Afterschool Programs Support Common Core Implementation

An Issue Brief from School's Out Washington

Students work together (Mike Cerrillo/Flickr)
(Mike Cerrillo/Flickr)

This issue brief is intended for policymakers.

By Danielle Baer, Communications and Resource Development Director; Emily Emerson, Statewide Training Manager; and Shannon Robinson, Bridge Conference and Events Coordinator for School’s Out Washington

Afterschool and youth development (AYD) programs have a stake in the impact of Common Core State Standards implementation on everyday practice. Children and youth spend only 20 percent of their waking hours in school. How they spend the remaining 80 percent of their time has a significant impact on their success and well-being. Over a decade of research and evaluation shows that high-quality afterschool and youth development programs can make a difference and are directly linked to youth achievement of positive social, emotional, health, and academic gains.

Despite controversy and ample news coverage of the Common Core, many people are still unaware of what the standards are and what they mean for students. According to the Forum for Youth Investment, school districts are already overwhelmed with implementation of the Common Core, so AYD field partners can offer support in a meaningful and informed way that does not add burden to already overtaxed districts.

In addition to providing experiential practice in math and English language arts, the AYD field has long supported the development of the Habits of Mind, also called 21st-century skills, which encompass a range of skills that are critical in preparing young people for college and career readiness, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and global understanding. These types of skills are included in the Common Core State Standards’ mathematical practices and English language arts capacities. Focusing on the Habits of Mind and 21st-century skills is a youth development approach which research shows can effectively increase the academic skills equired of the Common Core.

Here are some strategies AYD providers can use to support Common Core implementation:

  • Educate parents on Common Core and why these standards were created. Give our afterschool issue brief, “Building Washington Youth’s 21st Century Skills for Success” (see additional download links on this page), to parents as a takeaway to support this process. Find other parent outreach materials here.
  • Use the issue brief in an afterschool program staff meeting to enhance staff awareness of the Common Core and the specific ways AYD programs can support student success.
  • Plan afterschool activities that intentionally link to school-day curriculum and incorporate Habits of Mind skills.
  • Engage in program quality improvement efforts utilizing research-based tools proven to support programs with increasing positive staff-youth interaction and improving program outcomes.
  • Provide school leadership and teachers with more knowledge and ideas around the importance of community partnerships in supporting implementation of the Common Core.
  • Collaborate with school personnel for joint professional development efforts aligned with the Common Core.
  • Inform local funders of the role of AYD in supporting students, particularly around the Common Core.

As more people working with youth become informed of the Common Core and how implementation impacts students both in and out of school, these tips, resources, and tools can help AYD programs communicate their role as a partner in addressing the achievement gap while providing fun, enriching, and engaging activities.

This issue brief was developed with the support of the Center for Global Education at Asia Society.

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