Archive for the ‘Afterschool’ Category

October 19th, 2012

Webinars Feature Strategies for Districts, Afterschool

On Tuesday, Attendance Works partnered with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to deliver a peer learning webinar, All Together Now! Developing Systemic Responses to Chronic Absence.

In many districts and communities, the work on chronic absence is often initiated by one or two individuals who realize there is a serious problem.  Sometimes, the leadership comes from the very top. For example, many superintendents in response to Attendance Works’ Call to Action have decided to own the issue, mobilize their communities and drive with data. Other times, the spark is provided by internal or external change agents such as the leader of a local Grade Level Reading Campaign.

The webinar put a spotlight on three different educational leaders and how they have used actionable data, positive messaging, capacity building and shared accountability to ensure systemic approaches to reducing

On Thursday, Oct. 25. the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project hosted a webinar called Attendance Matters: How Expanded Learning Opportunities Keep Kids in School.

We shared what we know about how good afterschool programs can actually improve school day attendance by engaging community partners, families and students themselves. The afterschool and expanded learning programs in Pennsylvania, Utah and Maryland talked about how they are joining forces with school districts to institute programs that help prevent chronic absences. This webinar is part of a series developed by the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project designed to focus on what is working and deliver research and best practices to educators and afterschool leaders who are committed to expanded learning for all young people.

 

 

 

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August 19th, 2011

Good Afterschool = Better School Day Attendance

A new study by Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) underscores the important role that engaging afterschool programs can play in encouraging students to come to school regularly.

The study, AfterZone: Outcomes for Youth Participating in Providence’s After-School System, found that absences were 25 percent lower among middle school youth who participated in the AfterZone for two school years compared with their peers who did not participate. The students also saw gains in math grades.

“It was rather striking that a network of after-school programs shrinks school absences by 25 percent after two years, a reduction that was unusually large for after-school programs that do not explicitly target school outcomes,” Tina Kauh, P/PV senior research associate and director of the study said in a news release. The study was funded by The Wallace Foundation

The study released Thursday reinforces past research showing the connection between good afterschool and good school-day attendance. It makes sense, given the sense of belonging, the connection to caring adults and the academic enrichment that many afterschool programs provide.

But often improved attendance is merely a byproduct, rather than a stated goal of the program. Attendance Works partnered with three state afterschool networks to see what would happen if these programs made reducing chronic absence an intentional part of their mission. What data would they have to collect or seek from schools? What sort of professional development would afterschool providers need?

Working with networks from Maryland, Utah and Pennsylvania, with support from the C.S. Mott Foundation, helped strengthen their capacity to engage the providers in leveraging afterschool programming to reduce chronic school absence.

We explored sticking points, such as gaining access to school attendance records and sharing with teachers. And we polled site directors to see how they collected and used attendance data, how they collaborated with school officials and how much attention they paid to school attendance.

We also found some promising programs: In rural Pennsylvania, the SHINE program’s focus on reducing absences has led to higher school attendance rates, improved communications with parents and a remarkable collaboration with school teachers. In Baltimore, the Family League is using its position as a funder to encourage providers to target and address the needs of chronically absent students. An analysis of attendance data found that students participating in League-funded afterschool programs had better attendance than their peers.

The AfterZone, the Providence, R.I., program studied in the report released this week, is a partnership among local public agencies and nonprofit organizations. The program is centered in communities where youth live and go to school.

The study followed 763 students from six Providence middle schools who were in the sixth grade at the start of the study. Nearly half (354) participated in the AfterZone during the 2008-09 school year. Researchers followed them for two years.

Attendance gains came in both years of the program. In their second year, AfterZone students missed three fewer days on average (about nine days instead of 12) than the students not in the program.

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May 26th, 2011

Can After School Programs Improve School Day Attendance?

The SHINE After School Program decided on a simple goal: improve the school-day attendance of the students who show up for the after school program in rural Pennsylvania.

The results: a school attendance rate significantly higher than similar programs nationally, improved communications with parents and a remarkable collaboration with school teachers that could prove a model for out-of-school time programs.

“They look at us as an extension of them,” director Jeanne Y. Miller said of the nine public and parochial schools where SHINE operates. “I think we’re building the mindset that we’re part of what they do.”

SHINE, which operates across 430 square miles in Carbon and Schuylkill counties, draws from a population largely of low-income students, all of them referred for academic reasons, many of them chronically absent or at risk of missing too many days.

The after school program is part of a continuum that begins at birth with home visits for new families, continues with outreach to struggling kindergarteners and stretches through high school to help students with the transition into college. SHINE also offers professional development for after school providers and local school teachers, emphasizing the importance of tracking chronic absence.

When families sign up for after school, providers visit the home to get to know the parents and children. Parents must sign a contract stressing the importance of attending school and the after school program. SHINE sends a middle of the year letter reinforcing the message. When students don’t come to school, they can’t come to SHINE.

For students who do improve their school day attendance, SHINE offers rewards: a visit to the “treasure chest” for younger students, gift certificates for others. Parents, too, are entered in monthly drawings for gas cards, family dinners or trips to Walmart.

Central to SHINE’s attendance initiative is tracking—and sharing—attendance data. The after school providers receive report cards and attendance reports from school teachers every nine weeks. Providers also track attendance for the after school program and submit it, along with the school district information, to an evaluator. Analysis shows the more that students attend SHINE, the better they do in school and in school attendance.

The success of SHINE’s approach is clear:

  • 88 percent of the SHINE students were regular attendees as compared to below 60 percent nationally for other 21st Century After‐School Programs
  • 93 percent of the students who attended SHINE 90 days or more had exceptional or satisfactory
  • 77 percent of the parents surveyed over the past 5 years said the SHINE program improved school
  • 96 percent of the students over the past 5 years were promoted to the next grade
  • 78 percent of the SHINE students demonstrated improvement in academic performance

 

Miller spoke on an Attendance Works peer learning webinar, featured in this blog item in Education Week. Through a grant from the Charles M. Mott Foundation, Attendance Works is working with state out-of-school time networks in Maryland, Utah and Pennsylvania to explore how after school programs can improve school-day attendance.

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