (2008). “Promising practices for quality after-school programs for
middle school youth.” Middle Matters 16: 3. Retrieved 1 March 2008 from
http://www.naesp.org/ContentLoad.do?contentId=2429&action=print. National Association of
Elementary School Principals.

Endnotes
i  Newman, S.A., Fox, J.A., Flynn, E.A., & Christeson, W. (2000). America’s after school choice: The prime time for juvenile crime,
or youth enrichment and achievement. Washington, D.C.: Fight Crime, Invest in Kids.
ii Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2007). KidsCount Data Center. Retrieved 4 March 2008 from

http://www.kidscount.org/datacenter/profile_results.jsp?r=284&d=1&c=a&p=5&x=150&y=13.
iii “Murder index: A breakdown of Baltimore City’s 2007 homicide statistics.” Baltimore City Paper. 23 January 2008.

Retrieved 4 March 2008 from http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=15147.
iv Lotke, E., & Ziedenberg, J. (2005) Tipping point: Maryland’s overuse of incarceration and the impact on public safety.

Washington, D.C.: Justice Policy Institute.
v 2007 Maryland Report Card. Retrieved 20 February 2008 from

http://www.mdreportcard.org/Demographics.aspx?K=30AAAA&WDATA=Local+School+System.
vi Newman, S.A., Fox, J.A., Flynn, E.A., & Christeson, W. (2000) America’s afterschool choice: The prime time for juvenile crime or

youth achievement and enrichment. Washington, D.C.: Invest in Kids.
vii Russell, C.A., Mielke, M.B., Miller, T.D., & Johnson, J.C. (2007) After-school programs and high school success: Analysis of

post-program educational patterns of former middle-grades TASC participants. Washington, D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
viii Durlak, J.A., & Weissberg, R.P. (2007). The impact of after-school programs that promote personal and social skills. Chicago, IL:

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.
ix Lauer, P.A., Akiba, M., Wilkerson S.B., Apthorp, H.S., Snow, D., & Martin-Glenn, M.L. (2006). Out-of-school time

programs: a meta-analysis of effects for at-risk students. Review of Educational Research, 76, 275-313.
x Reisner, E.R., White, R.N., Russell, C.A., & Birmingham, J.E. (2004). Building quality, scale, and effectiveness in after-school

programs: Summary report of the TASC evaluation. Washington, D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
xi Reisner, E.R., White, R.N., Russell, C.A., & Birmingham, J.E. (2004). Building quality, scale, and effectiveness in after-school

programs: Summary report of the TASC evaluation. Washington, D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
xii Russell, C.A., Mielke, M.B., Miller, T.D., & Johnson, J.C. (2007) After-school programs and high school success: Analysis of

post-program educational patterns of former middle-grades TASC participants. Washington, D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
xiii Russell, C.A., Mielke, M.B., Miller, T.D., & Johnson, J.C. (2007) After-school programs and high school success: Analysis of

post-program educational patterns of former middle-grades TASC participants. Washington, D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.




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xiv  Fabiano, L., Pearson, L.M., Reisner, E.M., & Williams, I.J. (2006). Preparing students in the middle grades to succeed in high
school: Findings from phase IV of the Citizen Schools evaluation. Washington, D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
xv Pearson, L.M., Vile, J.D., & Reisner, E.M. (2008). Establishing a foundation for progress towards high school graduation: Findings

from phase V of the Citizen Schools evaluation. Washington, D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
xvi Pearson, L.M., Vile, J.D., & Reisner, E.M. (2008). Establishing a foundation for progress towards high school graduation:

Findings from phase V of the Citizen Schools evaluation. Washington, D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
xvii Reisner, E.R., White, R.N., Russell, C.A., & Birmingham, J.E. (2004). Building quality, scale, and effectiveness in after-school

programs: Summary report of the TASC evaluation. Washington, D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.
xviii Bodilly, S. J., & Beckett, M.K. (2005). Making out-of-school time matter: Evidence for an action agenda. Santa

Monica, CA: The RAND Corporation.
xix Westmoreland, H., & Little, P. (2008). “Promising practices for quality after-school programs for middle school

youth.” Middle Matters 16: 3. Retrieved 1 March 2008 from
http://www.naesp.org/ContentLoad.do?contentId=2429&action=print. National Association of Elementary School
Principals.
xx Pechman, E.M. (2003). Evaluation of A-Teams after school program: Arts, academics, and athletics (Baltimore).

Retrieved 26 February 2008 from http://www.policystudies.com/studies/youth/A-Teams%20final.html. Washington,
D.C.: Policy Studies Associates, Inc.




       Baltimore’s After School Strategy       Safe and Sound Campaign          2 E. Read Street     Baltimore, MD 21202
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