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Benefits of After School Programs in Question as Federal Funding Discussed

Benefits of After School Programs in Question as Federal Funding Discussed

As the federal government sets to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), experts debate the benefits of funding after school programs.

The largest source of federal funding for after school programs, the "$1.15 billion 21st Century Community Learning Centers, or CCLC, grant program" might be consolidated with other non-academic programs into a single block grant as is the case in early bills for the reauthorization of ESEA, according to Education Week.

Researcher Mark Dynarski's team at the Mathematica Policy Research evaluated the CCLC over a decade ago and insists that neither his nor national studies have conclusive evidence that after school programs improve student acheivement. For this reason, Dynarski argued that the federal government should reconsider funding after school programs.

On the other hand, advocate for the benefits of after school programs and the dean of the school of education at the University of California, Irvine, Deborah Vandell argued that Dynarki's research is outdated and that "21st Century programs today are not the same programs that they were 15 years ago."

She said her research "found that students who 'regularly attended high-quality programs demonstrated significant gains in standardized mathematics-test scores as well as self-reported work habits,' such as improved attendance," according to Education Week.

The Education Department also seems to agree with Vandell. In Education Week's article, the Education Department's press secretary, Dorie Nolt, said in an e-mail:

More recent data reported by states with 21st Century Community Learning Center grants show that students who participated in after-school programs for at least 30 days each year had better school attendance, saw fewer disciplinary incidents, and were more likely to be promoted to the next grade.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

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