October 10, 2017
On the right path: New study shows Washington State can lead the way on expanded learning
By Juliet Taylor
Program Officer, Raikes Foundation

New results from the state’s Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) Quality Initiative, co-funded by the Raikes Foundation, show that our state is on the right path to creating a first-in-the-nation quality expanded learning system for K-12 students.

Working with 50 expanded learning programs across King, Pierce, Spokane, and Walla Walla counties, the initiative demonstrated that when we support afterschool and summer learning programs with the right resources and training, they can deliver high-quality, transformative programming to young people.

Study after study shows that high-quality expanded learning programs have huge benefits for students. From bolstering STEM education to deepening social-emotional learning, expanded learning programs provide students with opportunities for engagement and growth that build on and connect to what they’re learning during the school day. Expanded learning opportunities give students a chance to explore and develop new passions, from cycling to journalism.

Afterschool and summer programs are also critical to helping students keep up, catch up, and excel in the classroom. High-quality expanded learning is linked to better attendance, improved grades, and improved test scores. Afterschool programs can also help lower dropout rates, ensuring more young people get the degree they need to thrive long after they leave school.

The results of this study are exciting because now we know what works. Right now, too few young people in Washington have access to the high-quality expanded learning programs that will build lifelong skills, improve academic performance, and inspire them to reach their full potential. But now we know that with the right support, expanded learning programs across the state can help students achieve both inside and outside of the classroom.

The Sparkwind Movement aims to do just that—bring quality expanded learning program to every student in Washington state. The results of this study prove it can be done, and we’re excited to continue working with our state and program partners to make it happen.