Study Type: Mixed methods descriptive survey
Principal Investigator: Catherine Augustine – RAND
Project Description: This is a mixed methods descriptive survey, which aimed to understand how district and school leaders partner with external organizations to provide STEM afterschool programs. RAND conducted three research activities to provide a national picture of why and how principals and district leaders partner with STEM afterschool providers. First, the research team distributed a survey to a nationally representative sample of public school principals for kindergarten through eighth grade in November and December 2022 through the American School Leader Panel (ASLP). Of the 6,040 surveys sent, 994 school leaders were both eligible to complete the survey (meaning that they both offered afterschool programming and partnered with an outside provider for at least one program) and then did so. RAND also interviewed 30 school leaders, representing rural, suburban, and urban schools and asked them questions about partnering with afterschool STEM providers, including why they partner, how they learn about partners, and what they look for in partners. Finally, RAND included questions on afterschool programming in a spring 2023 American School District Panel (ASDP) survey administered to a nationally representative panel of 1,107 districts; 222 district leaders participated (ASDP, 2023). These questions aimed to capture additional information from district leaders, unique from principals.
Key Findings: There were several key findings. First, principals reported that if given the option, they would offer more afterschool STEM programming. Principals noted difficulties both finding high-quality STEM providers to partner with and finding funding to pay them. Even so, the majority of schools (65 percent) were partnering with some type of external afterschool provider that offered a STEM option and principals estimated that about 14 percent of students were engaged in this programming. Principals also reported that student interest in an activity was the most important component when selecting a STEM afterschool provider and in renewing a contract—more important than either the quality or cost of the program. The report found that funding availability was the biggest challenge principals face when seeking to offer STEM afterschool programming. Although most districts and schools should have received an influx of federal dollars for afterschool as part of the pandemic relief funding, only one-third of principals reported that they had more funds for afterschool after the start of the pandemic than they did before. Even so, the report found that about two-thirds of district leaders plan to spend the same amount of funds that they have been spending on afterschool programming after the stimulus dollars expire. Suburban districts (82 percent) were much more likely to plan to maintain their funding for afterschool programming than were urban districts (55 percent).
Study Citation: Augustine, C.H., Leschitz, J.T., & Kushner, J. (2023). Expanding after-school opportunities: Connecting STEM after-school providers and schools. RAND Report.
Full report here.
The Key Findings above were reproduced from the published report and do not necessarily reflect interpretation of Overdeck Family Foundation staff.