Opinion

After-School Data Old, Discredited

Your readers would have been well-served if your brief article on the RAND Corp.’s recent paper on afterschool programs (“Current-Generation Youth Programs: What Works, What Doesn’t and at What Cost?” April) had noted the source of RAND’s data.

Among other things, the paper notes that after-school programs targeted at specific negative behaviors are more expensive than those aimed at a broader range of children – not an altogether surprising finding. It also goes on to assert that the less costly programs may not generate sufficiently positive outcomes. That suggestion, however, appears to be based entirely on the findings of the highly controversial study of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative conducted by Mathematica Policy and Research several years ago.

Youth Today’s story could lead readers to conclude that RAND’s paper involved new data. That’s not the case. RAND’s “conclusions” about the benefits of such programs were Mathematica’s, and they are conclusions based on data that has rightly been called into question.

Jodi Grant, Executive Director
Afterschool Alliance
Washington

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