A project of the Afterschool Alliance.

After-School Programs and Academic Impact: A Study of Chicago’s After School Matters

Year Published: 2007

This Chapin Hall study examined Chicago’s After School Matters (ASM) program, which offers paid internships in the arts, technology, sports, and communications to high school students in some of the city’s most underserved schools. The study found positive impacts on students participating in the program when looking at academic performance and school day attendance. Compared with non-participants from the same high schools, ASM participants were more likely to graduate high school and less likely to miss school, fail courses, or dropout. The study also found that the higher the participation in the afterschool program, the greater the positive impact on students’ graduation rates, school day attendance, and course completion.

Program Name: After School Matters

Program Description: After School Matters (ASM), created in 2000, is a non-profit organization that provides high-quality afterschool and summer learning programs to more than 15,000 Chicago high school students each year as of 2016. Through these programs, which offer paid internships to students in the arts, technology, sports, and communication, After School Matters helps youth build positive relationships with adults, acquire workplace skills, and learn about career and education opportunities through apprenticeship opportunities.

Scope of the Evaluation: Local

Program Type: Afterschool

Location: Chicago, IL

Community Type: Urban

Grade level: High School

Program Demographics: This issue brief does not contain demographic data for the students included in this study, but After School Matters programming focuses on reaching low-income, traditionally underserved youth. In 2013, 86 percent of participants received free and reduced price lunch. Fifty-seven percent of participants were African-American, 31 percent were Latino, six percent were multiracial, three percent were Asian, and three percent were white.

Program Website: http://www.afterschoolmatters.org/

Evaluator: Goerge, R., Cusick, G. R., Wasserman, M., & Gladden, R. M. Chapin Hall, Center for Children at the University of Chicago.

Evaluation Methods: Data were collected from different student groups dependent on the outcomes evaluated. To analyze academic performance, such as course completion and school day attendance, data were collected from 24 schools offering After School Matters (ASM) programming and included 20,370 students overall—17,099 who did not participate in the program, 1,982 who applied to the program but did not participate, and 1,289 who did participate in the program. Regarding graduation and dropout rates, students from 12 schools offering ASM were tracked throughout their entire high school career, with 26 percent participating in ASM, and 74 percent not participating. Data on students’ ASM program attendance was also collected throughout this evaluation to determine the impacts of varying levels of ASM participation on academic success.

Evaluation Type: Quasi-experimental

Summary of Outcomes: The study found positive impacts on students participating in the program when looking at academic performance and school day attendance. After School Matters (ASM) participants had fewer school day absences and failed fewer courses than nonparticipants. ASM participants were not only less likely to fail a course than their non-participating peers—including English, math, sciences and social studies—but ASM participants also saw gains when comparing the percentage of courses failed before entering the program (15 percent) to courses failed while in the program (13.7 percent).

The study also found that, as participation in the program increased, the positive impact on students in the program also increased. ASM students with high (attending the program 23 to 27 days) or very high participation in the program (attending the program for more than 27 days) had fewer school day absences and failed fewer course than the low (less than 13 days) and moderate (between 13 and 22 days) participation groups. ASM participants also had higher graduation rates and lower dropout rates than non-participants, with graduation rates increasing and dropout rates decreasing with increasing levels of participation. ASM students with very high participation rates were 2.7 time more likely to graduate than non-participants and 30 percent less likely to drop out of school than non-participants.

Date Added: November 3, 2016