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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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The April 2009 edition of Phi Delta Kappan, the professional journal for education, contains an article by Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP), "Strengthen What Happens Outside School to Improve What Happens Inside."  HFRP's article is one of seven that appear in the journal under the rubric, "Congress, We've Got Ideas for You!" that offer recommendations for the future federal role in K-12 education. 

The article offers research-based recommendations for federal education legislation that highlight the importance of out-of-school learning as complementary to school improvement strategies.  The recommendations challenge the long-standing assumption underlying federal education legislation -- including the No Child Left Behind Act -- that K-12 schools can operate alone to level the learning field for poor children. 

Forty years of steadily-accumulating research demonstrate that this assumption is wrong.  We now know that opportunities for after school learning, summer learning, and support for families are major predictors of children's development, educational achievement, and school success, and that economically and otherwise disadvantaged children are less likely than their more-advantaged peers to have access to these out-of-school or complementary learning opportunities.

The six recommendations in the article offer a research-based case for continuing and expanding current federal investments in family involvement, after school, and summer learning programs and for new efforts to ensure that these out-of-school supports work complementarily with each other and with schools to promote shared learning and development goals.

"Strengthen What Happens Outside School to Improve What Happens Inside" is based on The Federal Role in Out-of-School Learning: After-School, Summer Learning, and Family Involvement as Critical Learning Supports, a paper commissioned by the Center on Education Policy as part of a series on "Rethinking the Federal Role in Elementary and Secondary Education." For a full copy of this and other papers in that series, visit the CEP web site at

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© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project