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

Overview of the Interventions

The two interventions being tested in this evaluation involve providing 45 minutes of formal academic instruction during after-school programs to students who need help meeting local academic standards. The model includes the use of research-based instructional material and teaching methods that were especially designed to work in a voluntary after-school setting. Two curriculum developers — Harcourt School Publishers and Success for All — were selected through a competitive process to adapt their school-day materials to develop a math model and a reading model, respectively. The developers were asked to create material that is engaging for students, challenging and tied to academic standards, appropriate for students from diverse economic and social backgrounds, and relatively easy for teachers to use with a small amount of preparation time.

  • Harcourt School Publishers adapted and expanded its existing school-day materials to develop Harcourt Mathletics, in which students’ progress through material at their own rate, with pretests at the beginning of each topic to guide lesson planning, “skill packs” for each topic to provide instruction on the skill in small groups and opportunities for individual practice in its ap-plication, and posttests to assess mastery or the need for supplemental in-struction. The model also includes games to build math fluency; hands-on ac-tivities; projects; and computer activities for guided instruction, practice, or enrichment.
  • Success for All Foundation (SFA) adapted its existing school-day reading programs to create Adventure Island, a structured reading model with daily lessons that involve switching quickly from one teacher-led activity to the next. It includes the key components of effective reading instruction identi-fied by the National Reading Panel and builds cooperative learning into its daily classroom routines, which also include reading a variety of selected books and frequent assessments built into lessons to monitor progress.

Sites hired certified teachers and operated the enhanced programs with the intended small groups of students, approximately 10 students per instructor. The implementation was supported by the following strategies related to staffing, training and technical assistance, and attendance that were managed and supported by Bloom Associates, Inc.:

  • Instructors received upfront training, multiple on-site technical assistance vis-its, continued support by locally based staff, and daily paid preparation time.
  • Efforts were made to support student attendance through close monitoring of attendance, follow-up with parents and students when absences occurred to encourage attendance and address issues preventing it, and incentives to en-courage and reward good attendance.