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New standards unveiled for after school programs

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released a new set of standards that define expectations for California's high-quality expanded learning programs.

"Californians have always led the way in seeing the value of expanded learning and being willing to invest in giving our young people every opportunity to succeed," Torlakson said in a press release. "When I created the After School Division, it was to build on that support and momentum, in part by looking at the best programs and working to identify the keys to their success and replicate it."

Expanded learning refers to summer, intersession, and before and after school programs. Research on expanded learning programs shows a positive effect on student attendance at school, reduced high school dropout rates, reduced juvenile crime, and increased academic success for students.

Shortly after taking office in 2011, Torlakson created an After School Division at the California Department of Education charged with improving and expanding these learning opportunities for students. The division worked with the California Afterschool Network, a coalition of experts and providers funded by foundations, to bring together a "Work Group on Quality Standards" through a competitive application process.

Through research and feedback from stakeholders, the work group developed 12 standards for expanded learning programs.

Examples include:

  • Youth voice and leadership (providing young people a meaningful role in program design and implementation, with ongoing access to leadership roles).
  • Skill building (maintaining high expectations for all students, intentionally linking program goals, curricula, and activities with 21st-century skills).
  • Sustainability (building lasting partnerships with the community and securing commitments for in-kind and monetary contributions).

The full 12 standards can be viewed here.

These standards can be used to inform the After School Division's decision-making, to guide program providers in assessing their own programs, or to help parents and students identify and choose good programs.

Click here to view the full report.