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Out-of-School Time Cited as Strategy for School Turnaround

Out-of-school-time programs were listed as a turnaround strategy in 70 percent of the school improvement plans for 1,400 underperforming schools in several Midwestern states, a new report says.

Researchers at the Midwest Regional Educational Laboratory Program, supported by the federal Department of Education examined improvement plans from Title I schools in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio. They found 980 of them listed before-school, after-school, and summer programs as a means to improve school performance. Roughly 90 percent also listed increased parent involvement as a goal to help student achievement.

The federal government requires schools to submit plans that outline strategies for improvement if they do not meet their adequate yearly progress achievement targets for two years in a row, per mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act. The AYP measures are based on student standardized-test scores in core subjects.

While the majority of the schools profiled in the report listed extended-learning programs as a strategy for better performance, very few of those programs seemed to have an academic component, the report says. Only an average of 20 percent of the states' after-school programs and 5 percent of the summer programs were said to offer tutoring or other academic assistance. Most of the extended-learning programs described in the improvement plans were run by the school or district itself, not outside providers. Other program factors, such as curricula, alignment to the school day, and staffing were not mentioned.

The REL labs perform education-related research at regional centers to help inform state and regional education policy decisions.

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