With the October 2011 release of a longitudinal, independent evaluation, Higher Achievement became one of the first out-of-school time (OST) providers to offer conclusive evidence that its program works, demonstrating that its intensive year-round program had a significant impact on standardized test scores.
Serving nearly 500 youth ages nine to 14 from low-income families in the Washington metropolitan region, Higher Achievement develops critical academic habits and attitudes in middle school children to improve their grades, standardized test scores, attendance, and academic opportunities.
Students from disadvantaged backgrounds often enter school at a deficit and fall further behind as they move into higher grades. Higher Achievement’s approach to eliminating educational disparities focuses on improving short-term academic performance as well as long-term access to high quality education and careers.
In collaboration with Dr. Leigh Linden from the University of Texas at Austin, Public/Private Ventures is conducting a rigorous evaluation of the Higher Achievement program. The 48-month study is being supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies, the Spencer Foundation, The Wallace Foundation and the William T. Grant Foundation.
Though it emphasized that the benefits of Higher Achievement’s long-term investment in its students may be most evident when measured in high school and beyond, the study found that: The Higher Achievement model is making a difference in the academic lives of motivated, at-risk students who could easily fall through the cracks. Higher Achievement’s intensive year-round program had a significant impact on youth’s standardized reading and math test scores. Higher Achievement regularly engages parents, with 64 percent of parents of children attending the program confirming at their first-year follow-up that they spoke to Higher Achievement staff about their child’s progress at least once a month.
In a field where out-of-school-time providers are often considered at best a nice add-on, the impact of this study cannot be underscored enough, explains Higher Achievement’s Lynsey Wood Jeffries. “It changes the conversation of education reform—which is primarily dominated by how to use the hours between 8am and 4pm—and highlights OST providers as being real partners in meeting the whole needs of the child,” Jeffries says.
Since 2009, Higher Achievement has expanded to operate in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Richmond. Further research is planned to demonstrate its effectiveness as youth transition from the program into high school.
Higher Achievement closes the opportunity gap during the pivotal middle school years. By leveraging the power of communities, Higher Achievement's proven model provides a rigorous year-round learning environment, caring role models, and a culture of high expectations, resulting in college-bound scholars with the character, confidence, and skills to succeed. Learn more about Higher Achievement.