1 Expanded Learning Opportunities in Washington State Pathways to Student Success Prepared by Priscilla M. Little Research & Evaluation Consultant October 18, 2011
3 Expanded Learning Opportunities in Washington State Educators and policymakers are rethinking when, where, and how children learn, to include a diverse range of learning settings such as afterschool and summer programs and workplace and virtual learning spaces, all of which can work in intentional alignment with schools to support student success. Collectively, these approaches are referred to as expanded learning opportunities (ELOs). At their core, ELOs share some common interrelated features: They recognize that students learn in and out of school classrooms; They rethink the use of time across the school day and year to support learning; They recognize that no single learning setting will prepare students for success; rather, an integrated approach to learning across the day, across the year, and across a student s lifetime is required for mastery of a broad set of skills. The growing recognition that traditional school models alone cannot offer sufficient resources for students to acquire all of the skills and knowledge they need to become successful adults has resulted in tremendous growth of ELO programs and initiatives aimed specifically at intentional partnerships and alignment between afterschool and summer programs and schools in order to Pathways to Student Success support and reinforce but not replicate inschool learning and development. In 2011, as schools and districts across Washington State seek new education solutions that better support the needs of students, schools, and families the time is ripe to consider what we know about ELOs as a core education reform strategy. There now exists a substantial evidence base about the academic, social, health, and other benefits associated with participation in afterschool, summer, and other expanded learning opportunities and this evidence presents a strong case that such non school supports are important pathways to learning, particularly when they work in intentional alignment with schools to support student success. Too often, however, these supports continue to be seen as add ons, not integral to in school education efforts. This ELO policy brief describes the potential benefits of participation in a range of wellimplemented ELO programs and initiatives, including afterschool and summer programming for students of all ages, and underscores the benefits of strong partnerships for learning between schools and out of school learning supports. It concludes with a set of key policy factors to consider when designing and implementing expanded learning opportunities. Expanded Learning Opportunities in Washington State Across the state of Washington a variety of approaches to expanding learning are being designed, implemented, and tested. Afterschool programs: school and community based programs that operate in the morning, afternoon, or on weekends; programs partner with schools and provide children and youth supervised and safe activities designed to promote learning, and in some cases provide remedial instruction and explicit academic support. Summer learning programs: school and community based programs and enrichment activities designed to supplement academic learning and promote enrichment opportunities during the nonschool summer months. Extended day and year schools: school based models that expand the traditional school day and calendar in order to balance the core curriculum with enrichment opportunities, often engaging community partners to do so. Community schools: comprehensive public schools that provide a range of services and supports for children, youth, and families across the day and throughout the year.
4 ELOs Can Support Student Success For children and youth to stay in school and successfully chart a course through graduation requires at least three conditions that research indicates expanded learning opportunities, particularly those offered after school and in the summer, can support. First, children and youth need to come to school healthy and ready to learn. Second, they need to be engaged in their learning environments. Third, with these conditions in What is Student Success? 21st century society necessitates a broadened definition of student success, one that goes beyond the 3 Rs and includes the development of skills such as effective communications skills; the ability to develop and sustain interpersonal relationships at school, at work, and at home; the ability to solve complex problems; and the development of a strong sense of self. place, they need to demonstrate consistent progress and performance in a range of academic subjects. Indeed, over ten years of research and evaluation studies conducted on a range of approaches to programming at the national, state, and local levels indicates that afterschool and other expanded learning opportunities, in conjunction with schools can work together to support these conditions for learning. Afterschool and summer programs are particularly well positioned to provide a wide variety of activities that promote physical and mental health.¹ These health-related afterschool activities are especially important at a time when schools are cutting back their physical education and sports programs and have few additional resources to provide counseling or other mental health services. Youth who are in good health (physically and mentally) are better prepared to come to school ready to learn, and thus are better positioned for academic success than their less healthy peers.² ELOs targeting children s health aim to promote physical activity and nutrition and to prevent obesity. Programs also often focus on preventing other unhealthy behaviors, including drug use, teen pregnancy, or violence. These health-focused programs can result in a number of positive health-related outcomes for youth participants. In particular, outcomes related to healthy behaviors, healthy attitudes and perceptions, health knowledge, and actual improvements in physical health. ³ Boys and Girls Club of America Triple Play Program is a national afterschool program that includes three major components for 6-18 year-olds: a "Healthy Habits" curriculum; sports, fitness, and recreation programs and sports leadership clubs; and social recreation to teach and reinforce social and ethical skills. Its evaluation, which included Clubs in Washington State, found that participants showed better outcomes than the control group related to nutrition knowledge, healthy food intake, and time spent engaging in physical activities and exercise.⁴ America SCORES Seattle provides elementary school students from under-served communities with a five-day-a-week afterschool program combining literacy and athletics. A recent national evaluation of America SCORES indicates that it was successful in significantly lowering of Body Mass Index (BMI), a key indicator both of the risk of obesity and chronic disease later in life as well as in supporting increased levels of physical fitness as demonstrated through pre and post-program running tests.⁵
5 In addition to coming to school healthy and ready to learn, students need to be actively involved and participating in the learning process to achieve school success. Active involvement and participation means that students need to have good school attendance; good study habits, including completing homework assignments on time; and positive attitudes toward school all factors that research indicates afterschool participation can have an impact on.⁶ Further, there is growing recognition that afterschool is important not just for elementary students, who need supervision when they are not in school, but also for middle and high school youth, whose participation in afterschool programs can keep them connected to positive role models and engaged in learning at a time when many are beginning to disengage from schools. The Beacon Community Centers Middle School Initiative supported middle-grade youth in 80 school-based community centers in New York by providing programming in academic enhancement, life skills, career awareness, civic engagement, recreation, and arts. In the initiative s second year, 80 percent of participants reported that they completed their homework more often due to their Beacon participation.⁷ The Community Schools Collaboration (CSC) implements a full service community schools model in 16 schools in the Tukwila and Highline School Districts in south King County. A evaluation of CSC reports that participation fosters school engagement and motivation, with teachers reporting that 72% of students showed improvements in class participation and almost two-thirds of the students were more attentive in class and came to school ready to learn. Equally important, students indicate that CSC increased school motivation in three ways: by increasing excitement to participate in CSC afterschool options, by fostering confidence in the classroom, and by providing options that help students avoid disciplinary problems.⁸ Somali Community Services of Seattle's Child Development Program (CDP) was an afterschool and weekend tutoring and support program serving Somali children and their parents in Seattle, Washington. Children at the program reported that the homework help at CDP allowed them to complete their homework, and that otherwise they would not always have gotten it done. Some of these students previously felt unable to complete their homework without help, and often relied on schoolteachers (who had limited time and availability) to help complete assignments.⁹ WA State 21 st CCLC Results* WA State 21 st CCLC programs show promise in supporting student behaviors that promote involvement and participation in learning: Teacher-reported improvements in homework completion and class participation of regular attendees was 73% Teacher-reported improvements in student behavior of regular attendees was 67% *As reported in the 21st CCLC Profile and Performance Information Collection System
6 Quality afterschool programs have the potential to positively impact student academic achievement and success, supporting steady progress in school on a path toward on-time graduation, even when programs are not intentionally trying to influence academics.;: Relative to participation in other afterschool arrangements (such as self care or sibling care), participation can result in less disciplinary action; lower dropout rates; better academic performance in school, including better grades and test scores; and greater on time promotion. Project Open Door which has received 21 st CCLC support since 1998, is a single site afterschool program at the Henkle Middle School in the isolated, rural town of White Salmon, Washington. At least 40 percent of the students who did not pass math and/or reading on state tests are targeted for afterschool tutoring and enrichment services with a total of 154 students attending in Evaluation results indicate that the afterschool program has been effective in improving reading test scores, with 67 percent of 8th grade; 82 percent of 7th grade; and 69 percent of 6th grade regular attendees demonstrating growth in reading on the state assessment. Further, of all the 6th graders at Henkle who improved in all subjects on the state assessment in , 80 percent were Project Open Door (POD) attendees.¹¹ Rainier Scholars is a multi-component, multi-year academic intervention for low income children of color in Seattle, WA. It provides mentoring, tutoring, and counseling from the end of 5th grade all the way through college. 100% of its first year cohort of students was accepted to 4-year colleges; over 95% of its scholars achieve placement in public school advanced learning programs or independent school college prep settings.¹² The evidence for summer learning underscores the importance of access to expanded learning opportunities. When students actively participate in summer programs, particularly when they are encouraged by their families to participate, they stand to improve their reading and math levels going into the next grade, as well as their standardized test scores. In addition, academically focused summer programs help students successfully transition into the next grade level, a benefit attributable to smaller class size, individualized learning, and personal attention from teachers, all of which might not be available to students during the academic year. The Feed Your Brain Project provides grants and training to schools, community based organizations and/or tribes running summer programs in rural areas of Washington State, with the overarching goal of increasing the number of children who participate in academic and enrichment activities and receive at least two nutritious meals through the federally subsidized Summer Feeding Service Program. Analysis of the San Diego Quick Assessment data indicates that the Feed Your Brain project is effective in improving or maintaining the reading skill levels of children leading to prevention of summer learning loss, with approximately 94% of the participants that took both the pre- and post- San Diego Quick Assessment either maintaining or improving their reading skills levels over the course of the summer program.¹³
7 A key message from many of these studies is that programs support student success when they afford children and youth opportunities to learn and practice new skills through hands on, experiential learning in project based afterschool programs that complement, but do not replicate, in school learning. Extra time for academics alone may be necessary but may not be sufficient to improve academic outcomes. Balancing academic support with a variety of engaging, fun, and structured extracurricular or co curricular activities that promote youth development in a variety of real world contexts appears to support and improve academic performance. A second message from these studies is that all of the programs and initiatives listed above place a premium on partnerships among schools and community partners and resources. Expanded Learning Partnerships Benefit Students, Families, Schools, and Community Partners In addition to better supporting student success as described above, ELO partnerships can serve to strengthen, support, and even transform individual partners, resulting in improved program quality, more efficient use of resources, and better alignment of goals and curricula among partners. Effective partnerships are those in which each partner experiences the value added of working with the other entity.;⁴ Beyond the academic support described above, strong learning partnerships benefit students and families in important ways: Provide continuity of services across the day and year, easing school transitions. Facilitate access to a range of learning opportunities and developmental supports that may no longer be available during the school day due to budget shortfalls. Level the playing field for many students who otherwise would not be able to participate in learning beyond the school day due to lack of access or financial resources. Facilitate information sharing about specific students to best support individual learning. Provide family members with alternative entry points into the school day to support their student s learning. Community Partners are Critical to Expanding the School Day Citizen Schools is a lead partner providing expanded learning time (ELT) services to three schools in the Massachusetts ELT to Support Student Success Initiative. A review of the program s roles and contributions to the three partner schools indicates that Citizen School s trained staff extended the work of classroom teachers delivering academic instruction, particularly through the provision of opportunities for students to apply emerging academic skills in varied contexts. Citizen Schools also contributed to the mobilization of external resources that could bridge the gaps separating schools, families, and the community. Woods, Y.M., and Reisner, E.R. (2009). Citizen Schools Contribution to Improved Learning in Expanded Learning Time Schools Research Brief. Washington, DC: Policy Studies Associates.
8 Learning partnerships can help schools: Provide a wider range of services and activities, particularly enrichment and arts activities, which are not available during the school day. Support transitions across the school years, particularly from middle to high school. Reinforce concepts taught in school. Improve school culture and community image through exhibitions and performances. Gain access to mentors, afterschool staff, and other resources to support in school learning. Learning partnerships with schools can strengthen and support community partners: Gain access to and recruiting groups of students most in need of support services. Improve program quality and staff engagement. Foster better alignment of programming to support a shared vision for learning. Maximize resource use such as facilities, staff, data, and curriculum. The Promise of ELOs for Education Reform The research warrant for ELOs is clear: Children and youth who participate in well implemented programs and activities beyond the typical 6 hour school day are poised to stay enrolled longer and perform better in school than their peers who do not have access to, or participate in, learning experiences beyond the school day. Further, emerging research indicates that when schools and community based organizations partner to support student success, all parties stand to benefit. The time is ripe to move afterschool and summer learning programs into the mainstream of education reform efforts, implementing and testing a variety of ELO models aimed at forging new and sustainable partnerships with schools in support of learning. However, doing so requires states to embrace a range of ELO approaches that are designed to best meet the needs of students, families, and communities approaches can and should vary depending on community needs. This brief concludes with some key factors to consider when adopting an ELO approach that is right for a specific community or district. Partnerships are essential to successful ELOs, regardless of approach. What policies can be created to support and incentivize school community family partnerships? What infrastructure is required to maintain and nurture local, district, and state partnerships? How can states, districts, and communities identify ELO partners? Effective ELO partnerships share a common vision and accountability for learning outcomes. How can partners work together to ensure a common vision for student, family, and school success? How can an accountability structure be developed that considers the contributions of all ELO partners?
9 How can partners establish common measures and outcomes? How can information systems be developed to improve and promote data sharing and learning among partners? Quality afterschool and summer environments foster inquiry, critical thinking, and engagement in learning, and these features can support a range of positive academic and developmental outcomes. As such, they are uniquely poised to support in-school learning and development without replicating the school day. How can the research based practices known to be effective in afterschool and summer learning programs be adopted more broadly within and across ELO models and approaches? Are there elements of quality environments that all ELO partners should implement regardless of when and where the learning occurs? How can ELO partners work together to ensure equitable access to quality out of school learning experiences? Participation in ELO is in part predicated on the choices families and young people make about how to use their time. How can choice be built into ELO options to ensure that programs are responsive to the needs of working families and youth participants alike? Will participation be voluntary or mandatory? How can ELOs ensure that older youth have the opportunity for choice, which research indicates is requisite to sustained participation and engagement? With scarce resources, many providers are competing to develop ELO partnerships with schools as a sustainability strategy. How do schools choose the right community partners? How many and what kinds of partners are necessary to provide a full range of full-day, year-round learning supports? How can community partners work to effectively turn competition into meaningful collaboration?
10 Acknowledgements This brief was written by Priscilla M. Little, Research and Evaluation Consultant, for the 2011 Schools Out Washington Bridge Conference. Prior versions of this brief were prepared for Connecting Communities Policy Symposium on Afterschool & Extended Learning Opportunities, a policy forum co hosted by The Massachusetts Afterschool Partnership and Boston After School & Beyond in October 2009; and, for New Jersey After 3 s Expanded Learning Summit in September ¹Little, P., Wimer, C., & Weiss, H. B. (2008). After school programs in the 21st century: Their potential and what it takes to achieve it. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project. ²See, for example: Grossman, J. & Vang, Z. (2009). The case for school-based integration of services: Changing the ways students, families, and communities engage with their schools. Philadelphia, PA: Public/Private Ventures. Online at: Haas, S. A. & N. E. Fosse. (2008). Health and the educational attainment of adolescents: evidence from the NLSY97. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 49(2):178 92; and Basch, C. E. (2010). Healthier students are better learners: A missing link in school reforms to close the achievement gap. Equity Matters: Research Review No. 6. New York: The Campaign for Educational Equity. Online at: document/12558_equitymattersvol6_webfinal.pdf. ³Little, et al. (2008). ⁴Gambone, M. A., Akey, T. M., Furano, K., & Osterman, L (2009). Promoting healthy lifestyles: The impact of Boys & Girls Clubs of America s Triple Play Program on healthy eating, exercise patterns, and developmental outcomes (Executive Summary). Philadelphia: Youth Development Strategies, Inc. Online at: FINAL.pdf; ⁵Results obtained from 9/16/11. ⁶Little et al, ⁷Russell, C. A., LaFleur, J., Scott, T. A., Low, M., Palmiter, A. S., & Reisner, E. R. (2010). The Beacon Community Centers Middle School Initiative: Report on implementation and youth experience in the initiative s second year. Washington, DC: Policy Studies Associates. Online at: SchoolLearning/Documents/2nd-year-evaluation-of-the-Beacon-middle-school-initiative.pdf; ⁸Murray, M. and Ganet, J. (2010). Community schools collaboration evaluation report. Seattle, WA: MEMConsultants. ⁹Casey, B., Sullivan, M., & Roble, M. A. (2000). Evaluation report: Somali Community Services of Seattle Child Development Project. Seattle, WA: Seattle Partners for Healthy Communities. ;:Little et al, ¹¹Results obtained from 21st Century Community Learning Center Program Office at the State of Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. ¹²Results obtained from 9/16/11. ¹³Results obtained from 10/2/11. ;⁴Harvard Family Research Project. (2010). Partnerships for learning. Cambridge, MA: Author.
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