Measuring & Improving Quality
What youth deserve: A statement of quality in afterschool
Quality out-of-school time (OST) programs inspire and promote learning and positive youth development by providing opportunities for autonomy and leadership; caring relationships; connections to families, communities and schools; safe environments; and engaging activities.
PSAYDN Statement of Quality in Afterschool defines the core elements that should guide afterschool programming. The statement provides a framework to define quality for Pennsylvania’s OST/afterschool programs and all other individuals and organizations that are interested in the quality of these programs, including public and private funders, parents and youth. The Statement of Quality outlines the necessary elements of a quality program in four core areas:
Getting the Most Out of the Self-assessment Process
Be sure to download and review the above Self-assessment Tool Instructions and Discussion Guide. OST staff and leaders often work under challenging conditions, with limited staff time and resources. Self-assessment and reflection can help programs focus their planning, action and support on key elements of youth program quality. Engaging multiple program staff levels, participants and/or stakeholders in this process brings a wider range of perspectives and contributions to a continuous quality improvement process.
Programs can use the tools in the way that makes sense for them – focusing on one or more of the core areas. While many programs do informal check-ins with staff and youth and make adjustments as needed, a more formal process will help sustain changes. Regularly scheduled retreats, bi-annual meetings or planning sessions are best for reflection around quality and improvement planning.
We also recommend you visit the Partnership for Afterschool Education’s (PASE) Afterschool Outcomes initiative and Afterschool Outcomes Resource Center. PASE is a child-focused organization that promotes and supports quality afterschool programs, particularly those serving young people from underserved communities.
PASE supports Quality Outcomes for Out-of-School Time (OST) and consistently hears that OST outcomes are the current and future priority of OST/afterschool. Accountability, appropriateness and adaptable methodologies are critical issues facing the field, and the organizations serving our young people vary widely in their ability and preparedness to act on these challenges. The understanding of OST benefits, outcomes and crucial nature for youth, particularly those from low-income communities, also varies widely among key stakeholders outside the field.
To help further address and improve upon these issues, check out the PASE Afterschool Youth Outcomes Inventory. The Inventory is a comprehensive tool for afterschool practitioners to use in assessing and articulating their programs’ impact on youth to all stakeholders: frontline program staff, directors, private and public funders, academics and researchers. PASE hopes this Inventory contributes to an ongoing discussion of youth outcomes.
Other Assessment Tool Links
Allegheny Partners for Out-of-School Time Quality Self-Assessment (QSA) – the PSAYDN Discussion Guide works in tandem with this assessment.
Core Standards for Philadelphia’s Youth Programs – a collaborative effort of Philadelphia OST stakeholders
PSAYDN Quality Subcommittee
PSAYDN has a statewide Quality Subcommittee that meets quarterly to promote the adoption of a common Statement of Quality and the development of capacity-building, assessment and evaluation tools linked to the Statement of Quality. The Quality Subcommittee provides support to define a statewide quality framework for afterschool and youth development programs and workers. This involves identifying and building consensus around a set of core quality principles necessary to all child-serving programs, without limiting flexibility and adaptability required for variances in student ages, interests and program approaches.