Publications & Resources

A Circle of Learning: Children and Adults Growing Together in LA’s BEST

May 2009

Denise Huang, Deborah La Torre, Nikki Duong, Lindsay Perez Huber, Seth Leon and Christine Oh

Afterschool programs offer an important avenue for enhancing educational opportunities. Federal, state, and local educational authorities increasingly see them as environments to improve attitudes toward school, achievement, and academic performance (Fashola, 2002; Hollister, 2003) with higher levels of student participation and engagement in these programs correlated to even greater improvements (Huang, Leon, La Torre, & Mostafavi, 2008; Mahoney, Lord, & Carryl, 2005). This is particularly true among low-performing, underserved, or at-risk students who can benefit greatly from additional academic help and social support (Afterschool Alliance, 2003; Muñoz, 2002). However, not all programs are equally effective, and no program can be effective if students only attend sporadically (Granger & Kane, 2004). Research has suggested that student engagement in afterschool programs—as indicated by their sense of belonging to and their interest in the programs—may be an important contributor to the program’s influence on their achievement, behaviors (Arbreton et al., 2008), and regular attendance (Finn, 1992). Consequently, federal, state, and private organizations including the Verizon Foundation have provided ample financial support to afterschool programs in recent years.

Huang, D., La Torre, D., Duong, N., Perez Huber, L., Leon, S., & Oh, C. (2009). A circle of learning: Children and adults growing together in LA’s BEST (CRESST Report 758). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).