You are seeing this message because your web browser does not support basic web standards. Find out more about why this message is appearing and what you can do to make your experience on this site better.

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.

Terms of Use ▼

Erin Harris and Priscilla Little, from Harvard Family Research Project, describe the implementation of the new 21st Century Community Learning Centers program’s evaluation requirements in the context of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program, which began supporting after school programs nationwide in 1998, now provides one billion dollars per year for out-of-school time activities for children and their families. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which significantly amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, contained a number of new provisions that specifically affected the 21st CCLC program. In addition to providing a stronger academic focus and expanding eligibility for the grant to community based-organizations, the new legislation turns over responsibility for administering the 21st CCLC program from the U.S. Department of Education (referred to hereafter as the Department) to the states.¹ These changes have implications for the evaluation of the 21st CCLC program.

21st CCLC Evaluation Requirements
The Non-Regulatory Guidance² for the 21st CCLC program helps states and potential applicants understand the legislative requirements of the program and directly addresses evaluation issues at the local, state, and national levels.

Local Evaluation
According to the Guidance, local-level 21st CCLC grantees must conduct periodic evaluation of their programs and use the findings to refine, improve, and strengthen the programs and improve performance measures. Evaluation results must be made public on request. Local programs must meet Principles of Effectiveness as outlined in NCLB, which mandate that 21st CCLC program activities be based on:

• An assessment of objective data regarding need for programming in schools and communities
• An established set of performance measures aimed at ensuring high quality academic enrichment opportunities
• Scientifically based research that provides evidence the program or activity will help students meet state and local academic achievement standards (See the related article on scientifically based research.)

Evaluation Highlights From State RFPs

How much priority is given to the local-level evaluation?
Most states included points indicating the priority given to evaluation activities. States allocated anywhere from 3% of their total points to evaluation (Wyoming) to 25% (Indiana and District of Columbia). Evaluation criteria stress the need to address the NCLB Principles of Effectiveness.

Who is responsible for state and local evaluation?
Most states indicated that their state Department of Education is responsible for the statewide evaluation, and some identified an external evaluator who would be contracted. External evaluators identified include: private consultants, university-based researchers, state government departments, and nonprofit research organizations. Local grantees were often encouraged to identify a local evaluator in their application.

What tools are states using to evaluate?
Several states requested local evaluations use specific evaluation tools. For example, Massachusetts grantees are required to use the Evaluation Instrument developed by the Department and the National Institute on Out-of-School Time ( In Hawaii, the state educational agency will collect baseline data for the 2002–2003 school year based on the Harcourt Educational Measurement testing ( that occurs in April 2003.

What data sources are states using to evaluate?
Data sources states identified include: needs assessments, participant surveys, self-assessments, site visits, participant/staff interviews, and measures of student achievement (e.g., test scores) and behavior (e.g., attendance records).

State Evaluation
States must evaluate the 21st CCLC program to determine the status of the program and training needs within the state and to determine the effectiveness of the program statewide. States may use 3% of their 21st CCLC funding for evaluation, monitoring, and technical assistance activities. The state evaluation may use a sample of the state programs and may be contracted to an outside agency.

National Evaluation
Finally, the Department contracted with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. to conduct an evaluation of the 21st CCLC grants awarded by the Department from FY 1998 through FY 2001. (See the special report on the national 21st CCLC evaluation.) The Department intends to fund a national evaluation to examine the effectiveness of the 21st CCLC program as a state-administered program as well. These national evaluations are designed to be complementary to the required data collection on the program indicators developed by each state, and the Department’s indicators of academic progress that are collected under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA).

Implementation of 21st CCLC Evaluation Plans
In their federal applications for Title I funds and their Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for the local competitions, states have provided information about their plans for evaluating program performance statewide. Although most states adopted evaluation information straight from the Non-Regulatory Guidance, many provided additional detail. The box above highlights some of the ways states have addressed the evaluation issue.

Erin Harris, Research Assistant, HFRP

Priscilla Little, Project Manager, HFRP

¹ The NCLB converts the 21st CCLC authority to a state formula grant. In past years, the Department made competitive awards directly to local education agencies. Under the reauthorized authority, funds will flow to states based on their share of Title I, Part A funds. States will use their allocations to make competitive awards to eligible entities. Current 21st CCLC grantees will continue to be administered by and receive funding through the U.S. Department of Education.
² Available on the Internet at (Acrobat file), the Non-Regulatory Guidance is a user-friendly document that translates the legislation into a more accessible format.

‹ Previous Article | Table of Contents | Next Article ›

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