Schools & Educators

“Children and youth who participate in well-implemented programs and activities outside of school are poised to stay enrolled longer and perform better in school than their peers who do not attend such programs.” – Council of Chief State School Officers

Connecting High-Quality Expanded Learning Opportunities and the Common Core Standards to Advance Student Success


Measurable Impact for Students, Teachers and Administrators

The Afterschool Alliance’s Afterschool: Supporting Family Involvement in Schools issue brief summarizes years of research proving the positive benefits of quality afterschool/out-of-school time (OST) that is connected to the school day:

  • Higher grades, homework completion rates and test scores
  • Higher graduation rates and postsecondary education enrollment
  • Better attendance records and lower dropout rates
  • Fewer negative behaviors such as alcohol and drug use and violence
  • Increase in positive attitudes and behaviors
  • Better teacher morale and higher ratings of teachers by parents
  • Better reputations of schools within the community


Improved Parent and Community Engagement

Whether school-based or community-based, quality OST involves parents and utilizes community resources. Working with parents and the community does present challenges (lack of time, funding, family issues, etc.), but with proper planning and partnering, parents can become more positively engaged in their child’s learning and development. For some parents, before school or after school time is their only connection to what their child is learning during the day.

The Harvard Family Research Project’s (HRFP) Focus on Families! How to Build and Support Family-Centered Practices in Afterschool and Promising Strategies for Connecting Out-of-School Time Programs to Schools: Learning What Works (p.16) highlight innovative ways for OST providers to successfully engage families and the community, and build stronger relationships with schools. Low income families and neighborhoods are especially dependent on these opportunities and programs. Even in challenging economic times where parents and schools are cutting back, quality of care and staff, and programs is still the top priority for parents. OST that collaborates with local schools, educators and the community can share resources to maintain quality.


Keeping Students in School and Inspiring Learning

As noted above, strong OST programs inspire students to learn and stay in school. Frequent attendance in quality OST programs improves grades and test performance, increases school attendance, improves homework completion and quality, reduces grade retention and increases the likelihood that students will graduate from high school and go on to some type of post secondary education. (Afterschool Alliance and Harvard Family Research Project 2004) Making the Case: How Good Afterschool Programs Improve School-day Attendance research shows that good afterschool programs can not only improve academic performance but also influence school-day attendance.

The strongest predictor of whether students will dropout of high school is poor academic performance. Other risk factors include repeating grades, low socioeconomic background, speaking English as a second language, becoming pregnant, and being frequently tardy or absent from school. (U.S. Department of Education, 2004)

Summer OST programs help prevent the loss of learning that students experience cumulatively throughout their school years over the summer. The Wallace Foundation-commissioned study, Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning finds that preventing summer learning loss requires a collaborative approach from educators at all levels, district administrators and policy makers. The HRFP’s Year-Round Learning: Linking School, Afterschool, and Summer Learning to Support Student Success, reinforces summer learning and an approach to expanded learning—one that provides students with access to quality learning environments across the year.

For more background and resources on OST practice, policy and research, PSAYDN recommends these leading partners:

For a more detailed list of our Partners and Funders, click here.


NCSL's Membership in the Afterschool Technical Assistance Collaborative

The National League of Cities, Council of Chief State School Officers, Finance Project, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Governors’ Association, Afterschool Alliance, and Terry Peterson of the College of Charleston, with the help of Learning Point Associates and Collaborative Communications Group provide technical assistance to the states around comprehensive state-wide policies on afterschool programs. Funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation these organizations work together collaboratively with statewide afterschool networks to provide the necessary technical assistance to help states create comprehensive policies that support quality Expanded Learning Opportunities for children.


Recommended Reading on Parent and Family Afterschool Needs and Engagement



All Work and No Play? is research that suggests a change in direction for our national conversation on out-of-school activities and programs. It is clear that structured, organized non-school activities are highly valued in the lives of our nation’s young people. Families want a variety of activities that provide a child new interests—not just afterschool tutoring. Therefore, design and evaluation of out-of-school offerings need to respond to those values.


The Economy's Impact on Parents' Choices and Perceptions about Child Care presents information on a nationwide poll of 1,000 parents with children under age 12 and their child care choices and perspectives in the current economy. The report revealed that quality and cost remain the most important factors for parents when choosing child care. Seventy five percent of parents rate affordable child care as the most or one of the most important factors in helping working families and more than half of families with children under age 5 (51 percent) say the economy has affected their child care in some way. Moreover, it still remains, parents' logical assumptions about child care standards far exceed the reality of the state of child care policies.


Afterschool Alliance – Extended Learning Time Talking Points

  • If well designed and implemented, initiatives to extend the school day could help some of the more than 14 million children who are unsupervised after the school day ends and those who need additional academic support. But extended learning time programs that merely lengthen the school day are not likely to do all they could to help students learn, engage them in school, or reduce dropout rates.
  • Extended learning time initiatives will benefit greatly by incorporating the lessons learned by the afterschool field. Numerous evaluations and studies have shown how to structure afterschool programs to provide the greatest academic, social and behavioral benefits to the most possible students. This same information can help ensure quality in extended learning time as well.
  • Specifically, afterschool programs are most successful when they work with the whole child by: providing homework help and tutoring; involving community based, youth development and other partners; and giving students the chance to explore new interests and engage through service-learning and real-world experiences. Extended learning time initiatives that do not incorporate those elements are unlikely to succeed.
  • A key benefit provided by afterschool programs is keeping students safe – out of trouble and off the streets – in the afternoons, until their parents get home from work. Lengthening the school day until 3:30 p.m. or even 4:30 p.m. will not solve that problem.
  • Afterschool programs are voluntary. Parents and children choose to participate based on need, interest and availability of programs. Extended day programs are a mandatory extension of the school day for all the children enrolled in a particular school.
  • Quality afterschool programs will remain essential, even where the school day expands. With more than 14 million kids unsupervised after schools close, we need to increase our investment in afterschool and invest in other promising models that turn unused or poorly used time into an opportunity to help our children and youth succeed, socially, academically and professionally.
  • We urge Members of Congress not to divert desperately needed afterschool dollars to lengthening the school day.


26 percent of Pennsylvania’s K-12 youth are responsible for taking care of themselves. These children spend an average of more than six hours per week unsupervised after school. A lack of adult supervision is linked to lower grades and test scores, higher levels of tobacco and drugs, an increased likelihood of accidents and injuries and a greater likelihood of early sexual activity. (Afterschool Alliance and National Institute on Out-of-School Time, 2004)