Original Paper

American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 394-404

First online:

Investing in Success: Key Strategies for Building Quality in After-School Programs

  • Jessica SheldonAffiliated withPublic/Private Ventures
  • , Amy ArbretonAffiliated withPublic/Private Ventures Email author 
  • , Leigh HopkinsAffiliated withPublic/Private Ventures
  • , Jean Baldwin GrossmanAffiliated withPublic/Private Ventures

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This paper examines the relation between the implementation quality of after-school literacy activities and student reading gains. The data are from an evaluation of a multi-site after-school program in California in which continuous program quality improvement strategies were implemented to improve the delivery of a new balanced literacy program. Strategies included: (1) targeted staff training throughout the year, (2) regular observations and coaching of staff, and (3) the use of data to measure progress. Programs struggled to successfully implement these strategies early in the initiative, but gradually improved the quality and consistency of their use. Program quality, as measured through observations, also increased. Results suggested that the size of student reading gains were positively correlated with the quality of literacy programming provided by each instructor.


After school Activity quality Continuous program improvement Literacy Reading gains