As students continue to face the negative effects brought forth by the pandemic, namely learning loss and achievement gaps, district leaders are working to ensure every student has the tools necessary to meet their individual needs. Traditionally, educators encourage students to take advantage of after-school and summer programming. Now, nearly two-thirds of all U.S. public schools are providing after-school programs with an academic focus.
That’s according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics as part of its School Pulse Panel study, a nationally representative survey that observes trends and unique topics school districts across the country are addressing over time.
According to the data, 64% of public schools are offering after-school programs to students this school year. Additionally, the vast majority of these programs are staffed by full-time teachers:
- Academic assistance programs (90%)
- Enrichment programs (80%)
An increased focus has also been placed on summer programming as some 78% of U.S. public schools now offer this resource to students as part of districts’ academic recovery efforts.
“The new data tell an important story about the additional opportunities available to help students beyond the school day, especially at a time when academic recovery from the pandemic remains a top concern,” NCES Commissioner Peggy G. Carr said in a statement.
Fortunately, students aren’t having any trouble accessing these resources, either, as opportunity and cost appear not to be obstacles to student participation. In fact, nearly three-quarters of all public schools that provide these programs said they’re able to offer them to most or all students who want to participate. The majority of schools that leverage these programs do so at no cost to families.
“We are grateful to public school leaders that allow NCES to provide timely insights in the availability of summer and afterschool opportunities,” said Carr.
After-school programming demographics
As the data suggests, these opportunities prove especially beneficial in communities with high-poverty neighborhoods (73%), schools with 1,000 or more students (75%) and those serving a large share of students of color (75%).
Here are some additional findings that paint a picture of the state and characteristics of after-school programming in 2023-24:
- 22% of public school students who have access to these programs are expected to participate this school year, which represents 13% of all public school students in the U.S.
- More than one-third of public schools leveraged district or school finances to fund these programs, while less than one-third used ESSER I or ESSER II funding.
- 42% of public schools offering academic assistance and 48% providing academic enrichment programs do so at least four days a week.