Evaluation of the New York City Out-of-School Time Initiative: Implementation of Programs for High School Youth

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Evaluation of the New York City Out-of-School Time Initiative: Implementation of Programs for High School Youth

In Year 2, OST programs increased both their enrollment and participation rates. Programs scaled up enrollment to serve more than 69,000 youth throughout New York City. Rates of individual youth participation also increased substantially compared to Year 1, indicating that programs were successfully recruiting and retaining participants. In addition, programs reported that they improved the quality and capacity of their program staff by hiring staff members with varied experiences and qualifications and by staff participation in internal and external professional development opportunities. Programs offered both academic and non-academic activities to youth but had to balance competing priorities from schools, which typically sought a focus on academic programming after school. Based on principles established in youth development research, evaluators found a need for more youth opportunities for active, hands-on learning.

In Year 2, the evaluation identified a core set of program quality features that were associated with high levels of program participation and with positive social and academic outcomes. The evaluation will continue to track these features and their associations with participant benefits in future years, in order to understand the settings and conditions that are associated with positive youth outcomes. At this point, the most important such features appear to be the following:

  • Youth have opportunities to interact with their peers.
  • Youth interact with and develop positive relationships with staff.
  • Youth are exposed to new and engaging experiences.
  • Youth have the opportunity to participate in both summer and school-year programming.
  • Programs offer a variety of both academic enrichment and non-academic activities, including arts, recreation, and civic engagement.
  • Programs staffing patterns include younger staff members supported by more experienced staff.
  • Program directors and staff participate regularly in professional development.
  • Programs communicate with schools regularly about student learning objectives.
  • Programs reach out to engage families through a parent liaison and/or special events for parents.

In Year 3, the evaluation will continue to collect data from OST programs to explore the associations among these program-quality features, youth participation patterns, and youth outcomes.

As the programs become increasingly well established in their schools and communities and as they scale up youth enrollment and participation, future evaluation reports will employ multivariate analysis approaches and develop a program quality index that rates programs on a combination of these quality features.

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