Study: RAND Researchers Explore “The Value of Out-of-School Time Programs”

At Nexplore we believe firmly in the importance of data-driven studies in guiding the design and implementation of our after-school programs. The RAND Corporation recently released a study (available here) entitled “The Value of Out-of-School Time Programs” that examines the data available on how these programs (“OST Programs” in the article) find their greatest effectiveness. The article is well worth the full read, but here are some key takeaways:

* OST programs in general provide measurable benefits, especially to low-income families. The exact benefits depend on the program(s) offered, but ‘multipurpose’ OST programs consistently provide safety and supervision that would otherwise be lacking for children without a stay-at-home parent, and ‘academic’ OST programs provide a significant positive effect on students’ academic achievement

* While these benefits are clear, there is a lack of complete research data. Specifically, the researchers posit that there is a credible link between more specialized activities in OST programs (e.g. violin lessons rather than open play in a gymnasium) and enhanced opportunities for the attending students later in life. Better cataloging of data would allow researcher to put theories like this to more rigorous tests. This would allow schools and policymakers to choose programs more wisely, and would allow programs to increase their effectiveness.

* To the best of their ability OST programs should ensure that individual students maximize attendance in their courses. This not only demonstrably provides the greatest benefit to those students, but also provides clearer data for the aforementioned possible research.