Research Update

Afterschool Programs Close Achievement Gaps

Grade 5 Math Achievement

 Low Income  Medium Income  High Income

What's the Scoop?

New research from Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell and her colleagues at the University of California-Irvine School of Education demonstrates that consistent participation in afterschool activities during the elementary school years is linked to narrowing the gap in math achievement by grade 5. Vandell addresses the policy implications of her findings in an op-ed in The Hill and is featured in a Q&A with The Hechinger Report.

Key Findings

Improvements in overall student achievement

Consistent participation in afterschool programs leads to positive associations with student’s overall academic performance.

Reductions in school absences

Teachers report increased school day attendance and work habits when students consistently attend afterschool programs.

Improvements in behavior outcomes

Participation in out-of-school time activities is linked to positive effects on behavior outcomes such as aggression.

Factors Linked to Positive Benefits

Greater time spent participating in an afterschool program

Consistent participation in afterschool activities yields positive results.

Students reporting positive experiences in their afterschool program

When youth like their afterschool program they show improvement in the classroom.

Supportive and caring afterschool staff

When youth report on their afterschool experience, emotional support from adult staff is the most significant factor leading to their positive assessment.

Resources to Learn More

The Achievement Gap is Real: New Research Shows Afterschool is a Real Solution Linked to Closing the Gap

Overview graphics of the recent research conducted by Vandell and her colleagues demonstrating the benefits of consistent participation in afterschool programs.

Participation in Out-of-School Settings and Student Achievement and Behavior Outcomes

Paper presented by Vandell and her colleagues presented around their research objectives, data sources and student outcome measures at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association.

Longitudinal Studies of Participation in Structured Activities and Other Out-of-School Settings and Youth Developmental Outcomes

Presentations from Vandell and her colleagues around the multiple components of their longitudinal research process and an analysis of their results at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development.

Afterschool Program Quality and Student Outcomes: Reflections on Positive Key Findings on Learning and Development From Recent Research

Expanding Minds and Opportunities compendium contribution from Vandell discussing the growing research base around the positive effects that afterschool programs have had on student academic, social and behavioral outcomes, and its implications on public policy.

Expanding Learning: Making a Difference for Children and Youth

Slides from Vandell's keynote presentation to the 2014 National Network of Statewide Afterschool Networks Meeting in Washington, DC.

Afterschool Programs: Fostering Youth Development AND Reducing Achievement Gap

Presentation prepared by Vandell for the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development. Her remarks showcased the key ingredients of powerful programming and evidence of the short-term effects and long-term outcomes of afterschool participation.

About the Researcher

Deborah Lowe Vandell is the founding dean of the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine. An internationally recognized scholar on the effects of early child care, K-12 education, afterschool programs and families on children’s social, behavioral and academic functioning, Vandell has examined the effects of afterschool programs on academic and social outcomes. This work underscored the importance of out-of-school time as a factor in classroom success. In addition, Vandell developed an online assessment tool in use by the state of California to measure quality and student performance in afterschool and summer learning programs.