Study of Promising After-School Programs

Investigators: Deborah Lowe Vandell, Kim Pierce (with Elizabeth Reisner, Policy Studies Associates, Inc.)

Funding: C. S. Mott Foundation

In the Study of Promising After-School Programs, we studied 35 high-quality after-school programs (19 elementary, 16 middle) that served low-income children and youth. The programs were located in 14 cities in 8 states. A total of 2,914 students (1,796 elementary, 1,118 middle school), some of whom attended the programs and some who did not, participated in the study.

Our findings indicate that both elementary and middle school students enrolled in the after-school programs and other structured activities, compared to students who were largely unsupervised in the after-school hours, experienced relative gains in their math achievement test scores, work habits at school, and compliance at home, and relative reductions in misconduct. Elementary program participants also experienced relative gains in grades, task persistence, social skills, and prosocial behavior, and reductions in aggressive behavior, compared to their classmates who were unsupervised after school. And, middle school program participants reported relative reductions in their use of substances (alcohol, tobacco, drugs) compared to their unsupervised classmates.

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