Portion of students’ WAKING hours spent outside of school
According to the most pervasive narrative, school is the place where students gain critical academic skills that will determine their success later in life and students attend school as it if were a job, mixed in with some opportunities for creativity and socializing. On the other hand, time spent outside of school, especially summer, is associated with vacation and leisure – but this narrative ignores the fact that students spend nearly 80 percent of their WAKING hours outside of school.
Out of School Time (OST) refers to the after-school hours, mornings before school, weekends and summer that make up the bulk of students’ time . In a state where 68% of students come from households where both parents work, OST programs keep kids safe, supported and engaged after the bell rings
Unfortunately, OST programs are not meeting the needs of our community – only one in three of OST sites offer enough days to positively impact students and less than a quarter of low-income students are participating in OST programs at the recommended level.
The result is that low-income students face a substantial disadvantage because of a lack of summer programs: they lose reading skills and tech literacy in the summer months, where their high-income peers with more access to books and technology actually benefit from the summer months. In all, half of the achievement gap can be attributed to summer learning inequalities.
We are working to change this story and support the learning endeavors of Austin’s students beyond the classroom through Target Graduation. By offering research-driven trainings and assessments delivered by a talented and passionate network of youth work professionals, we’ve helped more than 600 youth workers in Austin from more than 52 organizations improve their programs. And that’s not all: knowing that tech literacy is a key facet of summer learning loss and that future jobs depend on early tech skills, we have our sights set on improving experiences for students in STEM programs.
Out of school time is a huge opportunity to care for the students in our community, and our emphasis on quality ensures that students are getting the chance to continue to grow and learn when not in school. Join us today to keep students learning after the bell rings.
Written by Katy Aus, AmeriCorps VISTA for Target Graduation at United Way for Greater Austin. Katy focuses on improving OST systems across the Austin area by working with community partners and leading collaborations.