Learning Beyond the Classroom

Research on what principals need to access and implement quality afterschool and summer learning programs.

February 2018, Volume 41, Issue 6

Learning doesn’t stop when the school day ends. Quality out-of-school (OST) programs are key to students overall success. Research on the impact of after school and summer learning programs have confirmed how students positively benefit academically, improve social and emotional, and health and wellness outcomes.

In the 2017 “Beyond The Classroom: What Principals Want When It Comes to Afterschool and Summer Learning” report from NAESP and the College of Charleston’s Afterschool and Summer Learning Resource Center, survey efforts targeted a range of areas that impact principals and OST programs.


Findings presented in this report provide important insights into the nature of afterschool and summer programming across the nation. The data indicate that schools and OST programs are inextricably linked, with principals turning to OST programs to supplement in-school instruction.

Principals perceive the outcomes of these programs to be varied in terms of their effectiveness in ensuring homework completion, improving student academic achievement, and in the development of skills and behaviors important for academic success such as getting along with others, motivation to learn, participation in classroom activities, and positive classroom behavior.


Funding for afterschool programs typically comes from tuition and fees, but for urban and rural schools, as well as schools within the lowest educationally ranked states, federal funding is a significant contributor.

School districts are more prominent funding sources for summer programs but federal funding remains a key source of funding for summer programs in urban and rural communities as well as those within the lowest ranked states.

Afterschool and Summer Management

Most principals indicated they lack the time needed to devote to the OST program and that staffing is a concern. Top priorities among principals are hiring qualified staff, obtaining help in OST program curriculum planning and development, and gaining support to provide engaging experiences during expanded learning opportunities. Urban respondents indicated a need for high quality materials while rural respondents reported that transportation is among their greatest concerns in regards to OST programming

The 2017 national principal survey report also focuses on other elements of afterschool and summer programs including, OST-school partnerships, activities offered in afterschool and summer programming, challenges in OST programming, and more. For the full report, visit http://bit.ly/2BZRDM1.

Visit the Afterschool and Summer Learning Portal at afterschool.naesp.org.

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