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Putting Data to Work for Young People: A Framework for Measurement, Continuous Improvement, and Equitable Systems

July 13, 2021

Systems that coordinate afterschool, summer and other out-of-school-time programming communitywide have emerged in a number of U.S. cities and counties over the last 15 years or so. The organizations that oversee these systems increasingly recognize the need for periodic pulse checks to evaluate their efforts and inform improvements. But what, exactly, should these organizations assess and how?In 2014, a framework to help answer that was developed by Every Hour Counts, a national coalition of citywide organizations that seeks to increase access to high-quality learning opportunities, particularly for students from underserved communities. This framework is a research-informed update of the tool.The heart of the framework is 11 desired outcomes of system work, some or all of which system leaders might want to measure progress toward, depending on local needs and circumstances. Five are directly related to overall system work and include whether a common goal for afterschool has been established. Three regard the efforts of programs, stressing, for instance, that they use management practices that enhance program quality. And three are related to young people—the rate of youth participation in programs, among them.For each of the 11 items, the tool describes indicators signaling progress toward the outcome; the type of data that can be collected for the indicators; ideas for working with the data; and ways to interpret and use the findings. A feature of the update from the 2014 version of the framework is a set of racial equity questions for each outcome, exploring matters ranging from whether system decision-making is inclusive to whether programs distribute high-quality offerings equitably. 

Putting Data to Work for Young People Guidebook: A Guidebook for the Every Hour Counts Framework for Measurement, Continuous Improvement, and Equitable Systems

July 13, 2021

Systems that coordinate afterschool, summer and other out-of-school-time programming communitywide have emerged in a number of U.S. cities and counties over the last 15 years or so. The organizations that oversee these systems increasingly recognize the need for periodic pulse checks to evaluate their efforts and inform improvements. But what, exactly, should these organizations assess and how?In 2014, a framework to help answer that was developed by Every Hour Counts, a national coalition of citywide organizations that seeks to increase access to high-quality learning opportunities, particularly for students from underserved communities. This framework is a research-informed update of the tool.The heart of the framework is 11 desired outcomes of system work, some or all of which system leaders might want to measure progress toward, depending on local needs and circumstances. Five are directly related to overall system work and include whether a common goal for afterschool has been established. Three regard the efforts of programs, stressing, for instance, that they use management practices that enhance program quality. And three are related to young people—the rate of youth participation in programs, among them.For each of the 11 items, the tool describes indicators signaling progress toward the outcome; the type of data that can be collected for the indicators; ideas for working with the data; and ways to interpret and use the findings. A feature of the update from the 2014 version of the framework is a set of racial equity questions for each outcome, exploring matters ranging from whether system decision-making is inclusive to whether programs distribute high-quality offerings equitably. 

Learning From Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Urban Youth

September 6, 2016

The largest-ever study of summer learning finds that students with high attendance in free, five to six-week, voluntary summer learning programs experienced educationally meaningful benefits in math and reading.The findings are important because children from low-income families lose ground in learning over the summer compared to their more affluent peers. Voluntary, district-run summer programs could help shrink this gap and have the potential to reach more students than traditional summer school or smaller-scale programs run by outside organizations. Yet until now little has been known about the impact of these programs and how they can succeed. Wallace's $50 million National Summer Learning Project seeks to help provide answers.Since 2011, five urban school districts and their partners, the RAND Corporation and Wallace have been working together to find out whether and how voluntary-attendance summer learning programs combining academics and enrichment can help students succeed in school.Starting in 2013, RAND conducted a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in five districts—Boston; Dallas; Duval County, Florida; Pittsburgh; and Rochester—to evaluate educational outcomes, focusing on children who were in 3rd grade in spring of that year. The 5,600 students who applied to summer programs were randomly assigned to one of two groups—those selected to take part in the programs for two summers (the treatment group) and those not selected (the control group). The study analyzed outcomes for 3,192 students offered access to the programs.Researchers found that those who attended a five-to-six-week summer program for 20 or more days in 2013 did better on state math tests than similar students in the control group. This advantage was statistically significant and lasted through the following school year. The results are even more striking for high attenders in 2014: They outperformed control group students in both math and English Language Arts (ELA), on fall tests and later, in the spring. The advantage after the second summer was equivalent to 20-25 percent of a year's learning in math and ELA.These findings are correlational but controlled for prior achievement and demographics, giving researchers confidence that the benefits are likely due to the programs and meeting the requirements for promising evidence under the Every Student Succeeds Act.High-attending students were also rated by teachers as having stronger social and emotional competencies than the control group students; however, researchers have less confidence that this was due to the programs, given the lack of prior data on these competencies.About 60 percent of students attending at least one day met the 20-day threshold that was defined as high attendance.Separately, the study also examined the impact of the programs on all students who were offered access, whether or not they actually attended. Because many students did not attend at a high level, and some didn't attend at all, the average benefits for all of these students were smaller and not statistically significant, with the exception of a modest but educationally meaningful boost in math scores in the fall after the first summer equivalent to 15 percent of a year's learning. These findings are causal, meaning that researchers are confident that they were due to the programs, and meet the standard of strong evidence under the Every Student Succeeds Act.For students to experience lasting benefits from attending summer programs, the report recommends that districts: run programs for at least five weeks; promote high attendance; include sufficient instructional time and protect it; invest in instructional quality; and factor in attendance and likely no-show rates when staffing the programs in order to lower per-student costs.

Ready for Fall? Near-Term Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Students' Learning Opportunities and Outcomes

December 8, 2014

This report is the second of five volumes from a five-year study, funded by The Wallace Foundation and conducted by the RAND Corporation, designed as a randomized controlled trial that assesses student outcomes in three waves: in the fall after the 2013 summer program (reported here), at the end of the school year following the program, and after a second summer program in 2014 (to show the cumulative effects of two summer programs). The goal of the study is to answer one key question: Do voluntary, district-run summer programs that include academics and enrichment activities improve student academic achievement and other outcomes, such as social and emotional competence?

Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children's Learning

June 13, 2011

Examines evidence that summer programs can help counter the "summer slide" that disproportionately affects low-income students and contributes to the achievement gap; identifies obstacles to program provision; analyzes costs; and offers recommendations.

Supporting Literacy Across the Sunshine State: A Study of Florida Middle School Reading Coaches

August 28, 2008

Evaluates the implementation of a reading coach program to provide on-site support to teachers in Florida middle schools and its impact on teachers, principals, school climate, and student achievement. Includes literature review and recommended models.

Reforming Teacher Education: Something Old, Something New

January 1, 2006

Evaluates the Teachers for a New Era initiative, which supported eleven colleges and universities in applying new practices to their teacher education programs and organizational culture. Assesses the sustainability of the practices beyond the initiative.

Achieving State and National Literacy Goals, a Long Uphill Road

December 1, 2004

Provides a 50-state assessment of student performance on reading or English language arts and writing assessments in order to measure adolescents' performance toward state literacy goals, and examines their relative performance against national standards.