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The Facts About Expanded Learning

Washington State faces a widening Achievement Gap. Students of color and low-income students are less likely to meet grade level standards and graduate at lower rates than their white and middle to higher income peers. Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs) are high-quality afterschool and youth development programs that provide innovative, hands-on learning and strive to be a part of the solution to the opportunity gap.  

No single learning setting will prepare students for success; rather, an integrated approach to learning across the day, across the year, and across a student’s lifetime is required for 21st century academic and career success.

Washington Parents Support Afterschool Programs1

83% support public funding for afterschool programs. 75% agree that afterschool programs help give working  parents peace of mind about their children during work. 69% agree that afterschool programs help parents keep their jobs.

What's Available at Afterschool Programs? 1

Opportunities for physical activity: 85% - Opportunities for reading or writing: 70% - Beverages, snacks and/or meals: 67% - Academic programs/clubs: 64% - STEM learning opportunities: 62%

Academic Improvement

  • Improved test scores2
  • Improved school grades3
  • Improved school attendance3
  • Increased engagement in learning4
  • Lower dropout rates5

Decreases Juvenile Crime 6

The hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. represent peak hours in juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, sex, and other risky behaviors.

Our recommendations

  1. Increase federal, state, and local support for expanded learning programs.

  2. Utilize the Washington State Quality Standards for Afterschool & Youth Development Programs to provide guidelines for what quality should look like in a program setting.

  3. Continue to build partnerships between districts, schools, and expanded learning programs both housed in schools and in community-based organizations.

  1. Afterschool Alliance: Afterschool Programs in Demand (2014). America After 3pm.
  2. Goldschmidt, Huang, & Chinen, 2007; Huang, Gribbons, Kim, Lee, & Baker, 2000; Huang, Leon, Harven, La Torre, & Mostafavi, 2009; Huang, Leon, & La Torre, 2011; Huang, Leon, La Torre, & Mostafavi, 2008.
  3. Huang et al., 2011.
  4. Huang et al., 2007a; Huang et al., 2000.
  5. Huang, Kim, Marshall, & Perez, 2005.
  6. Newman, S.A., et al. America’s After-School Choice: The Prime Time for Juvenile Crime, or Youth Enrichment and Achievement. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, Washington D.C., 2002.

Summer Learning Equally Critical

Every Summer, Washington students lose critical academic skills. The body of research on summer learning loss  reveals that young people are falling behind in school at different rates. This research attributes more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth to unequal access to summer learning opportunities. According to a report by the RAND Corporation, students who attend high-quality summer learning programs have positive academic and behavioral outcomes. Washington State must address summer learning loss to tackle the opportunity gap and support all students in achieving school success. 1,2

The growing Gap: The Acheivement gap between children from high and low-income families is 30-40% larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier in 1971; The Summer slie revents school-year performancein a cumulative and disproportionate way that contributes to the growing achievement gap between low, middle, and high income students

Of Washington students eligible for free/reduced lunch 3

Only 23% are reading proficiently by the end of 4th grade. Only 30% are meeting proficiency in mathematics by the end of 4th grade. Only 25% are meeting proficiency in reading or in mathematics by the end  of 8th grade.

What Makes A Program High-Quality?1

What makes a program high-quality? 5-6 consecutive weeks; 3-4 hours of academic content each day; higher staff to student ratio;hands-on experiential learning; curriculum that is specific to summer. The effects of summer learning programs can endure for at least two years after the program.

Our Recommendations

  1. Address issues of accessibility to high quality summer programs for low income youth.

  2. Utilize high-quality summer learning programs as an essential component of school reform and improvement.

  3. Improve partnerships and coordination between schools, community based organizations, businesses and other stakeholders to leverage resources at the local level to support summer programs.

  1. Sloan McCombs, J., Augustine, C., Schwartz, H., Bodilly, S., McInnis, B., Lichter, D., Cross, A.B. (2011). Making summer count how summer programs can boost children’s learning. RAND Corporation.
  2. Alexander, K., Entwisle, D., and Olson, L. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review, 72, 167-180.
  3. Lander, M., & Myslinski, D. J. (2014). Report card on American Education. 19th Edition. ALEC.
  4. Reardon, S. F. (2011). “The widening academic achievement gap between the rich and the poor: New evidence and possible explanations.” In G. J. Duncan & R. J. Murnane (Eds.), Whither opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances. (pp. 91-116). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Download and share

This fact sheet is available as a printable PDF! Print and share with parents, supporters, and policy makers to share the importance of your program in your community.