Evaluator: Lauer, P. A., Akiba, M., Wilkerson, S. B., Apthorp, H. S., Martin-Glenn, M. L., & Snow, D. Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning.
Evaluation Methods: Researchers searched the ERIC, PsycINFO, and Dissertation Abstracts databases for research studies to include in their meta-analysis. Included studies had to meet the following criteria: focus on out-of-school-time (OST) programs for K-12 students in the United States, be published in or after 1985, include an assessment of academic achievement, examine the impacts on students who were at risk of school failure, include a comparison group of students not participating in the OST program, and not be exclusive to special populations (i.e., English language learner or special education students). Thirty-five studies were selected. Within each of these studies, researchers examined OST programs’ structure—including content, focuses, time frame, specific literacy or math strategies used, qualifications of providers, and program duration—as well as information related to student participants, such as gender, ethnicity, and grade level.
Evaluation Type: Experimental;Quasi-experimental
Summary of Outcomes: The meta-analysis found that out-of-school time (OST) programs had a statistically significant positive effect on the academic achievement of participants who were at risk for school failure, a population that included students who were not performing well academically in school or students who had characteristics associated with dropping out of school. Positive effects on reading and math achievement were found: larger impacts on reading were seen for lower elementary school students (K-2) and high school students, and larger, more significant effects on math achievement seen for middle and high school students.
Additionally, the program duration—defined as the total number of hours the program was available to students—and type of activities offered had an effect on students’ academic achievement. Students in programs that were moderate in duration (more than 45 hours but less than 100 hours) and offered one-on-one tutoring opportunities showed the most significant impacts on reading. Regarding math achievement, programs of moderate duration that focused on both academic and social skills and offered small group instruction or a mix of student groupings showed the largest impact on students’ math achievement. When looking at math outcomes, researchers found that programs that had both an academic and social focus had a higher positive effect than programs that were only academic in nature, making the case that OST programs do not only need to focus on academic activities to have a positive effect on students’ academic achievement.