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Study says learning programs working
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An evaluation shows that Newton County Schools’ 21st Century Community Learning Centers After School Academic Programs (ASAP) have met the needs of students who attend.

Deena Sams, coordinator for Newton’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers, shared results of a report from a Georgia Institute of Technology grant evaluator at the Newton County Board of Education’s Tuesday meeting.

Sams said the school system received a three-year federal grant in 2010 from the Georgia Department of Education to provide funds for opening the centers, operating as after-school programs at West Newton Elementary, Indian Creek Middle and Newton High School. The grant ends at the end of this school year.

In 2012, a new five-year federal grant was awarded to expand 21st CCLC services to students at Alcovy High, and Clements, Cousins, Liberty and Veterans Memorial Middle Schools, Sams said.

Sams said the grant is to assist students who did not meet standards on state testing; who are in need of remediation and credit recovery; who were retained due to academics; who exhibit other "at-risk" factors such as truancy and disruptive behavior; and families-in-need education and other support services.

During her presentation, Sams went through several lists of objectives in the 21st CCLC ASAP program. Full results can be found online at

Essentially, Sams said the evaluator found that the programs aligned to school-day academics; incorporated technology; used evidence-based curriculum; offered a wide variety of enrichment opportunities; had high student and staff retention; and provided parents with periodic written feedback regarding their children’s progress.

She said other qualitative findings from the evaluation were that the site directors were knowledgeable of community resources available for students and families; and that family activities were designed based on student and family needs.

Sams said the evaluator recommended that the program improve communication with building administrators to avoid being displaced; develop a program philosophy for each site; integrate academic content with physical activity and fitness; and for the centers to study and share best practices among sites.

Sams said the after-school programs follow the Georgia Afterschool Investment Council, whose goal is to ensure that Georgia’s children and youths have access to high-quality, affordable after-school and summer learning opportunities. 

Sams GAIC programs involve active and engaged learning; linkage to school day instruction; health, nutrition and physical fitness; a safe environment supporting relationships and diversity; and continuous improvement and professional development.