Blog: The Educated Reporter

After-School Programs: What Reporters Need to Know

Students work on an enrichment activity as part of the ChillZone after-school program in Lakewood, New Jersey. (Flickr/Kars4Kids/Creative Commons)

Education reporters spend plenty of time writing about what happens during the regular academic day – but what about the enrichment activities that can benefit students after hours? And how do those extra-curricular opportunities factor into an individual child’s long-term chances of success in school and beyond? 

A good read on this issue comes from Alia Wong of The Atlantic: She took a close look at how the “activity gap” early on can translate into an achievement and opportunity gap for students that persists throughout their academic careers. From The Atlantic’s story:

With all of the challenges plaguing schools today—including those that surround the academic achievement gap between rich and poor students—it may seem frivolous to focus on extracurricular participation. But, as the researchers emphasize, outside experiences have just as much impact on a child’s life as the classroom ones. As researcher Kaisa Snellman, an organizational-behavior professor at the international business school INSEAD, put it, “the point we’re trying to make is that schools affect kids’ lives in multiple ways.” Some datas suggests that involvement in extracurricular activities is just as meaningful as test scores when it comes to subsequent educational attainment and accumulated earnings later in life.  

With many districts looking for better ways to take advantage of public-private partnerships, this is an ideal time to explore after-school programs. A great place to start is EWA’s Topics Page. You’ll get useful background, the latest research, and even questions to ask as you dig deeper into these kinds of opportunities in your own community. We also have Topics Pages on a wide variety of education issues from preschool through high school as well as higher education