The Federal Role in Out-of-School Learning: After-School, Summer Learning, and Family Involvement as Critical Learning Supports

Weiss, H. B.,
Little, P. M. D.,
Bouffard, S. M.,
Deschenes, S. N.,
Malone, H. J.
Paper/Research Report
Year Published: 2009
Harvard Family Research Project
Harvard Family Research Project

The authors of this 54-page report review the existing research on out-of-school learning supports and school success, examining the implications of this research for future education policy. Their review indicates that education policy and practice should reframe the definition of learning (what it is, who enables it, and when it takes place) to encompass all of the places where children and youth learn. Working from this new definition of learning, the authors offer a broader, research-informed, and potentially more powerful learning framework to replace the current one, which they assert is an inequitable, piecemeal, and often disconnected approach to out-of-school learning. The authors call the new framework "complementary learning," because it links school and out-of-school supports so that they complement and reinforce each other across a child's development and school career. Specifically, this evidence-based framework incorporates three learning supports: family involvement, after-school, and summer learning. The authors begin their report with a description of their vision of a continuous, comprehensive, complementary learning system. They then examine the developmental and intervention evidence for the three core out-of-school learning supports. This section includes specific recommendations for the federal role in sustaining and scaling each out-of-school learning support reviewed. In the third section, the authors synthesize the evidence-based implementation lessons that show the need to integrate out-of-school learning supports with each other and with schools. In the final section, the authors conclude with recommendations for the federal role in the future. Modified Author Abstract.

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