Working Together to Support Expanded Learning
The bell rings, signaling the start of afterschool for a half million children in the Central Valley. For too many this time is unsupervised, marked by the risks associated with boredom and unstructured time.
The risky behaviors: bullying, drugs, gangs, alcohol, sexual activity, pornography, crime, suicide, and other self-destructive activities. […]
It is no secret that America ranks near the middle of global science and math achievement standings. For example, the U.S. claims the position of 27 out of 34 countries in science rankings according to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
To further challenge national competitiveness, the American Association for the Advancement of Science reports that 46% of their member scientists feel that K-12 STEM in America is below average.
While American education aggressively rises up to meet the next-generation science challenge, expanded learning programs have relished the opportunity to play an outstanding supporting role. Inspired by this opportunity, a 2009-2014 California study conducted by SRI International sought to identify the frequency of science in afterschool programs, determine inquiry-based practices, assess how instructors are trained, and uncover the extent of social network resources for programming, among other survey components.
A portion of the study results were highlighted earlier this year in the Journal of Expanded Learning Opportunities.
The Afterschool Science Networks Study
Dr. Patrik Lundh, an education researcher for SRI, summarized a portion of the five-year study findings: […]
The facts speak for themselves. According to a 2012 report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education, fact #1: Nationwide, only 52 percent of Black males graduate from high school. Fact #2: Only 58 percent of Latino males graduate from high school nationwide.
Because of these grim statistics, expanded learning programs across the country have been making every effort to support and encourage young men of color with the hope of bridging the gap. And in September 2014, President Obama brought this issue to the forefront when he introduced a new initiative, My Brother’s Keeper (MBK). This initiative is aimed at giving minority men greater support in school and their community.
In the Central Valley, afterschool programs have answered the call to action from the Commander In Chief. At an MBK Town Hall event at the Best of Out of School Time (BOOST) Conference in April, their efforts were highlighted in a series of video vignettes that discussed the positive impact the initiative has had on local students.
“Our Central Valley leaders worked closely together in the production of these vignettes to capture the essence of our field’s power to affect change with at-risk populations,” said Rico Peralta, director of program development at the Central Valley Afterschool Foundation. […]