2022 Edition

Out-of-School Time Services (CA-OST) 12: Programming and Activities: Academic Enrichment and Skill Development

Children and youth participate in academic activities designed to encourage interest and success in school.
NA Academic programming is not a core element of the programs run by the organization.




Children and youth who participate in Out-of-School Time programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase well-being, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood.
Note: Please note that the more general expectations included in CA-OST 9 also apply to the activities addressed in this core concept.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
No Self-Study Evidence
  • Curricula for previous six months
  • Programming/activity plans for previous six months
  • Daily schedules for past month
  • Documentation of collaboration with school personnel, if applicable
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Children, youth, and families
  • Observe program activities
  • Review files of children and youth


CA-OST 12.01

Academic activities include a focus on at least one of the following areas: 
  1. literacy and language arts;
  2. social studies, including civic/global literacy;
  3. math;
  4. science;
  5. engineering;
  6. technology; and/or
  7. media and information.
Examples: Some organizations may provide instruction designed to help students improve basic skills in particular subjects, while others may provide enrichment activities focused on building specific skills or increasing exposure to certain fields. For example, an organization might engage students in social studies through projects designed to increase civic engagement, or an organization might engage students in math through activities designed to encourage financial literacy. Some organizations may offer activities that cut across different academic areas, or that integrate the arts into academic areas (e.g., STEAM or STREAM activities), and others may use academic content areas primarily as a vehicle for developing the interdisciplinary skills that are relevant across both academic and other content areas, such as “21st century skills” related to critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.


CA-OST 12.02

The organization supports academic engagement and learning by: 
  1. designing activities that complement, extend, and expand school-day learning;
  2. enabling children and youth to learn through active engagement with relevant academic concepts and materials;
  3. incorporating real-world applications that make learning meaningful and help children and youth see how academic content relates to their lives and the world;
  4. drawing connections between program areas of focus and other academic content areas;
  5. helping children and youth understand how their experiences and learning at the program connect to content covered at school; and
  6. ensuring personnel understand best practices in programming for the relevant academic areas and grade levels.


CA-OST 12.03

When programming is designed to promote interest and build skills in reading and language arts, activities enable program participants to: 
  1. access a variety of text sources and types;
  2. make choices regarding what they wish to read;
  3. engage in independent reading;
  4. take part in read alouds;
  5. participate in discussions that encourage analysis and reflection; and
  6. engage in writing exercises that include opportunities to formulate and develop ideas.
NA The organization does not provide activities related to literacy and language arts.


CA-OST 12.04

When programming is designed to help children and youth develop and deepen interests, skills, and understanding related to science, technology, engineering, or math, program participants have opportunities to: 
  1. ask questions and define problems;
  2. plan and carry out investigations;
  3. analyze and interpret data;
  4. develop and use models;
  5. construct explanations and design solutions;
  6. engage in argument from evidence;
  7. use mathematical and computational thinking; and/or
  8. obtain, evaluate, and communicate information.
NA The organization does not provide activities related to STEM disciplines.
Examples: Organizations may focus on different STEM domains. Domains include:
  1. physical science; 
  2. life science; 
  3. earth and space science; and
  4. engineering, technology, and/or other applications of math and science.  
Concepts relevant across these domains include:
  1. patterns; 
  2. cause and effect; 
  3. scale, proportion, and quantity; 
  4. systems and system models; 
  5. energy and matter; 
  6. structure and function; and
  7. stability and change.


CA-OST 12.05

When programming is designed to focus on social studies, children and youth participate in activities that: 
  1. are centered around the study of cultures and societies, civics, economics, and/or geography;
  2. enable children and youth to consider and explore multiple perspectives related to the topics in question;
  3. highlight connections between the past, present, and future; and
  4. encourage a commitment to citizenship and social responsibility.
NA The organization does not provide activities related to social studies.
Examples: Areas of focus can include, for example, the cultures and geographies of other nations, or the local community, history, or culture.


CA-OST 12.06

Children and youth have opportunities to learn about and explore community institutions, careers, and options for higher education related to the academic areas of focus.


When organizations serve older youth who are closer to embarking on a career path it will be especially important for youth to gain an understanding of professions that relate to the academic area of focus, as well as to obtain a better sense of the steps necessary to prepare for the career.


CA-OST 12.07

When children and youth are engaged in service learning, projects are designed to: 
  1. infuse community service with academic content and learning;
  2. respond to a real need in the community;
  3. enable children and youth to play an active role in identifying a need, developing and implementing a plan of action, evaluating progress towards goals, and modifying plans and goals, as needed;
  4. encourage group work and collaborative learning; and
  5. culminate in a presentation or celebration that highlights the contribution to the community.
NA The organization does not offer opportunities for service learning.
Note: Organizations should also ensure that opportunities for reflection, as addressed in CA-OST 9.15, are incorporated both throughout the duration of the project and upon completion.


CA-OST 12.08

Children and youth are helped to navigate transitions between grades and schools, when applicable.
Examples: Personnel might provide assistance by helping children and youth understand the structure and expectations of different grades and schools; arranging or accompanying children and youth on visits to new schools or classrooms; facilitating communication with school staff; encouraging parental involvement in the process; providing assistance with school applications; and/or offering summer programming that promotes readiness for the next school year. Organizations can also help youth during transitions simply by serving as a stable, familiar place that youth can count on as they cope with changes in other parts of their lives.


CA-OST 12.09

Organizations seeking to improve academic performance ensure that children and youth spend sufficient time on academics to support achievement of this goal.


The amount of time that should be devoted to academic content will likely vary based upon program duration. For example, while a program that operates during the school year might offer programming in a given subject two or three times per week, some experts recommend that shorter-term summer programs provide academic content at least three hours per day, five days per week, for five to six weeks.
NA The organization does not run programs that explicitly seek to improve academic performance.
Examples: In addition to dedicating a sufficient amount of program time to academics, additional strategies for ensuring children and youth spend sufficient time on academics can include: (1) creating schedules that protect instructional time; (2) ensuring teachers understand how much time they are supposed to devote to academics; and (3) encouraging regular attendance.