The most beneficial after-school programs cost the most, writes Rand education researcher Megan Beckett. While most of the past evaluations of after-school programs paint them as generally beneficial, this study found no evidence to support claims that youth benefit from less expensive, less resource-intensive programs. It discusses detrimental influences programs can have on youth behavior in school, as evidenced by increased disciplinary actions against program participants in the year following their participation in some after-school programs, including 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
Beckett writes that lax rules may contribute to the problem, and suggests that policymakers closely monitor programs to ensure they are not causing behavioral problems. The study also shows how more costly, intense programs will probably not help at-risk youth who are functioning at average or above-average levels, because they already get sufficient supports from family and school. Free, 48 pages. (310) 451-7002, http://rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/2008/RAND_OP215.pdf.