Research shows that expanding learning beyond the regular school day and instituting dropout-prevention initiatives can increase graduation rates and help the country remain competitive in the 21st century.
According to the After School Alliance issue brief Preventing Dropouts: The Important Role of After School, the national high school dropout rate has declined to single digits within the last decade. Despite the recent gains, the United States ranks 22nd in high school graduation rates among industrialized nations, and nearly 33 percent of African American youth and 30 percent of Latino and Native American youth do not complete high school on time.
The National Dropout Prevention Center/Network has found ways to support students:
- Work with the individual, family, school, and community to build academic and social skills and family engagement.
- Provide a safe learning environment, mentoring, service learning, individualized instruction and career and technology education.
After school programs can play a key role in these efforts. Research shows that expanding learning beyond the regular school day and instituting dropout-prevention initiatives can increase graduation rates and help the country remain competitive in the 21st century. In a meta-analysis of more than 60 studies of expanded learning programs, researchers found that quality programs had a positive effect in many key areas, including academic achievement, attendance and social behavior. When closely aligned, the combination of expanded learning and targeted intervention strategies can help students stay in school and graduate. Expanded learning counters the risk factors associated with dropping out:
- Improves grades in reading and math
- Improves school attendance
- Reduces negative behavior
- Improves academic achievement
- Increases positive engagement
In 2011, ExpandED Schools, formerly The After School Corporation (TASC), launched a national demonstration of its ExpandED schools initiative to add three hours to the conventional 6 1/2 hour school day. Through school-community partnerships, the ExpandED approach offered elementary and middle school students more time for a balanced curriculum and engaging and personalized instruction. After a detailed analysis of student data, ExpandED Schools found that the model helped to increase students’ math proficiency and improved student attendance, which are contributing factors to higher graduation rates. Visit www.expandedschools.org to learn more about expanded learning.