Date of Award

Spring 2017

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Suzanne E. Graham

Second Advisor

Todd A. DeMitchell

Third Advisor

Leslie J. Couse


In America, millions of children are living in poverty and/or attending high poverty schools. These students, on average, score lower on assessments of math and reading achievement than their more affluent peers. The federal government budgets money each year towards interventions targeted to raise the achievement of students living in poverty. 21st Century after school programs have received billions of dollars over the past 20 years towards this goal.

This is a secondary analysis of students attending five diverse, high poverty elementary schools in New Hampshire between 2008 and 2013. Ordinary Least Squares multiple regression analyses were used to estimate the impact of participation and dosage in the 21st Century after school program on math and reading achievement for each year of data. Multi-level modeling for change was used to estimate the longitudinal impact of participation and dosage on achievement over time.

Results were mixed on the impact of participation on achievement in math and reading. Some years, a negative impact of participation was found; while other years there was no impact. In some years, differential positive impacts of participation were found for students identified as Hispanic, African American, or having special needs. Mixed results were also found for the impact of program dosage on achievement, with no impact seen in some years, and a positive impact found in others. A differential negative impact was found for males in one year, and a differential positive impact of dosage found in other years for students identified as English language learners or Hispanic. While no longitudinal impacts were found of program participation or dosage on math achievement, impacts were seen for reading. Students that participated in the program at high doses over the course of three years were found to score higher on tests of reading achievement than non-participants.

These results provide mixed support for 21st Century after school programs as an effective academic intervention for students attending high poverty schools. This indicates a need for further study in this area. These results should be considered in the broader arena of evaluations of other federal interventions to aid students living in poverty in order to most strategically target federal funds. Finally, results should be considered in conjunction with other 21st Century program goals, including providing affordable, supervised care for students living in poverty during the after school hours.