During the second year of the study's data collection, program administrators indicated that their major objectives for programs serving middle school students were to help students improve academically and to provide a safe place for them after school. About 80 percent of centers offered homework sessions and 60 percent offered other types of academic assistance, such as additional help in language arts or mathematics. The emphasis on academics increased from the first to second year, according to site visitors, principals, center coordinators, and project directors. While our site visit data cannot confirm this shift, there clearly was a perception that centers were focusing more on academic activities.
Programs experienced considerable staff turnover during the 2 years of the study. Two-thirds of the staff did not return in the second year; almost one-third of the schools where centers were located had a new principal, and one-third had a new center coordinator. Only about 20 percent of programs had a new project director. Staff most commonly cited the demands on time that after-school work posed rather than pay as the reason for not returning.
Program attendance was much lower in the second year, averaging just 8.8 days. This was in large part because many students—59 percent of the program group—transferred to high schools or other middle schools that had no 21st Century programs. Among the 41 percent of the program group who had access to the program in the second year, 47 percent attended at least 1 day; for the year, their attendance averaged 30 days. This is similar to the average number of days attended in the first year (33 days). Ten percent of participating students attended more than 75 days and 59 percent of participating students attended fewer than 26 days (Figure 3). Week-to-week attendance patterns also were similar to first-year patterns.
Supervision After School. The program group was less likely to be with siblings than the comparison group. There were no differences in self-care, with roughly 19 percent of participants and nonparticipants indicating that they were not with an adult or older sibling three or more days a week after school.
Academic Achievement. There were few differences between the program and comparison groups on academic outcomes (Figure 4). The program group had higher grades in social studies. Other outcomes—including grades in mathematics, science, and English, as well as teacher reports of achievement—did not differ. The level of homework completion also did not differ.
Safety After School. There were no differences between the program group and comparison group in feelings of safety after school.
Developmental Outcomes. The program group was more likely than the comparison group—82 percent versus 79 percent—to expect to graduate from college. No differences were observed in other developmental areas.
Negative Behaviors. Findings on one of several drug-use questions indicated that the program group had a higher incidence of drug use (use for both groups was low). There were no differences on the other measures of drug use. There were mixed findings on other measures of behavior. Treatment students were more likely than comparison students to report breaking things on purpose and had higher values on an index of negative behaviors, but there were no differences on other outcomes such as punching someone, stealing, selling drugs, or getting arrested.
Parent Outcomes. No differences were found in parent involvement.
Subgroup Impacts. The study examined six subgroups: (1) grade level, (2) whether students had low or high reading test scores at baseline, (3) whether students had low or high discipline problems at baseline, (4) student race and ethnicity, (5) student gender, and (6) whether students lived in two-parent or one-parent households. None showed distinct patterns of difference, with one exception: students with low grades (at baseline) had more positive impacts than did students with high grades. Reasons for the difference were not clear.Comparison of Findings of the First and Second Reports
The comparison below is presented separately for elementary and middle school students because the basis for differences in findings differs for the two groups. For elementary school students, differences in findings between the first and second reports are due to the addition of new sites to the study; for middle school students, differences in findings relate to an additional follow-up year.
Supervision and Location After School. Both reports found that elementary school students attending programs were less likely to be supervised by parents and siblings and more likely to be supervised by other adults. They also were more likely to be at school and less likely to be at home during after-school hours.
Academic Achievement. Both reports found that programs generally did not improve academic outcomes such as grades or test scores. In the first report, elementary school students had higher grades in social studies but not in English, mathematics, or science. In the second report, grades were not higher in any of the four subjects. Both reports found no difference in reading test scores. Both reports found homework completion was lower; the second report's finding was statistically significant.
Safety After School. Both reports found that students reported feeling safer after school; only the second report's finding (based on a larger sample size) was statistically significant.
Social, Emotional, and Developmental Outcomes. Both reports found that students were more likely to help other students after school. There were no differences in other outcomes, such as the extent to which students reported getting along with others or setting goals and working toward them.
Negative Behaviors. Students were equally likely to be disciplined for bad behavior, be suspended, or receive detention.
Parent Outcomes. Both reports found that parents were more likely to attend after-school events, to help their children with homework, and to ask their children about class.
Subgroup Outcomes. Neither report found noteworthy patterns of subgroup outcomes. In the second report, students from two-parent households had larger impacts on some outcomes than students from single-parent households, but these differences were no longer significant after controlling for students' membership in other subgroups. This subgroup was not examined in the first report.
Supervision and Location After School. The first report found that program students were more likely than comparison-group students to be supervised by other adults and less likely to be supervised by parents or siblings. Students also were more likely to be at school and less likely to be at home during the after-school hours. In the second report, the only significant findings were a reduction in being supervised by siblings and an increase in being at school during the after-school hours.
Academic Achievement. Both reports found few differences in academic outcomes. In the first report, students had higher grades in math but not in English, science, or social studies. In the second report, students had higher grades in social studies but not in English, math, or science. Both reports found no differences in homework completion. School absences were lower for treatment students relative to comparison students in both reports.
Safety After School. Both reports found no differences in feelings of safety after school.
Social, Emotional, and Developmental Outcomes. Both reports found an increase in students who expected to go to college.
Negative Behaviors. Both reports found mixed evidence on negative behaviors. Some estimates indicated that program students were more likely to engage in negative behaviors and others showed no difference.
Parent Outcomes. The first report indicated that parents were more likely to attend open houses, parent/teacher organization meetings, and after-school events, and more likely to volunteer at school. The second report found no differences in parent involvement.
Subgroup Outcomes. The first report found some increases in academic outcomes for black and Hispanic middle school students. The second report did not find such increases.