A recent study from North Carolina indicates that an intensive, comprehensive after-school program can provide benefits both in the classroom and beyond and could provide a blueprint for post-Covid educational recovery.

Duke University’s Sarah Komisarow was able to conduct a causal study due to the fact that the oversubscribed StudentU program in Durham, North Carolina, admitted participants by lottery. StudentU is an ambitiously comprehensive program that provides education, nutrition, extracurricular, and social support services to low-income students in the city.

The results indicate that lottery winners accumulated 0.45 more course credits than did lottery losers by the end of ninth grade. But when Komisarow interacted lottery status with baseline achievement, she found that the effects were driven almost entirely by the students with low baseline achievement in fifth grade. That is, the lottery winners who were furthest behind at the start of the program benefitted from it even more than did their higher-achieving fellow winners.  By the end of ninth grade, those with low baseline achievement earned more course credits (0.82 credits), achieved higher GPAs (0.37 grade points) and were less likely to be suspended (17.1 percentage points) during ninth grade than their lottery loser counterparts.

Read the full article about after-school programming by Amber M. Northern and Jeff Murray at The Thomas B. Fordham Institute.