As many schools in central Indiana are moving towards year-round calendars, it’s important for nonprofit service providers and youth development professionals to adapt and work with their local school districts to make sure that their youth enrichment programs fit with the schedule of when students will be out-of-school and on breaks. Some say that a big benefit of year-round or “balanced calendars” is that students are no longer out of the educational setting for long periods of time. As a result, students will not need as much remedial time going over lessons that were forgotten over breaks. However, when kids have positive and productive activities to attend while on break, it leads to an increase in their motivation to stay in school.
In a recent report published by RAND Education and commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, results indicate that when cities coordinate out-of school activities, the results are better quality of programs and improved attendance. The report, “Hours of Opportunity: Lessons from Five Cities on Building Systems to Improve After School, Summer School, and Other Out-of-School Time (OST) Programs” studied five cities: Boston, Chicago, New York City, Providence, and Washington, D.C. as they work to coordinate out-of-school activities with their local schools, parks departments, and non-profit after-school programs. Each study site had four goals to lead this process: increase access to and participation in OST programs, improve the quality of OST programs, build an information, technology, and communication infrastructure to facilitate better management and support for OST programs, and work toward sustaining OST programs and the systems designed to support them. The sites were given an initial planning grant to research their local needs and asses what resources were needed for improvements. After the planning assessment was completed, the sites implemented their plan, and five years later this study shows results for their coordinated efforts.
Some of the key accomplishments from each site include:
Goal #1: Increase Access and Participation
• Opening additional programs sites in underserved areas, and schools and other service providers facilities, and by in some cases providing transportation.
Goal #2: Improve Quality
• Development of quality standards, quality-assessment systems for providers, and incentives for improvement.
Goal #3: Develop Information Systems for Decision-making
• All cities developed web-based information management systems to track enrollment, attendance, and demographic data. This information as used to analyze which programs were the most desirable for students and parents. This data was very helpful in demonstrating needs in requests for funds.
Goal #4: Plan for Financial Sustainability
• Some cities had diversified funding sources, but all struggled with this issue – and still do.
What do you think – could Indianapolis students and youth benefit from a more coordinated effort when dealing with Out-of-School time?
Learn more about this student, and view the full report.