Roughly 221,000 additional Oregon students would like to be in afterschool programs, according to new report
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Oregon students face an opportunity gap, House Majority Leader Rep. Barbara Smith Warner said during a news conference for the release of a report on state afterschool and summer learning programs.(Photo by Jake Arnold, OSBA)
More than 91,000 Oregon children participate in afterschool programs but another 221,000 would participate if more opportunities were available, according to a report released Wednesday.
Afterschool and summer learning programs, particularly in partnership with other organizations, offer school districts a cost-effective, community-targeted means to create diverse and inclusive educational opportunities.
House Majority Leader Rep. Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland, said afterschool and summer learning programs closely align with the goals of the Student Success Act. Smith Warner, a strong advocate for summer learning, was co-chair of the committee that created the 2019 law promising roughly $1 billion a year for preK-12 public education.
The law emphasizes spending that addresses equity issues for historically underserved populations and programs that increase instructional time and add to a well-rounded education.
Smith Warner said this report highlights the need to address the opportunity gap.
Oregon After School For Kids spent two years researching “State of Access and Equity of Afterschool and Summer Learning Programs in Oregon.” The report offers Oregon-specific recommendations for increased afterschool program access. The report also mapped more than 1,200 programs in the state with data about their operations and their limitations.
High-quality afterschool programs lengthen the school day for students while teaching academic and social skills and offering healthy recreation and safe spaces. These enrichment programs help close opportunity and achievement gaps, but many students who would most benefit face barriers such as cost, a lack of programs, transportation and cultural issues.
“These barriers are disproportionately impacting Oregon’s underserved communities,” said OregonASK Research Manager Katie Lakey. Students from historically underserved communities were least likely to be able to participate in afterschool programs, according to the report.
National research by the Afterschool Alliance shows that by sixth grade, middle class students have spent upward of 4,000 more hours in afterschool and summer learning opportunities than low-income students.
OregonASK, a public-private organization collaboration, provides guidance and training for setting up afterschool and summer learning programs. It is dedicated to expanded learning opportunities for all children.
The Oregon ASK report’s conclusions were summed up in two key recommendations:
At a state policy level, address the high cost and limited availability of afterschool programs.
Address cultural barriers at the individual program and statewide level and coordinate across agencies strategies for diversity, equity and inclusion.