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ERIC Number: EJ1145092
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1054-8289
SEL-Focused After-School Programs
Hurd, Noelle; Deutsch, Nancy
Future of Children, v27 n1 p95-115 Spr 2017
After-school programs offer young people opportunities for self-expression, exploring their talents, and forming relationships with supportive adults. That is, after-school programs promote young people's social and emotional learning (SEL) skills--whether the programs use that term or not. Despite these programs' potential, Noelle Hurd and Nancy Deutsch write, they have yet to make a big impact on the field of SEL. One reason is that studying them poses many problems for researchers--for example, attendance is not mandatory, meaning that it can be hard to separate a program's effects from young people's personal characteristics that led them to choose the program in the first place. Still, research shows that after-school programs can promote many desirable SEL outcomes, and Hurd and Deutsch outline the factors that make high-quality programs stand out. How could policy help after-school programs promote SEL more effectively? First, positive youth-staff relationships are crucial to effective programs, and competent adult staff are the linchpin of effective after-school programs targeting SEL outcomes. Yet the after-school work force is poorly paid, and turnover is high. Hurd and Deutsch suggest several ways to professionalize after-school work--for example, by boosting professional development and creating more opportunities for career advancement. Second, as schools have become more focused on standardized test scores, funders and policymakers have pushed after-school programs, too, to demonstrate their academic impact. Hurd and Deutsch write that this approach is misguided: overemphasizing academic outcomes leads to neglect of SEL outcomes that can help young people become productive and engaged citizens. They argue for expanding the criteria used to determine whether after-school programs are effective to include SEL. More broadly, they write, high-stakes evaluations create a disincentive for programs to undertake the difficult work of assessing and improving their own practices. A better approach to evaluation would focus less on whether programs "work" and instead seek ways to make them work better.
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and The Brookings Institution. 267 Wallace Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544. Tel: 609-258-6979; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A