Benefits of Afterschool Program

A recent study by a University of Florida study has revealed several benefits of an afterschool program. The study was done on a sample of middle school students in Gainesville, FL. It was found that those participants who participated in an afterschool program were more likely to be college ready than their peers who did not. The participants also demonstrated greater academic motivation and self-confidence.

In order to understand the benefits of an afterschool program, this article will focus on its potential impact on the academic development of youth. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “In recent years, U.S. student achievement has lagged behind other countries in the developed world. The recent stagnation of the American economy is believed to be partially due to excessive class size, limited access to quality schools, inadequate parental support, and lack of parental involvement.” To help improve the situation, a national commission was established, known as the National Smart Schools Initiative (NSI), which brings together education leaders from across the country to examine ways in which school systems can improve student achievement and create a better learning environment.

The NSI identified a need for more research on afterschool programs for middle school students. Afterschool programs are designed to supplement, not replace, the schedules of children who attend regular public or private schools. Because of this, it may be necessary for additional steps to be taken to ensure that afterschool programs effectively supplement the schedules of youth who are currently attending a state university. This research synthesis will examine three areas of particular interest to educational Benefits of afterschool program.

First, does an afterschool program have an impact on the number of hours that youth spend in class? This issue came up because some researchers believed that afterschool programs might prevent the adoption of new academic routines. In addition, some believed that youth who spent more time in afterschool programs were less likely to repeat courses that they failed the first time. Further research has shown that there is no evidence that a state university’s afterschool program has a negative impact on the number of hours that students take per semester. Therefore, while there is evidence that an afterschool program can serve as an instructional aid in enhancing learning, there is no suggestion that it can “stretch out” a student’s academic schedule or prevent him/her from developing new routines.

Second, is there an effect on student test scores? Test results can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as test conditions, teacher instruction, and student performance in prior exams. To explore whether there is a link between afterschool programs and test scores, researchers conducted interviews with a sample of nathers, including university teachers, school administrators, college professors, college students, and non-academics from four different states (Idaho, Nevada, North and South Carolina, and Texas). These people were asked if there were any significant differences in test performance or motivation between students who participated in afterschool programs and those who did not. The majority of these people indicated that there was little difference in test results between groups that participated in and didn’t participate in afterschool programs. Also, most people indicated that they were satisfied with the quality of their study materials and that they obtained most of their study material through the internet rather than in the traditional classroom.

Third, is there a positive effect on youth who are at risk for dropping out? A few years ago, a study was conducted in New York City which indicated that afterschool programs could help youth who were at risk for dropping out of high school. According to this research, dropouts from four specific high schools (abilities testing, English language arts, science, and social studies) who participated in afterschool programs had a three-percentage increase in their average grade point average. Additionally, dropouts from these same four schools who did not participate in afterschool programs experienced a three-percent decrease in their average dropout rate. This evidence suggests that participating in community-based organizations can have a positive influence on dropping out in elementary school.

What about college students? In addition to looking at dropouts, another group that can benefit from participation in afterschool programs are graduate school students. Researchers from a state university recently conducted a research synthesis on the benefits of student participation in afterschool programs. According to this research synthesis, graduate school students who participated in student enrichment activities were more likely to graduate from their chosen state university.

Furthermore, the research studied participants who were working professionals in various professional development positions at four different large professional development organizations. These organization participants were also interested in obtaining higher degrees or higher salaries. Out of the four organizations, the most common career interests of the participants were education and career development. It seems clear that any student attending a university or any adult interested in further professional development would be well served by getting involved with a student organized to assist that person in acquiring a university degree.

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