Building on What We Have Learned About Quality in Expanded Learning and Afterschool Programs: Working Toward the Development of a Quality Indicator System

The significant growth in the number, sophistication, and strength of 21st Century Community Learning Centers since 1997 has been quite remarkable: from 10 schools in 1997 to almost 11,000 afterschool and summer learning programs in schools and community centers in every state in 2012–13. These programs are now broadening and deepening learning for almost 1.7 million students, engaging over a quarter-million parents, and coordinating 40,000 school-community partnerships that provide a variety of important academic supports and enriched learning opportunities through afterschool and summer programs.

In this article, Carol McElvain, a managing director at AIR, describes how the expanded learning community has grown and developed, both in its day-to-day practice as well as in its knowledge of what works well, over the past decade and a half. The article focuses on what the development of a robust program quality indicator system might be able to measure and demonstrate to those who might support the expansion of high quality expanded learning programs afterschool and summers