Golden OpportTUNEity: The Impact of the OpporTUNEity Music Connections After School Music Enrichment Program on Student Outcomes
This program evaluation analyzes the impact of a partnership between a private liberal arts college and the local public elementary school that provides after school music instruction and academic tutoring to students in a highly diverse, low-income community in the northeastern U.S. in an effort to increase student academic engagement, increase college attendance, and disrupt the local school-to-prison pipeline. This evaluation is a study of the program’s first three years of implementation at the local elementary school. The study examines three questions: 1) Does OpporTUNEity influence students’ academic motivation? In this context, academic motivation is defined as self-regulation, engagement, and self-efficacy. 2) Is there a correlation between OpporTUNEity and students’ academic achievement? In this context, academic achievement is defined as performance in English Language Arts and Math on standardized tests, grades, and benchmark assessments. 3) Is there a correlation between OpporTUNEity and students’ sense of belonging? In this context, sense of belonging is defined by perceptions of acceptance and “fitting in,” and is measured by social connections, attendance, and behavior. Student academic performance data was studied pre-participation (2018, n=63) and post-participation (2019, n=63 and 2020, n=32) among both participants and nonparticipants to compare the program’s impact on student performance on standardized assessments, grades, and attendance. Additionally, program observations (n=2) and interviews with students (n=3), parents (n=4), and faculty (n=14) were conducted in 2020 to evaluate the program’s impact on student behaviors, motivation, and sense of belonging. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, participation in the program dropped dramatically during the qualitative data collection period. Additionally, standardized assessments were cancelled and classes were conducted virtually, limiting data collection during 2020. Standardized assessment data showed greater improvements for participants than nonparticipants in a number of measures, but these differences were not found to be statistically significant. Student, parent and teacher interviews reflected that students in the program felt a strong sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and motivation to attend the program. Additional study when the program resumes its previous capacity and in-person format will be necessary to collect a larger data set for further analysis.
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