Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Afterschool Compendium Release

On Tuesday, February 5th, 2013, Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success, edited by Terry K. Peterson, Ph.D., was released at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The compendium includes nearly 70 studies, reports, and commentaries that provide evidence that out of school time opportunities, including after school and during the summer, produce positive outcomes for students, families, and communities and examples of how this work can be supported and improved.

William S. White, President and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and Terry Peterson opened the event, which was moderated by Jim Kohlmoos, Executive Director of the National Association of State Boards of Education. A panel of contributing authors, including Mayor Christopher Coleman (St. Paul, Minnesota), Deborah Lowe Vandell (School of Education, University of California, Irvine), Gail Connelly (National Association of Elementary School Principals), and Ayeola Fortune (Education Team, United Way Worldwide), gave remarks and answered questions regarding research, policy, and practice. Many authors also spoke about their contributions and the significance of the compendium.

During an interactive panel discussion, key themes of collaboration and the importance of partnerships, as well as afterschool and summer learning as complementary approaches to learning during the school day, were echoed by the discussants. Dr. Vandell spoke to the natural partnership that can exist, stating that it is “not just extending the day or doing more of the same, but approaching the learning differently, providing more hands-on opportunities” in areas that are of interest to youth. Gail Connelly echoed this sentiment: “If you’re like me… you have days where you think, ‘I just wish I had a few more hours in this day.’ Thanks to high quality afterschool and summer programs, [principals] have a lot more hours …to work … with program directors … to plan ways that the afterschool and summer learning programs can be aligned with …the opportunity to extend their learning day.”

Mayor Coleman spoke to the connection between economic development and afterschool programming, stating that “all roads lead back to education.” Ms. Fortune also emphasized the impact of afterschool and summer learning programs in helping students succeed in and graduate from high school. United Way Worldwide has set a national goal of “cutting the dropout rate in half,” she said, stressing the importance of this being a shared goal that will require students, families, and communities working together. She observed that “the data shows that the high school graduation rate has gone up a couple of percentage points,” illustrating there is still much more work to do. When asked about the single most critical aspect of advancing afterschool programs, the panelists agreed that creating systems for sharing data, collaboration, professional development, and monitoring and improving quality were crucial.

The release of the compendium was part of the 2013 meeting of the National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks, Students at the Center of Learning: Closing the Opportunity Gap with Afterschool and Summer Learning, held February 4-7, 2013. Representatives from 49 states and a variety of intermediary organizations in the field came together to discuss issues, successes, and challenges in the areas of advocacy, communication, policy, research, program quality, partnerships, funding, and sustainability.

In addition to the print version of the compendium, which can be purchased on Amazon, there is an online version where readers can navigate the compendium by section, author, or topic of interest. The articles are free and may be downloaded, printed, and shared as long as the credit is given to the author(s) and the Expanded Learning & Afterschool Project.

Jessy Newman is a Research Associate with the Afterschool and Expanded Learning Group at the American Institutes for Research.

Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.

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