In a report from The Expanded Learning & Afterschool Project titled “Afterschool Programs Close Achievement Gaps,” research found a link between afterschool programs and the narrowing gap in math achievement.

In a report from The Expanded Learning & Afterschool Project titled “Afterschool Programs Close Achievement Gaps,” research found a link between afterschool programs and the narrowing gap in math achievement. Researcher Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell and her colleagues at the University of California-Irvine School of Education discovered that consistent participation in afterschool activities in elementary school can help close the gap in math achievement between low-income and high-income children by grade 5. However, there are close to 15 million students in the United States who are unable to attend an afterschool program due to cost and/or availability of high-quality, affordable programs. Unfortunately, the lack of participation in an afterschool program is linked to behavior problems, poor attendance and lower grades.

In an op-ed in The Hill, Vandell refers to her findings to argue the need for policy that provides funding for high-quality afterschool programs that provide enriching, engaging learning activities beyond the school day. Although Congress recently restored nearly $60 million in federal funding for the 21st CCLC program, Vandell believes there should be more funding opportunities for community programs. In the article, she states: “With research revealing that high-quality early learning and after-school programs provide positive results in youth outcomes up until high school, the nation needs more investments in these proven initiatives at the local, state and federal levels.”

Key findings

Consistent participation in afterschool activities:

  • Improves overall academic performance.
  • Reduces school absences and increases engagement.
  • Yields positive effects on behavior, such as decreased aggression.

Factors linked to positive benefits

  • Constant participation in afterschool activities
  • Positive experiences in the afterschool program
  • A supportive and caring afterschool staff

To learn more about the report and for more resources on the achievement gap and afterschool, visit http://expandinglearning.org/research/vandell/.