Promising Practices in Afterschool Arts Programs Shown in Online Toolkit

November 29, 2006
Austin, Texas

Laura Shankland
Communications Associate
Phone: 512-391-6556

It sounds like a class on character education: empowering students to be leaders and teach other students in a supportive atmosphere. But it’s not character education. Surprisingly, it is break dancing class in a Seattle afterschool program. Here students learn new dance moves while developing self-confidence and leadership skills. One student reported that the break dancing class has made him “want to go to school.”

The break dance program is one of several arts programs featured in the arts section of the Afterschool Training Toolkit developed by the National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning. This online toolkit provides professional development to staff in afterschool programs and is developed around promising practices in afterschool programs that help boost student success.

“The arts have long been a part of afterschool programs,” says SEDL program manager Catherine Jordan who is the director of the National Partnership. “They are often key to engaging students and keep them interested in afterschool activities.” The arts can play a role in students’ academic success, as evidenced by the Seattle student who was encouraged to attend school because of the afterschool program. “Often the skills developed in the arts help improve self-confidence and cultivate self-discipline,” Jordan explains.

View the arts component of the Afterschool Training Toolkit at In addition to video clips of exemplary afterschool arts programs, the toolkit includes lesson plans, research and resources for embedding academic content in afterschool activities, and suggestions for discussion and interdisciplinary connections.

About the Partnership

The National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning provides assistance, training, and tools to help local afterschool programs build capacity to strengthen learning. It is supported by the Department of Education's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education under contract number MRED-03-CO-0048 and includes the following partners:
  • Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), primary contractor
  • National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST)
  • Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
  • Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL)
  • SERVE Center at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • WGBH Educational Foundation
  • U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
For more information about the Partnership, visit

About SEDL

The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) is a nonprofit corporation based in Austin, Texas. SEDL is dedicated to solving significant education problems and improving teaching and learning through research, research-based resources, and professional development. For more information about SEDL, visit