This document highlights some of the evidence base that shows well-designed and well-delivered summer enrichment and comprehensive afterschool can address “learning loss,” accelerate learning, and expand opportunities for student success. The findings are part of an extensive research- and evidence-base that supports local and state leaders’ efforts to address learning loss and acceleration by investing ESSER III and other funds to expand access, as called out in the law, for “summer learning or summer enrichment” and/ or “comprehensive afterschool programs” and to improve existing opportunities in high-need neighborhoods and schools.
From the new American Rescue Plan, substantial new funding is now available to all 50 states and many local communities extending over at least a 36-month period. These funds can be used to expand and improve existing summer and afterschool programs and partnerships and to start new programs, especially in low-income and moderately low-income schools and neighborhoods.
Guidance from the U. S. Department of Education Pertaining to ESSER III
On April 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education released the COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs to provide strategies for safely reopening all of America's schools and to promote educational equity by addressing opportunity gaps that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
In one frequently cited meta-analysis of the effects of well-designed and well-implemented afterschool programs involving 40 separate studies, researchers found significant and meaningful effects were found for foundational skills including:
- School grades
- Positive social behaviors
- Test scores
- Reduction in problem behaviors
- Improved school attendance
These academic, social, and emotional skills were important before the Covid-19 disruptions, but they are even more important during this time of needed acceleration and recovery.
Other research has used longitudinal study designs to determine if the effects of afterschool enrichment programs fade out or if their effects are sustained over time. To address this question, longitudinal research that follows the same children over time is needed. We now have peer-reviewed reports from a longitudinal study involving more than 1000 students to compare how students “fare” later in school and life having experienced afterschool opportunities in elementary school and middle school.
The graph shows that the more time students spent in afterschool activities during the elementary school years the more they improved in math achievement at grade 5. Importantly, while students from all income groups improved, the low-income students improved the most.