This report, one of the first rigorous assessments of a citywide afterschool-system initiative , evaluates AfterZone, a Providence, R.I., program aimed at better meeting the needs and interests of middle school youngsters. The effort included four key features, according to the report: employing a single set of program quality standards and offering training and support to program providers; using a neighborhood “campus” model, where services were offered at multiple school sites in a geographically clustered area, known as a “zone;” offering developmentally appropriate programming for middle-school-age youth; and coordinating and leading the process for the children’s arrival and departure each day.

The study found an association between students’ participation in the AfterZone programs and a broad range of benefits, although much of the impact diminished by the end of the second year of the study, perhaps because many youngsters took part in programs only briefly. It is notable, however, that the impact on school attendance persisted—and increased for students who took part for two years. Moreover, students who took part for two years earned higher grades in math on average—by about one third of a grade—than comparison youth. “Taken together,” the authors write, “these findings suggest that the AfterZone yields benefits for seventh graders that are limited in scope but fairly large in magnitude.”

The report found that afterschool systems strongly rooted in the school context can have a positive impact on school-related outcomes, even without significant resources directed toward intensive academic support.

The report is the second of two studies looking at the AfterZone effort.

 Points of Interest

  • Youth were needed at home after school about one day per week on average for sibling care, affecting their participation in afterschool programs.
    #Afterschool study: Tweens spent about 1 day weekly caring for siblings, affecting their participation in programs.
  • Although short-term benefits can be experienced after eight weeks of participation in an afterschool program, youngsters need to continue their attendance for a longer period to gain more sustained outcomes.
    Study: Tweens saw short-term benefits from 8 weeks in #afterschool, but longer-term results need more participation.
  • Longer-term participants in Providence, R.I., afterschool system programming earned higher grades in math—by about one third of a grade—than comparison youth.
    Study: Tweens in Providence’s #afterschool effort earned higher grades in math than comparison youth.