Current-Generation Youth Programs

What Works, What Doesn't, and at What Cost?

by Megan K. Beckett

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Policymakers nationwide must decide how to best invest in education and related opportunities, such as out-of-school-time programs targeting youth and early-childhood education programs. In this paper, we review the costs, benefits, and costs and benefits relative to one another for one alternative type of investment: youth programs that are offered during the time that students are not in school. Such programs are often viewed as a mechanism for addressing working parents’ needs for care of their school-age children, for improving the developmental outcomes of youth, and for reducing the gap in academic achievement between advantaged youth and disadvantaged youth.

At this time, the evidence of evaluations of such programs, all of which were geared to at-risk youths, is strongest for programs that are costlier and provide more-intense resources to youth.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    What Are Youth Programs?

  • Chapter Three

    What Do We Know About the Costs of Youth Programs?

  • Chapter Four

    What Do We Know About the Positive (and Negative) Effects of These Programs?

  • Chapter Five

    What Do We Know About the Costs Relative to the Benefits of These Programs?

  • Chapter Six

    How Should Policymakers Evaluate Youth Programs?

This work was sponsored by Growth & Justice. The research was conducted by RAND Education, a division of the RAND Corporation.

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