Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What Afterschool In New York Could Mean for Afterschool Nationwide

In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg launched the citywide Out-of-School Time Initiative in New York City, which grew to serve up to 85,000 students per year. Now, New York City is rolling out new standards for how afterschool student support should be included in school-community partnerships. Lucy Friedman, Founding President of The After-School Corporation (TASC) and member of the Coalition for Science After School Steering Committee, summarizes the findings and explores the implications in today's Huffington Post in an article called "Raising Standards After 3 PM."

What could this mean for the rest of the nation? As Lucy puts it: 

"...the proposed new standards neatly encapsulate what a decade of independent research has told us: that in order to truly benefit kids, after-school program activities should be based on planned and sequenced curricula that support specific learning and developmental goals. Kids should be involved in active, project-based learning, especially middle school students who desperately need to feel like they own their own learning and that learning is relevant to their lives -- otherwise they'll stop attending. Program staff members need to intentionally support the development of kids' social and emotional skills." 

 The new standards create a framework for schools and afterschool programs to work together to reach common goals surrounding student achievement. If successful, this could create a model for other large cities across the country where schools and afterschool programs serve diverse and varied communities. It could also scaled down to support smaller communities, which can also have a great deal of invested partners. Especially in a time of scarce resources, it will be interesting to see if the proposed program--which is designed to lower bureaucratic barriers--increases efficiency without sacrificing high-quality experiences and content in a time of scarce resources.

The proposal is still in its beginning stages--a concept paper has just been released by the New York Department of Youth and Community Development--and it will be interesting to see how it is implemented and developed over the coming school year.

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