RTI International

RTI International

Evaluating the California Distinguished After School Health Program- Supplemental Physical Activity Component


California afterschool programs that serve primarily children from low-income families are eligible for funding through the California Department of Education (CDE) Expanded Learning Division. In 2014, California authorized the voluntary Distinguished After School Health (DASH) Program, which awards a 2-year certificate to CDE-funded out-of-school time programs that present evidence they implement the DASH nutrition and physical activity standards.

Four data collection activities are planned: (1) survey of afterschool sites that do and do not have DASH certification assessing nutrition and physical activity practices; (2) In-depth interviews with DASH applicants (n=20); (3) certification reliability assessment; and (4) System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time (SOFIT) observation in a sample of DASH certified programs. DASH offers a time-sensitive evaluation opportunity. Evaluation findings will enhance DASH quality improvement as well as inform broader national efforts.

For instance, understanding the impact and outcomes of DASH will assist Voices for Healthy Kids in its efforts to advance similar policy in other states. This grant supplements funding from Healthy Eating Research to partner with CDE and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to evaluate DASH reach and impact among afterschool programs receiving funds through CDE.

Communication Plan

RTI works closely with Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Voices for Healthy Kids, project advisors and others on out-of-school time policy through the national Healthy Out-of-School Time Coalition. This project is well positioned to message its findings throughout the out-of-school time field through partner blogs, newsletters, and events. The team will develop a research summary report and briefing for Voices for Healthy Kids with PARC funding. Project partners will have opportunities to present findings at appropriate professional venues, such as the National AfterSchool Convention and state or regional out-of-school time conferences and events in California.

Research Findings and Products

  • Physical Activity in California Out-of-School Time Sites Certified by the Distinguished After School Health Program (DASH): Findings and Implications for Future Policy Efforts – The 17-page full report (PDF) evaluates implementation of the DASH standards for children’s moderate to vigorous physical activity in a sample of out-of-school sites and offers lessons on policy implementation and quality improvement. A 2-page lay summary highlighting the main findings from the full report will be available soon.

Project Team

Jean Wiecha, PhD – Principal Investigator
Jennifer Rineer, PhD – Project Manager
Nell Tessman – Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Project Collaborator
Michael Funk –  Expanded Learning Division, California Department of Education, Project Collaborator
Normandie Nigh – A World Fit for Kids, Project Advisor
Jessica Hay – California Afterschool Network, Project Advisor
Bruno Marchesi – Formerly from the Center for Collaborative Solutions, Project Advisor
Kris Lev-Twombly – California State Alliance of YMCAs, Project Advisor