Date of Award

5-13-2011

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

First Advisor

Kathryn A. McDermott

Second Advisor

Joseph B. Berger

Third Advisor

Brenda Bushouse

Keywords

Education, Out-of-School Time

Subject Categories

Education

Abstract

Currently, there is a large body of research examining Out-of-School Time (OST) programs, the goals of these programs, and their reported impact on the youth they serve.

However, there is little evidence of research on how organizations determine which goals best fit the needs of the communities they serve. Concurrently, studies of how organizations put these goals into action are virtually non-existent in the literature.

This study examines how organizations in Massachusetts receiving federal 21st Century Community Learning Center funding make decisions about Out-of-School Time programming. Although the federal grant requirements and the Massachusetts Department of Education impose some uniformity on these programs, they still vary considerably in their design and the target audiences they serve. Through an online survey, document review and semi-structured interviews, the research identified several themes about the decision making used in these organizations. Cohen, March & Olson's Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice was used as a framework to better understand the data and to organize the discussion. A stakeholder analysis was also used to evaluate the influence of participants on the decision making within the Out-of-School Time programs. The research identified a loose connection between the decisions made about the types of activities selected and the prescriptive goals of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs. There were several factors that contributed to this loose connection, including the influence of stakeholders, the learning outcomes identified by the assessment tools, and the evaluation of programs by the state.

The research also leads to several recommendations about the evaluation of these programs in Massachusetts, including a review of the assessment tools designed by the state and a study of whether the mission shift evidenced in these communities is a tacit decision made by the Department of Education and grant recipients. Further research on the alignment of federal and state programming goals is also recommended.

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