Out-of-School Time Evaluation Snapshot: A Review of Activity Implementation in Out-of-School Time Programs
Little, Priscilla M. D.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project
Out-of-School Time Evaluation Snapshot August 2003, 4 pages
Noting that most evaluations of out-of-school (OST) programs have examined the programs as a whole without taking into account the specific activities offered, this issue of "Out-of-School Time Evaluation Snapshots" surveys the range of activities being implemented in OST settings across the country to better understand and promote effective OST programming. Data from 27 programs were obtained through a national database of profiles of OST program evaluations. Findings indicate that 23 program evaluations reported methods used to collect activity data, with observations conducted by researchers being the most frequent method. About 70 percent of programs offered multiple activities, with 75 percent of single-activity programs focused on academic enrichment. In multicomponent programs, students were often given a choice of activities whereas in single-activity programs, activities were more likely to be mandatory. While the majority of multicomponent programs offered some sort of academic enrichment, many offered arts, sports, and community service. Only a few programs reported the major challenges in implementing activities and identified poor time management, inadequate staff training, lack of resources, and the need to provide snacks. The report concludes by emphasizing that: (1) collecting activity implementation data is a critical first step in evaluation and program improvement for all OST programs; (2) programs need to understand their services to build organizational capacity for self-assessment and program modification; and (3) service documentation is a necessary precursor to determining which aspects of a program lead to positive youth outcomes. Appended is a list of the programs reviewed and a list of additional resources on evaluation OST activities. (KB)