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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


School and After-School: Dependent or Independent?

BetsAnn Smith.

The paper presented uses ecological theory (Aldrich, 1999, Baum & Singh, 1994) to describe and analyze an emerging co-evolution between school organizations and after-school programs in the United States. In the U.S. generally, and in large urban centers particularly, two trends have fuelled the growth of formalized after-school programs: the rising predominance of single and dual working parents needing after-school care for their children, and new educational policies holding schools accountable for student learning. The first trend has stimulated wider funding for both school and community based programs providing after-school care. The second has driven demands that programs, regardless of setting, provide activities that encourage academic achievement in school. Consequently, the goals, boundaries and activities of both community youth development organizations and schools are shifting in relation to one another. Community groups that formally focused on safety, recreation and social development are focusing more on cognitive development. Meanwhile, schools are reconsidering the boundaries and activities of their own organizations, both by extending their mission into the after-school hours and by shaping some of their programming strategies to combine with after-school opportunities (i.e. in school we will emphasize phonics and basil readers, in after-school they can read books.) Data for the paper comes from a series of research studies on the after-school hours of children in several cities in the U.S. Literature from funding and provider organizations is also scrutinized. The study highlights a subtle trend with potentially far reaching influences, not only on the nature and content of the after-school lives of children but on changes to the key social institutions and community organizations that shape their lives.


BetsAnn Smith  (United States)
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Administration
Michigan State University

BetsAnn Smith is an Assistant Professor in K-12 Administration at Michigan State University with research interests in the effects of school organizations on teaching and learning opportunities. Most recently, she has been investigating the growth of formal after-school programming and its effects on students and school organizations.

  • School organizations
  • After-school programs
  • Learning outside of school
  • Ecological theory

(30 min Conference Paper, English)