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Year Published: 2008
This Public/Private Ventures evaluation studied the Communities Organizing Resources to Advance Learning (CORAL) project, an eight-year, $58 million afterschool initiative in cities across California designed by the James Irvine Foundation aimed at providing academic enrichment and support to primarily elementary school students in the lowest performing schools, who are often living in low-income families. The evaluation found that students participating in the CORAL program, a majority of whom were English language learners and reading below grade level, saw literacy-related gains. CORAL participants who were English language learners and those who were furthest behind in reading experienced greater gains in their reading performance while in the program compared to their peers who entered the program reading at grade level or who were English proficient. Children who began the CORAL program two or more grade levels behind in reading, based on the individualized reading assessments, gained just as much as their higher-achieving counterparts over the same period of time. The study also found that CORAL students reported having a positive experience in the program. Close to 90 percent of CORAL students reported that they felt safe in the program, and 71 percent agreed that they felt that they belonged in the program. Parents of students in the program also reported a positive experience for their children, with more than 90 percent of parents reporting that the program helped their child to do better in school.
Program Name: Communities Organizing Resources to Advance Learning (CORAL)
Program Description: CORAL, which ended in 2006, was an afterschool initiative across five cities in the state of California. The program had an academic focus, offering enrichment activities and homework help, but academic outcomes varied greatly across the cities through the 2003-04 academic year. To improve the consistency of high-quality programming, CORAL implemented new literacy programming in the fall of 2004. Students participated in a variety of literacy activities three to four days per week, for 60 to 90 minutes each day, including: reading aloud, book discussions, writing activities, vocabulary activities, skill-development activities, and independent reading. At the time of this evaluation, statewide enrollment was 5,321, ranging from 585 to 2,081 across the cities.
Scope of the Evaluation: Multi-city
Program Type: Afterschool
Location: Fresno, Long Beach, Pasadena, Sacramento, & San Jose, CA
Community Type: Urban
Grade level: Elementary School
Program Demographics: CORAL participants were a very diverse group. More than half of the participants were English language learners (53 percent), 89 percent received free or reduced-price lunch, and 51 percent were girls. Sixty-eight percent of participants were Hispanic, 14 percent were African-American, 10 percent were Asian, four percent were multi-racial, three percent were Caucasian, and one percent identified as “other.”