Linkages Between Day and Afterschool

A quality program has its staff work closely with school staff to ensure that afterschool academic components and activities are aligned with and enrich school standards and curricula. A quality program works with the school(s) attended by program participants to share information about young people’s needs and progress, to assign staff roles, and to coordinate use of space and other resources. A program that is linked to the school day allows program staff and school leaders to establish regular mechanisms for ongoing communication and coordination. In a true partnership, schools and afterschool programs share the responsibility for young people’s educational, social, and emotional development and work collaboratively to improve outcomes for youth. As a result, schools and afterschool programs complement one another.

Indicators & Performance Levels

(Click on the indicator to expand the performance level examples, or download the full set of indicators and performance levels here.)

A quality program:

Performance Levels
Rate your program in each of the indicators using the following system:

1 Must Address and Improve / Standards Not Met
2 Some Progress Made / Approaching Standard
3 Satisfactory / Meets Standards
4 Excellent / Exceeds Standards

Organizations are expected to strive for a satisfactory performance level (3) on all of the quality indicators.

Over time, programs should continue to strive for an excellent performance level (4).

1. Secures commitment of resources (e.g., classroom space, bulletin boards, storage space, computer facilities, and site coordinator’s office) from school principal, when possible.

Performance Level 1
When sharing resources with a school, staff members sometimes lose use of resources with little or no notice when school needs arise.

Performance Level 2
The program has an informal agreement with school(s) for use of resources. Staff members sometimes lose use of resources when school needs arise with little or no notice. The school tends to be apologetic; however, it is acknowledged it could happen again.

Performance Level 3
The school(s) and afterschool program have a formal written and negotiated agreement signed by the principal and site director regarding the commitment of resources. The agreed upon components are communicated to the school staff and program staff at the beginning of the year and at several times throughout the year. Regular communication occurs and problems are immediately addressed to ensure that both school day and afterschool resource needs are met to best support the participants learning and success.

Performance Level 4
The school(s) and afterschool program have a formal written and negotiated agreement signed by the principal and site director regarding the commitment of resources. The agreed upon components are communicated to the school staff and program staff at the beginning of the year and at several times throughout the year. The school staff and program staff work together respectfully to support their unique and shared needs and to ensure all property is cared for and treated with respect for its shared use. Regular communication occurs and problems are immediately addressed to ensure that both school day and afterschool resource needs are met to best support the participants learning and success.

2. Maintains communication with school principal and administration.

Performance Level 1
The site director and principal(s) of the schools attended by program participants have not met or had a meaningful conversation.

Performance Level 2
The site director and principal(s) of the schools attended by program participants meet at the beginning of the year. Communication is random and mainly focuses on or occurs when there are problems.

Performance Level 3
The site director and principal(s) of the schools attended by program participants regularly communicate through conversations, meetings, and writing to ensure that the school day and afterschool program run smoothly and succeed in meeting their goals.

Performance Level 4
The site director and staff and principal(s) of the schools attended by program participants and other school staff members regularly communicate through conversations, meetings, and writing to ensure that the school day and afterschool program run smoothly and succeed in meeting their goals. The principal and/or school staff assist with program planning and decision-making and the site director and/or program staff participate in school meetings, decision-making, and planning to ensure both partners work together to meet individual and shared goals for youth and families.

3. Establishes strong links to the school day.

Performance Level 1
The program works independently of the school day. Staff members are not aware of school goals and plans, academic performance standards, and how program activities can be used as a vehicle to support academic growth.

Performance Level 2
A few of the staff members have taken it upon themselves to meet with school personnel to discuss how they can support each other. The majority of staff members do not have a clear understanding of school goals and how to support academic achievement. Staff members help young people with homework as best as they can.

Performance Level 3
Meetings between school and afterschool staff happen frequently to discuss how student learning and overall success can be supported through afterschool activities and experiences. School and program staff members frequently communicate and share learnings, progress, challenges, supports, and needs. The afterschool program has a system for referring youth and families to tutorial services and other academic enrichment opportunities.

Performance Level 4
Key school personnel and afterschool staff sit on each others’ leadership committees and participate in planning meetings. School and program staff members share their missions and goals and identify common objectives and shared and unique ways to support the achievement of both. School and program staff members frequently and regularly communicate and share learnings, progress, challenges, supports, and needs. The school and afterschool staff identify, plan, and participate in joint professional development.

4. Incorporates programming that integrates and complements school day activities.

Performance Level 1
The program has separate and independent goals and activities.

Performance Level 2
The program has independent goals and activities that sometimes complement school day learning and activities.

Performance Level 3
Program and school staff members work together to understand the mission, goals, and approaches to learning of each and work together to integrate and complement learning for youth. Program and school staff members share data to identify youth strengths and needs and work together to support youth.

Performance Level 4
Program and school staff members work together to understand the mission, goals, and approaches to learning of each organization and work together to integrate and complement learning for youth. Program and school staff members share data to identify youth strengths and needs, and work collaboratively to decide what learning can and should be integrated and how afterschool can effectively enhance school day learnings. Examples of this partnership are evident because the program provides authentic opportunities to learn about and practice knowledge and skills in real life situations, such as practicing critical math skills integrated into project-based learning or improving language arts skills through writing advocacy letters about areas of interest to students to newspapers.

5. Collaborates regularly with school-day personnel regarding use of facilities and resources.

Performance Level 1
Program and school staff members do not communicate about facilities and resources.

Performance Level 2
Program and school staff members decide on use of facilities and resources at the beginning of the year and then communicate about problem areas.

Performance Level 3
Program and school staff members communicate and plan together regarding facility use and resources at the beginning of the year and a few times throughout the year.

Performance Level 4
Program and school staff members communicate and plan together regarding facility use and resources at the beginning of the year and at regular intervals throughout the year. Day to day communication occurs and both work together to ensure optimal use of facilities and needs to achieve the shared and unique goals of both organizations.

6. Supports state and local performance standards and benchmarks.

Performance Level 1
The site director and staff members are unaware of state and local performance standards and benchmarks or do not understand or believe that there is a role for the program in helping youth reach the standards. Program activities are not planned in consideration of state and local standards.

Performance Level 2
The site director is aware of state and local performance standards and benchmarks. These standards are considered when program activities are planned. However, the program activities only sometimes support the standards.

Performance Level 3
The site director and some staff members are aware of state and local performance standards and benchmarks. These standards are considered when program activities are planned. School teachers are consulted during the program planning process. Many of the standards are supported by a set of program activities available to participants.

Performance Level 4
The site director and all staff members are aware of state and local performance standards and benchmarks. These standards guide the development of some program activities. School day teachers are included as regular members of the program planning team and related processes. Most of the standards are supported by program activities available to participants.

7. Communicates with school-day staff to monitor academic and behavioral progress of students.

Performance Level 1
Program and school staff members operate independently and do not share participants’ academic and behavioral progress information.

Performance Level 2
Program staff members communicate individually with school staff members around participants who are having academic or behavioral problems.

Performance Level 3
Program and school staff members regularly communicate to share the academic and behavioral strengths, growth, and challenges of participants. Discussions and information-sharing focuses on supporting the child’s achievement and related positive behaviors and strategies that are promising, working, or need to be changed to best assist the child.

Performance Level 4
Formal and informal structures are in place between the school and program for program and school staff to regularly communicate in multiple ways and share the academic and behavioral strengths, growth, and challenges of participants. Ongoing discussions and information-sharing focuses on supporting the child’s achievement and related positive behaviors and includes strategies that are promising, working, or need to be changed to best assist the child. The participant and their family member(s) are often part of the conversations with all partners working together to support the participant’s growth and success.

8. Allocates sufficient program time for homework and homework help.

Performance Level 1
The program does not offer homework help as a regular part of the schedule. Homework help is only available if participants ask for it.

Performance Level 2
The program offers homework help, but not on a daily basis. Additional homework help is available if participants ask for it.

Performance Level 3
A portion of each day’s schedule is dedicated to homework help. Additional homework help time may be added if participants ask for it.

Performance Level 4
A portion of each day’s schedule is dedicated to homework help with staff members and teacher supports as needed. Additional homework help time may be added if participants ask for it or if staff members recognize a need for it.

9. Is represented on the school’s curriculum planning committee.

Performance Level 1
The program is not currently represented in local schools’ planning efforts.

Performance Level 2
The program is not currently represented in local schools’ planning efforts, but planning committee members from program participants’ schools sometimes report back to staff members with planning updates.

Performance Level 3
The program is represented in the planning efforts of the local schools attended by participants. The program representative shares information about afterschool curricula, teaching methods, and policies with the schools. Because of this, the program has relationships with school representatives.

Performance Level 4
The program has a regular representative in the planning efforts of the local schools attended by participants. The program representative shares information about afterschool curricula, teaching methods, and policies with the schools. The program representative works with the schools to find action steps that they can take to support student learning and needs. The schools often acknowledge the value of sharing information about school curricula and learning more about afterschool curricula and collaborating for student achievement.

Taking Action, Suggested Stakeholders, Try This!, and Tips for Success

RIGHT NOW: ADDRESSED WITHIN THE FIRST 30-60 DAYS OF ASSESSMENT.
The afterschool director meets with local principals to discuss school learning goals and opportunities for collaborations. A follow-up meeting with staff is set up to discuss how the program currently supports learning. An action plan is created to strengthen those efforts and explore new ways of creating continuity between the school day and afterschool. A system of communication is established with the school administration and the afterschool program staff.

THIS YEAR: ADDRESSED BY THE END OF THE PROGRAM YEAR.
Staff attend trainings on teaching strategies used by educators in their school district. Afterschool staff meet as a team on a quarterly basis to share enrichment curriculum that can be used in the program. The director and local principals meet on a regular basis. Program staff routinely check-in with youth about what they are learning and which topics they would like additional assistance with.

NEXT YEAR: ADDRESSED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW PROGRAM YEAR.
A joint staff retreat is planned to identify learning goals, outline program curriculum, and identify shared resources and professional development opportunities. The afterschool program director is invited to join the leadership team at local schools. The afterschool program goals are outlined in schools’ comprehensive educational plans. Program staff maintain open lines of communication with teachers to discuss young people’s progress, share successes, and review remaining academic.

The following stakeholder groups may be appropriate to involve in surveys and focus group discussions around this element:

  • Program Administrators
  • Program Staff
  • Program Participants
  • Parents
  • School Teachers
  • School Guidance Counselors
  • School Principals
  • Staff of Partner Programs
  • Other

Create a Homework Resource Center

As an afterschool program, you may have the task of helping young people complete their homework. You can do more than simply help them complete assignments by presenting school material in new and different ways. Through individualized tutoring or recreational, arts, or community service projects, you can change their attitudes about learning. There are many innovative ways to integrate literacy and other academic skill development into afterschool projects and activities. The following provides ideas and tips to help you successfully integrate homework help into your program and get kids excited about learning:

  • Try to create a designated space for homework and tutoring. The space should be comfortable and well lit.
  • Set up peer tutoring pairs.
  • Make allowances for different learning styles. Some learners might need a space that is completely quiet to complete their homework; others may prefer to work in small groups.
  • Provide materials and supplies needed to successfully complete homework such as paper, pencils, dictionaries, erasers, etc.
  • Prepare engaging learning games for young people who complete their homework early or do not have any assignments.
  • Create a homework sign-off log to let staff and parents know when a young person’s homework has been reviewed.

As part of efforts to link their afterschool program with the school day, the staff at Inwood House, a community-based organization, has started utilizing the New York City Department of Education’s student pacing calendar as a tool for program planning. The pacing calendar outlines topics and skills to be developed per grade. For example, if the content topic is pollution, the afterschool program might have youth develop a talk show, skit, or cartoon to address and explore the issue of pollution in their communities. The tips below are based on the lessons learned by Inwood House as they used the pacing calendar:  For Inwood House, using the pacing calendar has resulted in stronger communication with schools and increased connections to the school day.

  • Have the program leadership meet with the principal or assistant principal to coordinate logistics.
  • Provide training for staff on academic learning standards and goals, including the pacing calendar.
  • If possible, compensate staff for planning time.
  • Share your program plans with school staff.
  • Meet with staff periodically to capture what is working and what needs improvement.

Research, Tools and Templates, and Resources