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Title:  When Schools Stay Open Late: The National Evaluation of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program New Findings
Description: After-school programs have grown rapidly in recent years, spurred by rising employment rates of mothers, pressure to increase academic achievement, and concerns about risks to children who are unsupervised during after-school hours. The percentage of public schools offering "extended day" programs (which include before- and after-school programs) more than tripled from 1987 to 1999, from about 13 percent to 47 percent.

The federal government's investment in after-school programs has grown rapidly as well. Funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, created in 1994, rose from $40 million in 1998 to $1 billion in 2002. The program now provides funding to 2,250 school districts to support school-based programs in 7,000 public schools.

Some studies of after-school programs have found that these programs increase academic achievement and student safety, as well as reduce negative behaviors such as drug and alcohol use. However, other studies have found that after-school programs have no effect on-and even worsen-certain outcomes, leading to debate over whether the evidence supports increased investment in after-school programs.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Education contracted with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., and Decision Information Resources, Inc., to evaluate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. The evaluation team collected student outcome data in five areas: after-school supervision, location, and activities; academic performance and achievement; behavior; personal and social development; and safety. Because the purpose of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program by law is safe and drug-free learning environments for students that support academic achievement, this evaluation focused on student and school outcomes. It did not explore the full range of parental needs and satisfaction that might be affected by the availability of after-school programs. It did collect parent outcome data on involvement in school activities and employment status.
Online Availability:
Cover Date: October 2004
Web Release: June 24, 2006
Print Release:
Publication #: NCEE CLC2004
General Ordering Information
Center/Program: NCEE
Type of Product: Evaluation Report
Extended Day (Day Care) Programs and Services
Questions: For questions about the content of this Evaluation Report, please contact:
NCES WebMaster.