Since 2005, hundreds of California state teachers have participated in this initiative and provided thousands of hours of English instruction to migrant students (Lomeli et al., 2006).
Given the wide array of resources that are available for after-school venues, it is not surprising that their numbers have increased in recent years with higher numbers of students participating each year, but the frequency of their operation also varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Consequently, another measure of the successfulness of a given after-school program for migrant students is its frequency. According to Zhang and Byrd, "With such a variety of locations, the number of after-school programs has increased in all major urban areas, and youth participation in these programs strengthens every year. Indeed, it is currently estimated that approximately 25 to 30% of American youths spend between three and five afternoons each week in organized after-school programs" (2005, p. 6).
According to Dietal (2009), students participating in effective after-school programs that offer services three to five times a week achieve significantly higher math, science, and reading grades compared to nonparticipating peers and those students who participating in five or more of the activities offered by the after-school programs attained higher reading scores compared to nonparticipants as well as other after-school program participants who participated in fewer than five activities. Based on these findings, Dietal concludes that, "Measuring breadth of activities, together with intensity and duration, seems a worthwhile approach to future after-school evaluations" (2009, p. 63).
Another study by Frankel and Daly (2007) used attendance intervals in their evaluation of the Beyond the Bells Partner Agencies after-school program. These researchers identified a relationship between after-school attendance and higher scores in math and language arts, as well as attendance at regularly scheduled day-time school (Frankel & Daly, 2007). The after-school program, though, became ineffective when students failed to attend a minimum number of activities throughout the school year, with higher ineffectiveness rates for younger students (Frankel & Daly, 2007). For instance, elementary students who failed to attend at least 100 days' of after-school activities and middle-school students who failed to attend at least 50 days' worth of after-school activities did not achieve the higher scores in math and language arts identified in other program participants (Frankel & Daly, 2007).
Beyond the foregoing attributes of successful and unsuccessful after-school programs, it is also possible to gauge successful initiatives by determining their degree of responsiveness to the changing needs of their migrant students. In this regard, Zhang and Byrd emphasize that, "Although there is no single formula for establishing quality after-school programs, successful programs typically combine academic, recreational, physical, and artistic elements within a curriculum designed to engage youths in a variety of structured and supervised activities" (2005, p. 6).
One such after-school program that could be readily tailored to the needs of migrant students that has proven effectiveness is Project ESTRELLA (Encouraging Students through Technology to Reach High Expectations in Learning, Life skills, and Achievement); a 5-year initiative, Project ESTRELLA is among four other initiatives examining the efficacy of applying technology specifically to the problems faced by migrant students sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Migration Education (Branz-Spall et al., 2002).
Although not an after-school program exclusively, the resources that are provided by Project ESTRELLA can be used in tandem with after-school programs or by the migrant students at home or elsewhere, including alone or with other students in migrant worker camps, school libraries or wherever migrant students are located in sufficient numbers (Branz-Spall et al., 2002). One of the most beneficial aspects of Project ESTRELLA is this flexibility in service delivery, as well as the fact that it provides coordination and continuity of service delivery wherever migrant students travel in the country (Branz-Spall et al., 2002).
The foregoing examples of characteristics of after-school programs can be further informed by the following indicators of effective and ineffective after-school programs provided by Table 1
Indicators of Effective and Ineffective After-School Programs
Effective After-School Program Indicators
Ineffective After-School Program Indicators
Presence of a program coordinator or committee to oversee implementation and resolution of day-to-day problems
Lack of knowledge about effective program delivery
Involvement of individuals with highly shared morale, good communication, and a sense of ownership
Poor quality of leadership and management
Employment of qualified personnel
Ineffective organizational structure
Ongoing processes of formal and informal training, including the involvement of knowledgeable experts
Poor quality and inadequacy of program staff
High inclusiveness of all school stakeholders
Inefficient and inappropriate financial management
High visibility in the school and the community
Poor communication and cooperation between the after-school program and the regular day-school program
Program components that explicitly foster mutual respect and support among students
Lack of active instructional components
Varied and engaging instructional approaches
Lack of performance measures
Linkage to stated goals of schools or districts
Consistent support from school principals
Low program enrollment
Balance of support from both new and seasoned administrators
Lack of focus on program impact
Lack of cooperation with community organizations
Lack of parental and volunteer involvement
Lack of understanding for sustainability in resource adequacy
Source: Zhang & Byrd, 2005, p. 6
As can be readily discerned from the characteristics of ineffective after-school programs shown in Table 1 above, there is no "lack of lacks" but there are a number of attributes of effective programs that can be used as a set of best practices in the development and implementation of these initiatives based on the unique needs of the migrant students that are present at any given point in time. This means that in order to be as effective as possible, administrators of after-school programs for migrant students must make an ongoing effort to assess the individual needs of their participants as well as the pool of other migrant students who could benefit from participation in the program. Clearly, this is a challenging enterprise, but attracting new participants and retaining existing participants can be facilitated by providing curricular offerings that combined with recreational, sports or other "fun" activities.
Branz-Spall, A.M., Rosenthal, R. & Wright, A. (2003). Children of the road: Migrant students,
Our nation's most mobile population. The Journal of Negro Education, 72(1), 55-57.
Dietal, R. (2009). After-school programs: Finding the right dose -- if the dose of time and activity are right, after-school programs can impact student learning. Phi Delta Kappan,
Frankel, S. & Daley, G. (2007). An evaluation of after school programs provided by Beyond the Bell's partner agencies: Executive summary and synopsis of methodology and findings.
New York: Partnership for After School Education, Retrieved from www.pasesetter.