What Matters, What Works: Advancing Achievement After School

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The James Irvine Foundation and Public/Private Ventures

This report on Communities Organizing Resources to Advance Learning (CORAL) – an eight-year, $58 million effort to improve the educational performance of low-achieving students in five California cities – focuses on the evolving role of after-school programs. The report says such programs can improve youths’ academic achievement and provide new and diverse learning opportunities by providing more than homework help or child care. After an early study produced disappointing results, CORAL shifted to more intensive literacy training for youth, using high-quality staff. That produced stronger academic gains.

The authors contend that many after-school administrators don’t realize the power of their programs to shape youths’ academic careers, and they settle for poorly implemented programs that do not engage children. What’s unclear is how many after-school programs can find the staff or funding to focus so intensely on literacy, even if that’s within their mission. The authors say that gains can be realized at relatively low cost. Free, 24 pages. (415) 777-2244, http://www.irvine.org/assets/pdf/pubs/evaluation/WhatMatters_Insight.pdf.