Under-resourced students will have a steep road ahead as they master new Common Core standards. Schools will also face the challenge of finding sufficient resources to deliver higher-level content in effective, engaging ways. Out-of-school-time (OST) programs, particularly those focused on academic performance, could be one way to provide under-resourced students with the additional support they need. However, there is little information available on how OST services can be used to improve academic skills.
Higher Achievement is a year-round, multi-year program that offers 650 hours annually of standards-aligned academic enrichment to students from fifth through eighth grade. During the school year portion of the program, trained volunteers act as mentors to small groups of students and deliver academic support and instruction, making the cost of the program more affordable. An earlier evaluation found that after two years, Higher Achievement had statistically significant positive impacts on both math and reading test scores.
With support from a U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) grant, Higher Achievement is expanding and implementing a new Common Core-aligned afterschool curriculum. MDRC’s evaluation of this effort will test whether cost-effective out-of-school programs, such as Higher Achievement, can help students meet the new Common Core standards.