February 26, 2014
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils New Standards for High-Quality After School Programs
SACRAMENTO—Far from being lost time, the hours after school and during summer can be opportunities for students to build on what they learn in the classroom, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said today as he released a new set of standards that define expectations for California's high-quality expanded learning programs.
Expanded learning refers to summer, intersession, and before and after school programs. Research on expanded learning programs shows a positive effect on student attendance at school, reduced high school dropout rates, reduced juvenile crime, and increased academic success for students. Shortly after taking office in 2011, Torlakson created an After School Division at the California Department of Education charged with improving and expanding these learning opportunities for students.
"Californians have always led the way in seeing the value of expanded learning and being willing to invest in giving our young people every opportunity to succeed," Torlakson said. "When I created the After School Division, it was to build on that support and momentum, in part by looking at the best programs and working to identify the keys to their success and replicate it."
The CDE After School Division worked with the California Afterschool Network, a coalition of experts and providers funded by foundations, to bring together a "Work Group on Quality Standards" through a competitive application process. Through research and feedback from stakeholders, the work group developed 12 standards for expanded learning programs. The full list of standards, along with additional information on their development and next steps, can be found on the California Afterschool Network [http://www.afterschoolnetwork.org/post/quality-standards-expanded-learning-programs] Web site.
- Youth voice and leadership (providing young people a meaningful role in program design and implementation, with ongoing access to leadership roles).
- Skill building (maintaining high expectations for all students, intentionally linking program goals, curricula, and activities with 21st-century skills).
- Sustainability (building lasting partnerships with the community and securing commitments for in-kind and monetary contributions).
Moving forward, these standards can be used to inform the After School Division's decision-making, such as in requests for applications; to guide program providers in assessing their own programs; or to help parents and students identify and choose good programs.
California's expanding learning programs reach about 4,400 schools around the state. They are in large part funded through voter-approved Proposition 49, which guarantees $550 million annually for the state's After School Education and Safety Program—more than all other states' spending combined. California administers another $120 million in federal after school program funds. Legislation Torlakson authored in the California State Assembly and Senate led to the creation and expansion of these programs.
"California's expanded learning programs are an integral part of young people's education, engaging them in year-round learning opportunities that prepare them for college, career, and life," Torlakson said.
For more information on the CDE After School Division, please visit A Vision for Expanded Learning in California – Strategic Plan: 2014-2016 (PDF; 2MB).