Key Findings: Student Growth and Achievement Happens During Out-of-School Time

January 13, 2021
Blog Post

Student growth and achievement happens beyond the traditional school day. The time that youth spend during out-of-school time (OST) is important to their overall healthy development and presents important opportunities for them to get connected to the right resources. These programs have been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have served as an important bridge in different ways. Read DC Action’s latest issue brief for more information on the OST landscape in the District of Columbia, who it serves, how it’s funded and what impact it has on the lives of young people.

Kids Do Better in School and Life

One thing is clear, a growing body of research shows that high-quality expanded learning programs are linked to positive academic and social emotional youth outcomes, including:

  • Academic performance
  • School attendance & participation
  • Social & emotional development
  • Fitness & wellness

Research shows well-structured environments, like OST programs, where children can explore their interests and capabilities can serve as opportunities to develop confidence, self-efficacy, and a sense of belonging in peer groups. For students of color, who often face bias and discrimination, building this sense of community and safety is essential to their development.

Who OST Programs Serve

Each of these funding streams supports programming for children and youth ranging from Pre-K or kindergarten through high school. Individual program sites generally serve a narrower age range and no DCPS administered 21st Century Learning program serving students older than eighth grade in the pre-pandemic context. Prior to the pandemic, the sources below supported the following number of children and youth.

  • 21st Century Learning
    9,078 participants in FY19
  • Learn 24
    27,096 seats available in FY19
  • DC Department of Parks and Recreation
    7,937 youth in summer camp in fiscal year 2019
    21,438 in Roving Leaders across 4 quarters (likely counting youth multiple times, once per quarter)
    646 in Break Camp; 479 in Fun Day (programs for days when school is not in session)
    353 in Enrichment Zone and 979 in Afternoon Access (afterschool programs for ages 6-12)
    It is not clear how many youth are served by the budget item for “Teen Programs”