STUDYING THE STUDY

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FYI: The Bush administration has angered advocates for afterschool programs, as well as some state schools officials around the country, by proposing a 40 percent cut to the nation’s largest federally-funded afterschool program. The White House says it’s all in the numbers–those in a recent Mathematica Policy Research study. Mathematica says students in the program show no significant academic improvements and don’t report any greater feelings of safety; in fact, middle schoolers in the program are more likely to report having sold drugs. The program’s supporters, however, say the administration and Mathematica aren’t telling the whole story. In addition to questioning the study’s methodology–researchers collected data before reforms addressing academic achievement took effect, studied too few elementary programs and chose sites with low attendance rates–critics charge the White House is ignoring its positive findings: black and Latino students performed better on standardized tests, parents were more involved, and girls both did better in math and participated more in class. [2/27/03]