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Based on the view that programs with a strong academic component may reduce the substantial educational disparities for American students from disadvantaged backgrounds or in chronically underperforming schools and school districts, this synthesis of research on academic achievement programs describes how such programs may help children and adolescents develop strengths and abilities in the areas of education and cognitive attainment, health and safety, social and emotional well-being, and young adult self-sufficiency. The report describes academic-oriented programs for youth that have a rigorous experimental evaluation or a careful quasi-experimental evaluation. Twelve programs are examined, all designed to improve academic achievement, with most participants considered to be at-risk of failing a grade or dropping out of school. Most programs had academic achievement as a component rather than the program's sole focus, were conducted after school, and were community-based. Experimental studies found that impact of academic achievement programs were mixed and varied considerably across programs. Programs focusing primarily on a particular outcome and including an academic component appeared to be more effective at improving that outcome than programs focused exclusively on academic achievement. Quasi-experimental evidence suggested that youth participating in programs longer and more intensively did better than those participating for a shorter time or less intensively, and that programs with a strong academic focus were more consistently effective at improving academic outcomes. The report identifies numerous questions for further research. The report concludes by asserting that although programs with at least one strong academic component can improve educational, health, social and emotional, and self-sufficiency outcomes among participants, the effects are not certain and sometimes no impact has been found. The report's two appendices describe the academic achievement programs and their evaluations, and delineate the non-academic programs offered by each program. (Contains 100 references.) (KB)

Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Adolescent Development, Adolescents, Child Health, Child Safety, Children, Elementary Secondary Education, High Risk Students, Models, Participant Characteristics, Program Descriptions, Program Effectiveness, Program Evaluation, Well Being, Youth Programs

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Autor: Redd, Zakia; Cochran, Stephanie; Hair, Elizabeth; Moore, Kristin


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