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The role of federal and state policy in addressing early childhood achievement gaps: Parent perceptions and student outcomes related to 21st Century Learning Centers programming in the United States


As policymakers and school communities work to address underlying causes of achievement gaps and access to quality early childhood education, this study considers the use of 21st Century Community Learning Centers to address early childhood education needs on western U.S. state, Idaho. The study sought to understand the relationship between federal and state policies related to out-of-school opportunities to enhance early childhood education. Utilizing data from a statewide evaluation of Idaho’s 21st Century Learning Centers, the study examined 92 centers providing after school, before school, or summer programs in grades preschool through the third grade to predominately at-risk children. Data collection included quantitative data from a survey given to parents (n=183), as well as qualitative data collected through site-based interviews, focus groups and observations. Data included a review of historical and current data on participation rates; attendance rates; standardized test scores for program participants in grades PK-3 (n=3258). Data were analyzed for themes and transfer. The study findings provide further insight into understanding possible relationships between U.S. federal and state policy regarding 21st Century Community Learning Centers on both students’ outcomes and parent satisfaction. The findings further support the role of out-of-school time (OST) experiences in the larger ecosystem of learning and provides insight into understanding how the OST activities are carried over into family life. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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