e-Texas e-Texassmaller smarter faster governmentDecember, 2000
Carole Keeton Rylander
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Recommendations of the Texas Comptroller

Chapter 6: Education

Provide Guidelines for After-School and Summer Programs Intended To Help Students at

Risk of Academic Failure


In Texas, federal, state, and local funds are used to support after-school and summer programs intended for students at risk of academic failure. However, Texas has no consistent guidelines or quality measures to ensure that these funds are achieving results. This makes it difficult for after-school program administrators to seek new or continued funding from private and public sources. Texas should prepare statewide guidelines and quality evaluation instruments for these programs, and publicize them through the Internet.


The Legislature’s stated intent of ending “social promotion”—the practice of passing children to the next grade even when they have not met state promotion requirements—will require additional efforts to ensure that all students can succeed academically.[1] Students at risk of academic failure or dropping out particularly need additional support.

After-school and summer programs can provide such students with valuable additional time to develop basic academic skills, work on classroom assignments, and participate in educational enrichment activities. In addition, these programs offer a constructive alternative for children who might otherwise spend their after school hours in unproductive or even criminal activities. (Research from the US Department of Justice indicates that violent juvenile crime rates are highest between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm—the period directly after the end of most school days—and in many cases remain high until parents return home from work.)[2] Properly organized after-school and summer programs, then, can help reduce juvenile crime and delinquency by offering positive role models and structured learning activities outside of the regular school day.

After-school programs that are not closely tied to a school district may face difficulties in obtaining funding due to a basic lack of student data demonstrating their success. Such initiatives would benefit from state-level guidelines for effective after-school and summer programs and quality evaluation instruments.

Funding for After-School and Summer Programs

The United States spends more than $5 billion annually in public and private funds on after-school and summer programs.[3] Current government resources for these programs include federal funding allocated under the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Initiative [http://www.ed.gov/21stcclc/], which provided $450 million nationwide in fiscal 2000.[4] Thirteen programs in 11 Texas school districts (Blanco, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Irving, Lockhart, Mission, Nixon-Smiley, Progresso, San Antonio, and Waco) have received more than $9 million from this program to serve 275,000 students.[5]

In 1999, the Texas Legislature authorized a franchise tax credit for businesses that provide funding for before- and after-school programs and summer school initiatives.[6] In addition, the Legislature authorized $25 million for the 2000-2001 biennium to support after-school programs for middle school students. This grant program targets students at risk of academic failure and juvenile delinquency. The state’s Optional Extended Year Program, which provides funds for after-school, Saturday, or summer programs for K-8 students at risk of being held back in grade level, distributed $59,197,791 to 708 school districts in the 1999-2000 school year. These state and federal grant programs represent only a fraction of the total public and private funds spent in Texas on after-school and summer programs, but no total is available.[7]

Many local communities have invested in the development of after-school and summer initiatives using some combination of general funds, federal Community Development Block Grant funds, school district funds, and money supplied through local parks and recreation departments.[8] In most cases, applicants for these various funds are required to propose a method for evaluating their success. In such instances, after-school and summer programs that do not have access to student achievement data may be at a distinct disadvantage when competing for resources.

In summary, the private sector as well as local, state, and federal governments are investing substantial amounts of money in after-school and summer programs for at-risk students, yet there are few consistent guidelines or quality evaluation instruments to assist program administrators in achieving their goals. To ensure that public and private resources for after-school and summer programs actually support academic achievement and decrease juvenile crime and delinquency, several issues must be considered: program design, implementation, and evaluation.

Program Design

Effective programs should include strong partnerships with local school districts, parents, public and private organizations, and the community at large. Such collaboration can help after-school and summer programs develop and maintain a strong academic focus with appropriate educational activities.

Program designs should also incorporate supplemental health and human services to address nonacademic barriers to student achievement. For many at-risk students, factors such as poverty, illness, or parental abuse and neglect may represent significant obstacles to success in school.[9] In addition, after-school and summer program designs should include positive role models that can offer support for the improvement not only of academics, but of self-discipline and good citizenship.

Program Implementation

State and federal agencies generally require quarterly or annual progress reports to demonstrate that their funds are being used in compliance with applicable law. Effective after-school and summer programs collect and report reliable information on student academic progress to comply with such funding requirements and, if possible, expand their funding opportunities.

Moreover, the program’s managers should explore options for additional program providers or sites. School districts that lack the staff or facilities for after-school and summer programs, for instance, should seek opportunities to contract with public agencies, nonprofit organizations, or the private sector to expand their offerings for at-risk students.

Program Evaluation

After-school and summer programs should have clearly defined program goals tied to specific activities designed to achieve them. The goals, too, should be specific and measurable.[10]

Meaningful program evaluation provides data that local administrators can use to make continual improvements to their programs and demonstrate results to state and federal agencies, parents, and local communities. Evaluation data also can be used to replicate successes in other areas.

Eastside Story After-School and Summer Program

The Eastside Story nonprofit foundation in Austin, Texas provides after-school and summer enrichment programs for at-risk students from several area school districts. Funding is furnished primarily by the City of Austin and Travis County. This program has an energetic and dedicated staff who would like to increase their funding to serve more children, as well as to guarantee consistent, high-quality services for the students and families already involved in the program.

Eastside Story’s teachers are paid through outside grants, an arrangement that creates uncertainty about program continuity and makes long-term planning difficult. To address these issues, Eastside Story is working with Texas A&M University and the Comptroller’s office to quantify and measure its successes.[11] This effort has not been easy; it has proven difficult, for instance, to obtain individual student test scores and academic records from school districts.[12]

Marilyn Bostick of the Eastside Story has said that, “People assume that parents in this community don’t want to educate their children, but that’s not true. They have the same dreams as everyone else, theirs’ just take a lot more work.”[13] Eastside Story administrators believe they offer an outstanding program. To prove this, Eastside Story and many other after-school and summer programs need consistent guidelines and methods to evaluate the quality of their results.


A. The Texas Education Agency (TEA), in collaboration with the appropriate federal, state, and local funding sources and program administrators, should develop guidelines for the effective use of public and private funds in after-school and summer programs for students at risk of academic failure.

TEA could use data from current educational research on effective after-school programs as well as its own After-School Initiative for Middle Schools to develop these guidelines. In developing the guidelines, TEA should consult with other state agencies, local parks and recreation departments, colleges and universities and other interested parties. The guidelines should be made available for review on the Internet.

B. TEA should research and disseminate information on effective evaluation instruments for after-school and summer programs.

Information on effective evaluation instruments should be made available to local program administrators, parents, and other interested parties via the Internet.

Fiscal Impact

The guidelines could be developed and disseminated as part of existing TEA initiatives, such as the After-School Initiative for Middle Schools. Research on quality evaluation instruments also could be added to the Texas Education Agency’s research and evaluation agenda for the coming biennium. No additional state funds would be needed.

[1] V.T.C.A., Education Code, §28.0211.

[2] US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs, Juvenile Offenders and Victims: 1999 National Report (http://www.ncjrs.org/html/ojjdp/nationalreport99). (Internet document.)

[3] Jodi Wilgoren, “The Bell Rings, but the Students Stay, and Stay,” New York Times, January 24, 2000, Section A, p. 1.

[4] US Department of Education, “21st Century Community Learning Centers,” (http://www.ed.gov/21stcclc/). (Internet document.)

[5] Texas Association of School Administrators, “Thirteen Texas Programs Receive After-School Grants,” June 6, 2000 (http://www.tasanet.org/ednews/news_briefs.html#13). (Internet document.)

[6] V.T.C.A., Tax Code, §171.831-836.

[7] Telephone interview with Elizabeth Beckworth, program administrator, Division of Curriculum and Professional Development, Texas Education Agency, September 6, 2000; e-mail from Carol McDaniel, program specialist, Child Care Management, Texas Workforce Commission, September 7, 2000; and e-mail from Susan Burkhardt, National Child Care Information Center, September 7, 2000.

[8] US Department of Housing and Urban Development, “Community Development Block Grant Program,” (http://www.hud.gov/cpd/cdbg/deskguid.html). (Internet document.)

[9] Olatokunbo Fashola and Robert Slavin, “Schoolwide Reform Models: What Works?” Phi Delta Kappan, January 1998.

[10] Peter Witt and John Crompton, “A Paradigm of the Times: Parks and Recreation in the 1990s,” Parks and Recreation, December 1, 1999.

[11] Texas A&M University and the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Evaluation of the Eastside Story After-School Program, by Dr. Peter Witt, College Station, Texas, August 2000. (Consultant’s report.)

[12] E-mail communications from Dr. Peter Witt, professor, Texas A&M University, June 13 and June 26, 2000.

[13] Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, “Eastside Story,” Fiscal Notes, April 2000, pp. 10-11.

e-Texas is an initiative of Carole Keeton Rylander, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Post Office Box 13528, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas

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