Predictors of Outsomes for After-School Program Participants


  • Clifton E. Watts
  • Peter A. Witt
  • Terri King


After-school programs, program inputs, school attendance and academic performance, school engagement


Support for after-school programs is increasingly tied to whether programs achieve outcomes that make significant social, physical, and/or educational differences for participants. As evidence of impact mounts, there is a growing need to understand and articulate the program processes that create long-term changes in targeted program outcomes. The current study examined the relationships among assessed program inputs, outputs, and outcomes for a large school-based, after-school program in a southwest city. Data were collected from children (grades 3 to 6) attending these programs. Inputs data included scales measuring program participants’ perceptions of safety and support within the after-school program; perceptions of the program as a place to receive homework help; and perceptions of home as a negative environment. Output data included a measure of after-school program attendance. End of the program data available included program satisfaction; scale score for positive school attributions; school attendance; and scores on the reading and math portions of the state-mandated achievement test. Each of the outcomes was entered into hierarchical regression models that examined the direct and indirect effects of the input variables on the outcome variables. Process data were significantly predictive of only positive school attributions. Specifically, program satisfaction, a hypothesized mediator or proximal outcome, was the strongest predictor and accounted for the greatest portion of the variance in positive school attributions. Results also indicated that program satisfaction partially mediated the effects of perceptions of a safe and supportive environment and a program’s homework help on positive school attributions. These findings support the idea that positive responses by participants to a program allow for proximal changes in how youth value programs. Based on these findings, it was hypothesized that long-term exposure to these types of programs may aid in developing changes in outcomes such as standardized educational test scores and school attendance.?