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Opinion: Why Congress Should Fund After School Programs

Why Congress Should Fund After School Programs

Congress should heed research that after school programs benefit students as much as classroom time does, according to researcher and founding dean of the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine, Deborah Lowe Vandell.

Vandell's research has shown that consistent participation in after school programs improves student achievement, attendance, and behavior. Her research also demonstrated that "when after school participation is highly consistent, there is no gap in low-income and high-income children's math acheivment...the more consistent the afterschool participation, the narrower the gap in math achievement," according to an article on expandedlearning.org. In other words, research shows that after school programs close the gap.

As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and consequentially the funding of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers -after school and summer programs that serve 1.6 million students a year- Vandell urges legislators to consider the benefits.

"Decisions about the future of after school programs should be based on accurate, comprehensive, and current research. As a substantial body of research reveals, high-quality afterschool programs do result in improvements in the students’ personal behavior, their academic achievements and their attendance at school," she said in an article on TheHill.com

"What’s in danger of being lost in this debate – and what Congress must keep in mind – is that these after school programs, which focus on enrichment, academic outcomes, and quality improvements, are designed to develop essential skills to help youngsters succeed in life. These skills such as solving problems, thinking critically, communicating effectively and working with others, augment the academic skills kids gain in school," she said.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

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