Aligning the Delivery of Multiple Funding Sources as a Pathway to Improving Academic Support After School: Another Case for Building and Retaining High-Quality Professional Staff
Author: Deborah L. Vandell, Jenel K. Lao
Presented at 2017 AERA
Abstract: Over the last two decades in the U.S., federally-funded afterschool programs have been looked to as important supports for improving student achievement. From 2008 to 2011, the University of California, Irvine conducted a three-year evaluation study of a project intended to serve as a national model for how best to leverage and coordinate the delivery of two federally-funded afterschool support programs designed to improve learning, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21stCCLC) afterschool programs and Supplemental Educational Services (SES)—a program that funds approved private agencies to deliver free academic tutoring to students from low-income and low-achieving schools. Known as the High-Quality Supplemental Educational Services (HQSES) and 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21stCCLC) Demonstration program, (University) partnered on the project with the grantee, (District), and (Provider), a non-profit organization that delivered the district’s 21st CCLC programs and an approved provider of SES. The purpose of the study was to identify best practices in (Provider’s), aligned delivery approach for how these two federally-authorized afterschool initiatives could be coordinated so that a greater number of students enrolled in, participated in, and completed academic afterschool services that improved their achievement in reading and math. The study used both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine each of the four designated HQSES/2stCCLC performance indicators:
(1) The number of students enrolled in SES,
(2) The number of students completing full programs of SES,
(3) The percentage of enrolled students who improved their academic performance in Language Arts or Math using ANOVAs to compare the Change Scores of each participant group to the Change Scores of a non-participating comparison group, and
(4) The number of positive, supportive relationships that students reported having with adults and peers. Whereas the paper will include results for all four indicators, the presentation will focus on academic outcomes.
Data included: student enrollment, attendance, and completion data; standardized test scores; parent and student surveys; observations of SES and 21stCCLC; observations of staff development; focus group interviews with tutors and parents; and interviews with Site Coordinators and program administrators. This study is significant because throughout this three-year study, (University) consistently found significant academic gains related to student attendance in both SES tutoring and 21stCCLC programs provided by (Non-Profit). In addition, the study also identifies key replicable and scalable strategies for leveraging multiple funding sources to improve student learning, including (1) an effective management structure as it relates to the programmatic and staffing logistics of delivering both SES and 21stCCLC; (2) effective recruitment and retention strategies; (3) effective strategies for identifying and meeting academic needs; and (4) effective strategies for promoting positive relationships with adults and peers. These findings support emerging evidence that regular participation in high-quality programs over time is not only associated with positive academic and social-emotional outcomes, but may also reduce academic achievement gaps (Reardon, 2011; Pierce, Auger, & Vandell, 2013). Successful implementation of these strategies, however, is linked closely to the skills and competencies of program staff. Strategies for systematically supporting the development of high-quality program staff will be proposed.