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Study Shows High Quality After-School Programs Help Children In Poverty

Cori Groth is the associate director of the Utah Education Policy Center. The policy center conducted a study on after-school programs in Utah that were created after the legislature passed a bill in 2014 calling for intergenerational poverty intervention in public schools.

“It’s a combination of targeting academic needs of students as well as providing additional enrichment activities,” Groth said.

These programs were implemented in schools around the state where large numbers of students qualified for free or reduced lunch.

The study showed that students at schools with these after-school programs performed better than predicted on the end of year state tests.

“This is the kind of evidence that our state legislatures and policymakers can use to leverage more resources to support these kinds of programs,” Groth said.

Groth said a typical model for the after-school program includes snacks and about an hour of homework help. Those running the after-school program coordinate with the daytime teachers to provide help that supports the students’ classroom instruction.

The programs also provide activities designed to build the students social skills. This may include art, music or athletics depending on the school.

“High-quality afterschool programs can make a difference for students’ academic success,” Groth said. “That’s an important piece to remember that they can’t just be any kind of afterschool program, they really have to be high quality. Which means that they are intentionally designed to support students’ academic and social, emotional needs as well as providing really high-quality enrichment activities.”