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Bridging the Gap Between School and Out-Of-School Time Learning

Resource type: Grantee Story

Public and private investment in out-of-school time (OST) programmes in the U.S. has soared over the last decade. While more does not always mean better, Higher Achievement wants to know for sure that its programme is delivering results.

Higher Achievement is an academic enrichment programme that offers four years of intensive, ongoing OST academic support to economically disadvantaged students in grades five through eight. Since 1975, Higher Achievement has challenged more than 10,000 young participants or “scholars” in the Washington, D.C. area. Currently, Higher Achievement serves over 400 students in D.C. and another 50 in Alexandria, Virginia, and it plans to expand to Baltimore by 2009.

Its mission is to increase scholars’ educational and long-term opportunities, and in 2007, 83 per cent of scholars were placed in top high schools. The average GPA of incoming scholars is 2.3, and this year’s graduates boasted an average GPA of 3.8.

The programme’s teachers and mentors nurture scholars in a supportive, fun atmosphere that encourages academic curiosity and achievement. In addition to improving grades and test scores, Higher Achievement offers a uniquely well-rounded experience by providing scholars with positive development opportunities, such as creative arts studios and competitions, including an annual spelling bee and poetry contest.

Higher Achievement’s strategy for success is bridging the gap between school and out-of-school time learning.

“Eighty per cent of the scholars are referred to us by their teachers, and our relationships with the school systems deepen from there,” said Richard Anthony Tagle, Executive Director. “We believe that we can best benefit our young people by preparing them well to go back to school the following fall. Higher Achievement scholars enter the classroom with confidence based on solid preparation.”

Higher Achievement also is committed to rigorous evaluation of its impact on the lives of participants. The evaluation’s findings will offer clarity about the effects of factors such as duration of participation and parental involvement. The data will strengthen policy makers’ and funders’ ability to direct resources to the most valuable approaches and enable practitioners to implement best practices.

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Higher Achievement