April 14, 2016

Evaluation of Mayor de Blasio's Unprecedented Investment in Middle School Afterschool Shows 98 Percent of Surveyed Parents Say Children Like the Program

Principals, teachers and staff report strong programs, engaged students, positive results from SONYC expansion in schools across city

Nearly all families say they would recommend programs to other families

NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Youth and Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong recently released the findings of the Year One Evaluation of SONYC (School's Out New York City), part of the City's expanded middle school afterschool initiative. The study shows the Mayor's historic $145 million first year investment in 2014 worked to triple SONYC enrollment and dramatically increase educational and recreational opportunities for New York City sixth through eighth graders. Ninety-eight percent of parents surveyed reported their sons and daughters like coming to the program, and nearly all of the families surveyed said they would recommend SONYC to other families.
"Today's report shows that kids are learning—and they like it. We're growing tomorrow's leaders, keeping kids safe and busy while parents are at work, building their confidence, and closing in on the achievement gap in communities across our city. And this is only year one," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"The de Blasio administration has made afterschool programming a cornerstone of our approach to achieving equity and excellence in education. We have kept our commitment to offer an afterschool program seat to every middle schooler. And under the leadership of DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong, SONYC has been a resounding success. We've doubled the overall number of middle school students served just two years ago, and that's thousands more parents who can go to work or pursue their education, knowing that their children are learning, having fun and making friends in a safe environment," said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery.
"Middle school students are in a critical stage of their social and educational development and have specific expectations of their afterschool experience. These findings are testament that our quality SONYC programs offer diverse and engaging learning opportunities, provide students with safe and welcoming environments, and result in positive outcomes. I thank Mayor de Blasio and his staff for their commitment to expand SONYC programs, which offer our young people a true pathway to success," said DYCD Commissioner Bill Chong.
"Today's report confirms what I hear from families across the City – afterschool programs work and provide students with safe and enriching environments. Learning shouldn't stop when the bell rings and providing rigorous and exciting afterschool programming is essential to raising student achievement and ensuring students are ready for college and meaningful careers," said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.
The findings represent data from 2,300 hours of program observation, more than 2,000 youth surveys, nearly 1,000 family surveys and 7,000 hours of interviews from a cohort of 37 SONYC programs that participated in site visits during the first year of the two-year review conducted by the American Institute for Research (AIR), a behavioral and social science research, practice, and policy organization.
The AIR report also shows:
  • Program quality is high, and school and program staff cited program activities as a key strength.
  • Program and school staff reported improvements in youth outcomes, particularly in their social and emotional development and leadership skills.
  • Youth attended a total of 13 million hours in SONYC programming, with each participant spending, on average, 236 hours in programming during the year.
  • SONYC programs encourage all youth, including English language learners and students with disabilities.
To view highlights of the SONYC Year One Evaluation, click here.
Prior to the expansion, DYCD and the Department of Education combined served an estimated 56,369 middle schoolers in 239 schools and community centers in the 2013-14 school year. In the first year of the middle school expansion (2014-2015), the City served 111,448 young people in programs operated by both DYCD and DOE through various initiatives. The initiative with the largest expansion was SONYC, DYCD's afterschool programs in public middle schools, community centers, and other locations. Enhancements included programs being open five days per week for 36 weeks during the school year, and a higher price per participant to cover the additional hours and enable providers to hire and retain qualified staff and provide high quality programming
Middle school can be an especially challenging time for students, parents and teachers, with young people undergoing the extraordinary changes of early adolescence, and an especially valuable time when young people can experience amazing growth when provided opportunities. Afterschool programming helps develop new skills and interests; prepares students for high school, graduation, college and beyond; encourages young people to pursue their passions; keeps youth out of trouble between the hours of 3 PM and 6 PM; and reduces the achievement gap among diverse communities.
SONYC programming offers diverse opportunities to middle schoolers, including STEM robotics, 3D modeling, urban agriculture, fitness, fashion and design, podcast production, coding, animation, and filmmaking and theatre arts.

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