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After-school Programs Change Student Minds About STEM

The best STEM-focused after-school programs increase students' enrollment and interest in the subjects and their pursuit of careers in science, technology, engineering, and math later, according to a new report from the Afterschool Alliance, to released Monday.

The Afterschool Alliance will present the report, "STEM Learning in After-School: An Analysis of Impact and Outcomes," at a congressional briefing on Monday at 2:00 p.m. Several speakers will focus on promoting STEM learning for girls, corporate interest in STEM after-school programs, and how to improve students' knowledge base of STEM subjects through after-school programs.

The brief draws conclusions about what makes a high-quality STEM after-school program based on evaluations of programs around the country. The authors stress the importance of improving STEM curricula in after-school programs, as many of the programs provide underserved populations with access to experiences they might not typically have. Given the low percentages of women and minorities in STEM careers, these after-school experiences could heighten awareness and improve these students' attitudes towards STEM subjects, the report suggests.

The highest quality programs have the potential to shift attitudes about STEM-related careers, increase test scores and knowledge of STEM subjects, and improve the likelihood of high school graduation and college readiness.

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