Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 616–636 | Cite as

Effects of After-School Programs with At-Risk Youth on Attendance and Externalizing Behaviors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

  • Kristen P. Kremer
  • Brandy R. Maynard
  • Joshua R. Polanin
  • Michael G. Vaughn
  • Christine M. Sarteschi
Empirical Research


The popularity, demand, and increased federal and private funding for after-school programs have resulted in a marked increase in after-school programs over the past two decades. After-school programs are used to prevent adverse outcomes, decrease risks, or improve functioning with at-risk youth in several areas, including academic achievement, crime and behavioral problems, socio-emotional functioning, and school engagement and attendance; however, the evidence of effects of after-school programs remains equivocal. This systematic review and meta-analysis, following Campbell Collaboration guidelines, examined the effects of after-school programs on externalizing behaviors and school attendance with at-risk students. A systematic search for published and unpublished literature resulted in the inclusion of 24 studies. A total of 64 effect sizes (16 for attendance outcomes; 49 for externalizing behavior outcomes) extracted from 31 reports were included in the meta-analysis using robust variance estimation to handle dependencies among effect sizes. Mean effects were small and non-significant for attendance and externalizing behaviors. A moderate to large amount of heterogeneity was present; however, no moderator variable tested explained the variance between studies. Significant methodological shortcomings were identified across the corpus of studies included in this review. Implications for practice, policy and research are discussed.


After-school programs Attendance Externalizing behaviors Systematic review Meta-analysis 



The authors are grateful for support from the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk, the Greater Texas Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences (Grants R324A100022, R324B080008, and R305B100016) and from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P50 HD052117). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the supporting entities.

Author contributions

KK participated in the conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, and drafting of the manuscript; BM participated in the conception and design of the study, acquisition and analysis of data, and drafting of the manuscript; JP participated in the acquisition and analysis of data and revision of the manuscript; MV participated in the conception and design of the study and revision of the manuscript; CS participated in the acquisition of data and revision of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Supplementary material

10964_2014_226_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (9 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 8 kb)
10964_2014_226_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (255 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 255 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristen P. Kremer
    • 1
  • Brandy R. Maynard
    • 1
  • Joshua R. Polanin
    • 2
  • Michael G. Vaughn
    • 1
  • Christine M. Sarteschi
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Social Work, College for Public Health and Social JusticeSaint Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Peabody Research InstituteVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Social Work and CriminologyChatham UniversityPittsburghUSA

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