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The Evaluation of Enhanced Academic Instruction in After-School Programs
NCEE 2009-4077
September 2009


This project found that it is possible to implement structured instruction in math and reading for second-through fifth-graders in an after-school setting. The provision of four days of training, ongoing on-site technical assistance, and local program coordinators supported implementation. In both years, math instructors reported few problems implementing Mathlet-ics; teachers implementing the Adventure Island reading program found it challenging to maintain the intended pace of instruction in both years of the study.

It also proved possible to recruit certified teachers who will commit to participate for the full school year. Despite staff turnover across the two years of service offerings, there was growing experience in implementing the programs in the centers. Students also could be recruited each year and retained within each year in the program. The enhanced programs included a combination of extra monitoring of attendance and incentives and encouragement to attend, and students attended the enhanced program as much or more than regular after-school activities, despite initial concerns the program would not be appealing to students or their parents. However, as with most after-school programs (Dynarski and others, 2003; Dynarski and others, 2004), there was substantial dropoff in enrollment across school years (i.e., 42 and 43 percent of students who participated in the enhanced math and reading programs, respec-tively, in the first year did not attend the enhanced program for a second year).

The enhanced program produced a 26 to 30 percent increase in hours of academic in-struction for math and 22 to 23 percent increase for reading, over the school year. For math, this produced one-month worth of extra learning, as measured by math standardized tests. Further, for math, the findings suggest that the benefits of the after-school academic instruction are captured in studentsí first year of participation, as a second year of math instruction did not produce any additional benefits for students. However, for reading there were no positive effects on achievement after one year of the program, and findings after two years indicated the enhanced reading program led to slower progress in reading than did the regular after-school programming. In conclusion, these findings are consistent with a growing body of research that finds some evidence of improving achievement through after-school activities (Vandell, Reisner, and Pierce, 2007; Zief, Lauver, and Maynard, 2006).