Washington, DC (PRWEB) February 13, 2013
A solid base of research and best practices shows that quality afterschool and summer learning programs make a positive difference for students, families, schools, and communities, according to a new book authored by more than 100 researchers, educators, community leaders, policy makers, and practitioners. The book offers specific examples from across the country of how this growing movement is turning “non-school hours” into “learning hours” to support children and youth.
The first-of-its-kind book, Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success, demonstrates the role afterschool and summer learning play in improving and expanding students’ education, how communities with different demographics are building successful supports for their students, the role afterschool programs play in education reform, how these programs are helping students become more career and college ready and engaged in learning, and more.
“Afterschool and summer learning programs expand minds and opportunities for America’s kids,” said the book’s executive editor, Terry K. Peterson, Ph.D., at the book release event in Washington, D.C. “This book presents strong evidence that quality afterschool and expanded learning opportunities contribute to student success and should be moved from the margins of the education reform agenda to being one of the important tools and strategies leveraged to help more young people catch up, keep up, and get ahead.”
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee; Former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise, president, Alliance for Excellent Education; Milton Chen, senior fellow, The George Lucas Educational Foundation; Michael H. Levine, executive director, Joan Ganz Cooney Center, Sesame Workshop; Tony Evers, Wisconsin state superintendent of public instruction; Tom Torlakson, California state superintendent of public instruction; and Carol R. Johnson, Boston Public Schools superintendent, are among the notable contributors to the book.
In his chapter, Governor Lincoln Chafee wrote about two specific programs and the strong school-community partnerships that make them effective, stating, “Rhode Island currently has 21st Century Community Learning Centers in 56 schools, serving over 13,000 students after the school bell rings. These partnerships ensure that afterschool and summer learning programs reinforce school-day learning and strengthen understanding by making real-world connections for students.”
Deborah Lowe Vandell, founding dean, School of Education, University of California, Irvine, has been studying afterschool and summer programs and policies for more than 25 years. In her article, she summed up the research on the effectiveness of quality afterschool and summer programs:
The book’s main themes, echoed throughout the nearly 70 articles, include:
Expanding Minds and Opportunities provides a variety of concrete, effective approaches to expand learning after school and during summers to serve more students.
As Ayeola Fortune, director of education initiatives at the United Way, put it at the beginning of her article in the book, “Any effort to improve education must factor in the reality that students spend only 20 percent of their time in school.” The strategy for using out-of-school time to expand opportunities “must include a shared vision, collaboration, aligned activities, and collective action among all sectors to reach our youth with high quality, well-designed, and well-implemented afterschool, summer, and weekend programs,” she wrote.
Gail Connelly, executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, shared some of what her members have learned through their partnership with the National AfterSchool Association. She wrote, “When principals and afterschool leaders share leadership responsibilities, they can create seamless connections between school and afterschool and between school and summer learning programs, resulting in higher levels of achievement, a well-rounded education, and fulfillment for all children and youth.”
She added, “Our organizations also see 21st Century Community Learning Centers as a real opportunity to build and ‘test drive’ these partnerships, so current proposals to water down or eliminate the partnership requirements and afterschool provisions in the program make little sense.”
Several articles examine the role the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative has played in expanding and improving learning opportunities in recent years across all kinds of communities in America. Throughout the book, case studies, evaluations, and best practice reports show how important this funding has been for local and state afterschool and summer programs, community schools, and community education.
Currently, there are almost 11,000 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs across the nation serving nearly 1.7 million children and youth. These centers involve more than 30,000 community partners and nearly 300,000 families.
There are now 41 statewide afterschool networks, an indicator of an extensive local, state, and national infrastructure that contributes to the quality, sustainability, and scale of afterschool and summer learning programs. More than 34 states have developed quality standards for programs.
Mayor Chris Coleman of St. Paul, Minn., first vice president of the National League of Cities, joined four other city leaders from around the country to share the work they are doing at the local level to bring policymakers, funders, educators, business leaders, nonprofits, and parents together to support the next generation. They are connecting the dots that education is about more than just what happens during a school day. “Supporting afterschool programming is part of our education improvement strategy, economic development strategy, neighborhood development strategy, and crime prevention strategy. In short, it’s all connected,” they wrote.
Expanding Minds and Opportunities provides a window into how educators, schools, and communities are working together to provide opportunities, develop solutions, and break down barriers to student success. “We hope that all those involved in education can use the research, best practices, and examples in this book to make their programs the best they can be to help more young people reach their maximum potential,” said Peterson.
About the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project
The Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project is a 50-state initiative harnessing the power of networks and leaders to help schools and communities leverage the time beyond school to accelerate student achievement. A partnership of funders led by the C.S. Mott Foundation support the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project.
More information about the book and the project, as well as additional resources, can be found at http://www.expandinglearning.org.