Putting Education Reform To The Test

How A Florida Program Is Fighting Learning Loss

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We’ve heard about how kids tend to forget a lot of what they learn in school when they’re away from the classroom for a few months.

But a Florida program is making sure learning doesn’t stop just because kids are out of class.

A new report shows how afterschool and summer programs in Florida can be effective at improving student success.

The report focuses on the hundreds of 21st Century Community Learning Centers in Florida.  These centers are part of the federal “No Child Left Behind” Act. They provide expanded learning opportunities for children that attend high poverty and low performing schools.

The activities are designed to help students meet or exceed academic standards in reading, math and other subjects.

Florida’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers use these four elements:

  • Fun – students should be interested and enjoy the experience.
  • Hands on – students should physically participate in activities.
  • Engaged learning – students should be mentally engaged in activities.
  • Tie-in – connecting regular classroom learning with afterschool activities makes them more memorable.

Florida’s program serves 80,000 students and their families.  Data from Learning Points Associates, a national research firm, shows:

  • 78 percent of 21st Century Community Learning Center students statewide either maintained or showed growth in math. 79 percent maintained or showed growth in reading.
  • 75 percent of Florida students did a better job of turning in homework on time.
  • 80 percent of students demonstrated an increase in class participation.

“The outcomes we have seen for our students are impressive, and the time we utilized after the school day was the key to our success,” said Joe Davis, Chief Operating Officer of the Florida Afterschool Network and one of the report’s authors. “We wanted to share what we’ve learned so that more communities – both in Florida and throughout the country – could reap the benefits of effective afterschool programs and strong school-community partnerships.”

The report, released by the Expanded Learning and Afterschool Project, concludes that afterschool time can be a valuable tool in educating children. The authors say Florida’s next step is to show state and national leaders the success of the learning centers and to advocate for afterschool opportunities for more children.


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