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Supporting Literacy in Out-of-School Time: An Examination of OST Early Literacy Practices in Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s Out-of-School Time (OST) system has identified K-3rd grade literacy support as the focus of the first phase of its strategic plan, launched in 2017. Research shows that OST programs can have an impact on early literacy skills, and this plan views OST programs as an important “delivery system” for
addressing critical needs of youth throughout the city, and aims to better coordinate and leverage resources for OST programs to address these needs. Over the next few years, Philadelphia’s OST system will undertake a focused effort to improve reading outcomes for K-3rd grade participants.

This report assesses the degree to which Philadelphia’s OST literacy programs have the “Key Ingredients” necessary for high-quality literacy programming. It also identifies areas that require more support. Findings are based on interviews with two leaders in Philadelphia’s early literacy landscape, staff from six OST literacy programs, and a survey completed by staff from 48 OST programs.