During the pilot phase, four after-school centers tested the reading materials, and another four centers tested the math materials. These centers were located in Atlanta, Georgia; Anne Arundel County, Maryland; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Norristown, Pennsylvania.
The design for the random assignment study called for a sample of approximately 50 after-school centers in the first implementation year. Twenty-five of these centers used the reading curriculum, and the remaining 25 employed the math curriculum. Within each center, students were randomly assigned to receive the enhanced program or to receive the kind of academic support usually provided by the program. During the second implementation year, 27 of the 50 after-school centers continued to participate in the study.
During the full study phase, data were drawn from a variety of sources. Intake forms and achievement tests administered at intake are used to describe the sample; to compare students in the sample with others in the district, in after-school programs, and in urban schools more generally; and to define subgroups of students on the basis of their pre-random assignment characteristics. Attendance data allow us to examine the intensity of participation in the services under study, while field research, document review, and monitoring reports enable us to understand the nature of the services provided and the fidelity with which the enhanced instruction is delivered. A follow-up survey is being used to describe participation by sample members in other after-school activities that are intended to improve their academic and youth development outcomes. Finally, follow-up achievement tests and surveys are used to estimate differences in student outcomes between the program and control groups.