After-School Educational Programs: Goals, Work Practices and Best Practice Indicators

The primary goal of after-school educational programs is to help low achievers and disadvantaged students to fulfill their academic potential. The rapid growth rate of such programs in Israel and abroad has led to increasing efforts to define and measure their quality. In response to a request from the UJA-Federation of New York, the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute conducted a study to map the use of best practices in the main after-school programs in Israel.

The study reviews what the literature views as “best practice” in terms of the structural indicators, the indicators of the learning process and the indicators of cooperation with the schools, the parents and the community – in order to support decision-making regarding new directions and priorities for the further development of after-school educational programs.

The data were collected through self-report questionnaires completed by program directors in 2009. The study examined 25 programs, which were chosen as representative of the 42 leading educational programs implemented in Israel in terms of a range of programmatic characteristics and the age of the children served. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted with professionals at the Ministry of Education and planners and implementers of after-school educational programs.

The mapping identified 3 main implementation strategies: Comprehensive support programs, academic assistance provided in groups, and mentoring. The study revealed that there are some areas in which methods considered effective are implemented on a wide scale, e.g., provision of enrichment and empowerment activities alongside academic assistance; ongoing support for students for at least 3 years; staff training regarding teaching methods for low-achieving students, and more. Other methods, such as extensive involvement of the host schools in all aspects of decision-making, student involvement in planning activities and in decision-making, and significant parental involvement, were implemented to a lesser extent. The study also identified the main difficulties that the programs have to contend with, which include: Difficulties in recruiting and retaining suitable staff; meeting the additional, non-academic needs of students; irregular attendance and attrition; adapting program activities for a range of ages; and work with the students’ parents.

The study findings will serve as the basis for developing the field of after-school education programs. For example, they are the basis on which Ashalim is developing a training program for the staff of after-school educational programs, with the support of the UJA-Federation of New York. The findings have also been presented to professionals in the Ministry of Education.

The study was commissioned and funded by the UJA-Federation of New York.

Citations in the professional and academic literature

Park, H. J., Byun, J., & Jo, S. (2012). Do after-school programs matter? A longitudinal study on the effectiveness of participating in after-school programs in Korea. KEDI Journal of Educational Policy9(1).

Avlukyarı, N. T., & Hamedoğlu, M. A. Evaluation by the School Managers of Raising Program in Primary Schools (RPIPS). Journal of Family, Counseling and Education4(1), 35-43.

Citing suggestion: Ben-Rabi, D., & Amiel, S. (2010). After-School Educational Programs: Goals, Work Practices and Best Practice Indicators 2010. RR-567-10. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. (Hebrew)