Illinois Quality Afterschool Resource Bulletin

Summer 2019

The Illinois Quality Afterschool team at American Institutes for Research has compiled this list of resources to help you and your staff provide high-quality 21st CCLC programming. This Resource Bulletin brings you the latest information on afterschool research, best practices, tools, conference proceedings, policy briefs, professional development tools, and activities. We hope you will share this list of resources with your staff.

Program Management

Afterschool Programs: A Review of Evidence Under the Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) encourages and sometimes requires that states and other entities that apply for its various funding streams, including expanded learning programs, establish that their programs are backed by strong evidence of effectiveness. This report from the Wallace Foundation provides a review of research from 2000 to 2017, finding 124 afterschool programs with evidence that meets the research requirements of ESSA’s top three tiers. Of these programs, half—62—showed positive impacts on students.

Using Data to Strengthen Afterschool Planning, Management, and Strategy: Lessons from Eight Cities

Many cities are coordinating afterschool programming through coalitions to ensure that programs are cohesive, high quality, and accessible to all who want to participate. A new report from the Wallace Foundation describes lessons learned from a study of afterschool data systems used by coalitions across public, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors. Recommendations include having a systems-level focus, including shared goals and outcomes; agreeing on indicators that signal progress; and understanding local circumstances, context, and expertise.

Leadership Connections Across the Generations

Many afterschool programs are led by multigenerational teams. This blog post from the National AfterSchool Association offers suggestions for building connections among members of multigenerational teams. The ideas are offered under the theme of “See them, hear them, include them,” and include both strategies and real-world examples.

Diverse Learners

A Snapshot of Rural Afterschool in America

Rural areas face unique challenges: their populations are declining, disparate, aging, and highly migratory. However, rural areas also offer unique strengths, such as community resources like 4-H and STEM activities connected to agriculture and other rural industries. A new briefing paper from the National Conference of State Legislatures provides an overview of afterschool programs in rural areas. The paper lists challenges, examples of state policy initiatives, highlights from rural afterschool programs, and ideas for actions that state legislatures can take.

Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Video

According to the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), nearly 3.5 million children are subject to at least one maltreatment report, such as physical, sexual, and emotional/psychological abuse. Youth are often placed in foster care because of abuse, and youth in foster care are more likely to be victims of sex trafficking. To help stakeholders understand the intersection of child abuse, foster care, and sex trafficking, AYPF has created a video about child abuse prevention awareness. The video is available on the AYPF website with links to resources. The video is also available on the AYPF YouTube channel.

Social and Emotional Learning

Teens Want Schools That Nurture Their Social and Emotional Development

Today’s youth face numerous challenges, but many are also passionate about their communities and their futures, and have a unique perspective on the role of education in their day-to-day lives. This article from ASCD Express discusses findings from a CASEL report on youth perspectives about high school and social and emotional learning (SEL). The study found that students believe that there are benefits to attending a high school that promotes SEL, but felt that there were also ways that high schools could improve their current SEL offerings.

Afterschool Enrichment

Looking at the Impact of Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning offers an interactive way for students to master skills and engage in their community. This article in The Hechinger Report summarizes some of the data related to one school’s work in project-based learning. School leaders found that students who participated in project-based learning were more engaged and made more interdisciplinary connections than peers who did not participate in project-based learning. They also found that these students performed as well on the state math test as their peers and outperformed them in English language arts.

What to Do When a Project Fails

Although project-based learning provides an engaging way for students to learn, projects don’t always go as planned. This article from Edutopia describes what happens when a project doesn’t go as planned. Stressing the importance of reflection, benchmarks, and persistence, the authors point out that students can still master content when a project fails. They also stress that teachers can learn something too from these experiences.

Strategies to Create a Community in Your Classroom

Having a cohesive community can create a positive educational environment, but it doesn’t always happen naturally. This article from PBS Teachers Lounge outlines 10 ways that educators can build classroom community. Ideas include asking students to define community, providing opportunities for students to share their feelings, and inviting members from the broader community to engage with students.

Building Financial Literacy

Learning how to manage money to make smart saving and spending decisions is a critical skill. Yet many people don’t know enough to be financially stable. This Click & Go Training from the U.S. Department of Education’s You for Youth website provides financial literacy lessons and activities for both adults and youth. In addition to lessons for different audiences and ages, the training has handouts for key terms, planning activities across age groups, engaging families, aligning with standards, and working with partners.

7 Ways to Spark Engagement

Helping students feel connected to their own learning can boost engagement and achievement. This article from Edutopia outlines simple practices that educators can integrate into instruction to spark students’ curiosity and strengthen engagement. Strategies include asking more in-depth questions, introducing controversy, and encouraging collaboration.

Connecting Students to the World Through Food Studies

Food offers a way for students to engage in interdisciplinary learning, with topics ranging from the history of trade, the science of how food is grown, and the cultural role of food. This blog post from Education Week describes how one middle school explored the question: “What can we learn about the world by looking at our food?” The blog post lists a range of activities that the students completed and also links to several books and resources that educators can use.

Food Deserts

Food deserts are areas in the United States where it is difficult to access affordable or good-quality fresh food, a phenomenon that can contribute to obesity and other diet-related illnesses. Food Deserts: Causes, Consequences and Solutions, a lesson from Teaching Tolerance, helps students learn more about the causes, consequences, and locations of food deserts. In addition to determining whether their community is in a food desert, students have the opportunity to design solutions to this challenge. This interdisciplinary lesson can serve students in middle school and high school and touches on areas of social studies, economics, and science and health.

25 Creative Ways to Ask Students About Their Day

Have you ever asked students about their day and heard “fine” or received a shoulder shrug in response? This article from the National AfterSchool Association stresses the importance of engaging in dialogue about student experiences (despite what appears to be a lack of student interest). The article also lists 25 different ways that educators can ask youth about their day.

Academic Enrichment

Reading Aloud to Middle School Students

Read alouds aren’t just for young children. This article from Edutopia describes one educator’s positive experience reading out loud to middle school students. The article explains how the practice reinforces skills and sparks interest in reading. It also lists some reading practices that educators can model when reading to their middle school students.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Goddard Space Flight Center at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a suite of resources for educators. There are activities for both formal and informal educators, which means there is something for everyone, regardless of how much science or instructional experience you have. For educators who want to let youth take the lead, there are also activities for “amateur astronomers.”

Smithsonian Game Center

The Smithsonian Science Education Center has several interactive online games that help students reinforce science concepts. The games are tagged by grade level and aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. They also provide opportunities for students to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are important to science education.


History of Afterschool in America

The How Kids Learn Foundation has created a documentary on the history of afterschool programs in the United States since the 1800s. The film provides useful background to help expanded learning stakeholders understand the historic need for these programs and how they have supported youth and communities through the decades. The one-hour documentary can be viewed for free on the How Kids Learn Foundation website. There is also a learning guide and trailer for the documentary.

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Copyright ©2019 by American Institutes for Research. This publication was developed by AIR in 2019 and was funded by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) with support by the U.S. Department of Education. The content does not necessarily reflect the views of the AIR or any other source. This publication is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce and disseminate it in whole or in part is granted as long as appropriate acknowledgment is given.