Time Well Spent: How Can Schools Make the Most of Community Partnerships?

Guest post by Jennifer Peck

Teamwork is at the very heart of what we do at the Partnership for Children and Youth. When schools, expanded learning providers, and community partners work in a team, kids win.

Certainly all the literature around expanded learning stresses the importance of teamwork. But it’s one thing to see effective teamwork at a school site where there is often a single charismatic and committed leader who makes it a priority. It’s another to see teams function well at a broader system or school district level.TWS title

With our recent report, Time Well Spent, we sought to explore how school districts can support effective teamwork among school-day and expanded learning partners. Our home state of California is a great place to ask this question. Here, state funding has provided stable financial support for expanded learning for more than a decade and required a level of school-community teamwork in the process. Continue reading

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New Digital Tools and Resources from Ready To Learn are High-Quality, Enriching, and Perfect for Young Learners

These days, young kids – even toddlers in strollers – are playing with smartphones and tablets. But what kinds of games, apps, and stories are they consuming? Are they supporting their development or doing harm? How can educators tap into this technology to support academic skills, and even social and emotional learning?

Through Every Hour Counts’ national partnership with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, I recently attended a conference with public television stations from around the country who participate in Ready To Learn – a children’s media program that uses engaging, educational digital content to prepare kids for success in school. Ready To Learn particularly targets kids from low-income communities and builds tools and programming to close the achievement gap. Their model works: A number of studies have found that Ready To Learn programs boost kids’ reading skills – and kids from low-income backgrounds make the greatest improvement. Continue reading

New Data From America After 3PM: Unmet Demand for After-School is Higher than Ever

Guest post by Jennifer Rinehart

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to hundreds of after-school providers, funders, and advocates about the new America After 3PM data—research that shows more kids than ever are in after-school programs, but that the unmet demand for programs is also at its highest ever. Each time I talk to folks about the 2014 findings, a new aspect of America After 3PM grabs my attention. For instance, the finding that for every one child in an after-school program now, two more would be enrolled if programs were available. Or the findings that show that low-income and minority youth are more likely to be in after-school programs and are also more likely to enroll if more programs were available. AA3-social_graphic_demand

America After 3PM also has city-specific data for three urban communities—Washington D.C, New York City and Pittsburgh/Allegheny County, PA. Aside from all being on the east coast, these three communities are quite different in many respects—size, both in terms of population and square miles; industry and workforce; numbers and ethnicity of school-age children, and more. Continue reading

A Celebration of After-School Around the Country

Today is Lights on Afterschool, a nationwide celebration of after-school programs and the critical role they play in the lives of children, families, and communities. After-school programs and communities around the country will be holding carnivals, talent shows, STEM demonstrations, sports tournaments, and arts showcases. Here’s how our partners are celebrating:

•The Providence After School Alliance is hosting a free community forum featuring the noted and highly entertaining neurobiologist Dr. Abigail Baird in a panel discussion with some of PASA’s youth alumni on how adolescent brain development impacts educational success. Tonight, PASA will host a birthday bash commemorating their 10 years of serving the Providence community.

•The Partnership for Children & Youth is bringing Lights On Afterschool to children in affordable housing communities. Children who live in affordable housing communities often face unique challenges to participation in traditional school or community-based after-school and summer programs. PCY’s Housing Cohort members will be holding their own Lights On Afterschool events, featuring students explaining through art (poems, songs, videos, visual art, and essays) why their community is their home. Continue reading

New Measurement Framework Offers a Blueprint for Expanded Learning Systems to Improve and Measure their Progress

Data can be a powerful tool, but only if you know how to use it.

For too long, the expanded learning field has struggled with the complex and elusive process of developing and adopting a common framework for measuring youth outcomes and the program and system practices that may influence them. In a webinar last week, MF graphicwe unveiled a new Measurement Framework, a tool to help communities set goals for their expanded learning systems and to help them assess their progress and make data-driven improvements.

How can the Measurement Framework help you? The Measurement Framework offers practitioners:

•    A clear, simple set of outcomes that reflect priority measures of success for expanded learning systems. The Framework presents eight elements across the youth, program, and system levels that reflect high-priority focus areas for a thriving expanded learning system. Each element has corresponding outcomes designed to show whether systems and programs are functioning well. The Framework provides a description of measurement activities that can accompany each outcome, suggestions for how the data can be used, direction regarding how data on a given outcome may be linked to other levels within the Framework, and evidence on the value of each outcome.

•    Tips for how to use data to drive improvement. Do you collect data but need guidance in how you use it to change practice? The Framework offers “data use goals” for each outcome to help improve the efficiency of your quality improvement and assessment efforts.

•    A handful of social, and emotional “power skills” that are likely to drive student success. Education leaders, practitioners, and researchers are increasingly recognizing the importance of social and emotional skills in driving students’ long-term success. The Framework offers practitioners a variety of tools to evaluate the degree to which students are developing positive youth development skills like persistence and collaboration. Continue reading