"Collecting and having the ability to analyze data city-wide will allow us, as a city, as a group of stakeholders, to make informed decisions, set priorities, solve problems, and reach a consensus on a city-wide strategic plan for out-of-school time. Data drives everything.” Tobi Jackson, Executive Director, Fort Worth SPARC
In the greater Fort Worth area, a broad range of stakeholders are collaborating to advocate for exceptional afterschool programs and to serve as a collective resource for parents and providers, with an emphasis on reliable data. With strong support from Mayor Betsy Price, the coalition includes the Fort Worth Independent School District, 14 smaller independent school districts that serve youth in the city and a range of afterschool providers and community leaders. With a mission to “Strengthen after-school Programs through Advocacy, Resources and Collaboration,” the group formed a city-wide intermediary, Forth Worth SPARC, to lead data collection and infrastructure development. Notably:
- Fort Worth boasts a comprehensive program locator system that currently tracks 289 programs across the city,
- A 2012-2013 wide-scale survey of programs resulted in a snapshot of Youth Participation at Selected Afterschool Programs, and
- In 2016, partners are collaborating on a central repository for programs across the city to collect and report on outcomes data.
Mayor Betsy Price is a strong supporter of afterschool programs locally and speaks nationally on the value of afterschool opportunities. At a U.S. Senate briefing, she discussed how afterschool contributes to an educated workforce, noting “education is economic development." She was a featured speaker at an Afterschool Summit hosted by the Schwarzenegger Institute where she spoke about the community benefits of afterschool in reducing crime.
Dallas Afterschool was formed in response to the 2006 study, Today's Children: Tomorrow's Communities, After-School Program Assessment, that recommended the creation of a unifying agency to facilitate communication and learning between the more than 2,200 afterschool programs in Dallas County. The Dallas Foundation launched the intermediary as a designated fund. Today, Dallas Afterschool has 15 employees and has twice been nominated as a finalist for the Center for Nonprofit Management's "Nonprofit of the Year" award.
Dallas Afterschool is a city-wide intermediary focused on improving the quality of afterschool and summer programs in the community. Working with afterschool staff members at 130 sites throughout Dallas, the organization informs, trains, supports and evaluates programs serving K-12 grade students.
Its 2016 budget of $1.4 million is built from the support of foundations, events, individual giving, and a prestigious board of directors comprised of business leaders guides the organization and helps garner support. Dallas Afterschool has the support of Mayor Mike Rawlings, but no delegated authority. The organization leverages resources partnerships to create more quality afterschool learning opportunities for youth.
Dallas Afterschool is helping to lead and collaborate with a number of initiatives across the city, including:
- Research: Dallas Afterschool conducts annual research with Southern Methodist University to evaluate the effectiveness of their interventions, and to also look at the link between afterschool quality and attendance to student academic success and social/emotional growth.
- Citywide Data System: Working with The Commit! Partnership, a cross-sector group that bridges children’s issues from cradle to careers, Dallas Afterschool is contributing to a data dashboard of publically available data for education in Dallas.
- Community Collaboration: The After the Bell Alliance, a community collaboration led by Dallas Afterschool, addresses the factors that prevent out-of-school-time from being accessible to youth and impactful to their learning —especially for youth who would otherwise be at home without an adult.
Dallas Afterschool CEO Christina Hanger remarks, “Many partners work together in this learning space. We have a complex landscape of public and private organizations with varying spheres of influence. Dallas Afterschool is trying to help everyone understand how together we can move the needle as we collectively work to provide more quality seats and establish equitable opportunities that parents can provide for their children.”
Louisville’s city-wide intermediary, BLOCS (Building Louisville’s Out-of-School Time Coordinated System), originated in response to recommendations from the 2008 “Graduate! Greater Louisville High School Graduation Summit” that was hosted in partnership by the City of Louisville and Jefferson County Public Schools. The summit ultimately led to the publication of the 2010 YouthPrint report that presented strategies and recommendations to build a system, guided by a long-term planning process, that would fulfill a vision for improving outcomes for Louisville-area youth.
BLOCS is a partnership of Louisville education, government, and community impact organizationsthat work to improve the quality of afterschool programs across the city, increase youth access to and participation in programs, coordinate data collection, and conduct outreach around afterschool. Founding organizations include Metro Government, Jefferson County Public Schools, and Metro United Way. BLOCS is a collaborative partnership, and there is very regular communication and meeting among partners.
Afterschool programs are a key component in Mayor Greg Fischer’s citywide accountability system known as “The Cradle to Career Initiative”, which features four important pillars: Kindergarten Readiness, K-12 Success, Postsecondary Transition and Completion, and 21st Century Workforce and Talent. In a media release around afterschool funding, Mayor Fischer said that “out-of-school time is a critical time for our young people, for their safety, and their academic and employment success.” Fischer has also said that “there’s no excuse for students to spend the summer losing all the knowledge they’ve gained during the school year” and that “we don’t want our future leaders to fall behind in school.”
Currently data collection and reporting by Louisville afterschool providers is voluntary. BLOCS encourages programs to participate in data collection around quality improvement, youth outcomes, and school-level indicators. While data collection effort are not yet centralized, BLOCS is working to establish a model that will allow them to look across the system in order to develop a more complete picture of each individual afterschool provider and the overall picture of afterschool across the city.
So far, Louisville data collection efforts demonstrate that afterschool programs that focus on enhancing program performance and practices are, in fact, improving their quality. Now, BLOCS is focused on understanding how program quality improvement yields positive impact on youth outcomes including academic, behavioral, and college and career readiness outcomes.
In the Saint Paul area school districts, community organizations, non-profits, businesses, and parents have been collaborating for over a decade to ensure that youth have access to high-quality afterschool programs. These partnerships were formalized in 2006 by Mayor Chris Coleman, with the establishment of the Second Shift Commission. The Commission was charged with providing a shared vision for youth success and creating a city-wide data system to help improve the quality of information about out-of-school time in Saint Paul.
In 2011, a city-wide intermediary, Sprockets, was launched to continue the work of the Commission and to improve the quality, availability, and effectiveness of out-of-school time learning for all youth in Saint Paul. The Sprockets network is made up of numerous afterschool and summer programs and works in collaboration with community organizations, the city, and Saint Paul Public Schools.
Mayor Coleman is a local and national advocate for afterschool programs. Speaking at an event in Washington, DC, he noted: "Supporting afterschool programming is part of our city's education improvement strategy, economic development strategy, neighborhood development strategy, and crime prevention strategy. In short, it's all connected." Coleman also went on to say, "When young people have quality afterschool learning opportunities, they are inspired, they are engaged, they are safe, and they gain the necessary skills and knowledge to prepare themselves for higher education or skilled jobs."
Notably, Sprockets has helped to create a shared data system for collecting and storing information from afterschool providers across the city. The Sprockets Shared Data System helps to answer questions about participation and gaps in opportunity and offerings, while improving the quality of information about afterschool learning in Saint Paul. Programs track information about youth served, types of programs offered, frequency of programs, and afterschool impact data.
Database participants also have access to Saint Paul Public Schools aggregate data for youth in their program—including test scores, attendance, and free-and-reduced price lunch status.
Comprehensive information about the state of afterschool helps stakeholders make decisions about expanding or starting new programs, better link in-school and out-of-school learning outcomes, and show the impact of out-of-school time participation in the Saint Paul community.
The city of Boston has been committed in the development of a city-wide system to support quality after-school programming since the late 1990s. In 1998, then Mayor Thomas Menino announced the creation of the first-in-the-nation municipal afterschool office in response to the growing need for after-school programming in the city. The Boston 2:00-to-6:00 Initiative focused on:
- Opening Boston Public School facilities for use after school,
- Leveraging financial resources to expand afterschool opportunities, and
- Encouraging the adoption of high standards for program quality.
In 2005, a city-wide intermediary, Boston After School & Beyond, was founded as a successor to to the Boston 2:00-to-6:00 initiative and Boston’s After-School for All Partnership—a collaboration of 15 local funders and the city government.
Boston After School & Beyond is a public-private partnership that seeks to ensure that every child in Boston has the opportunity to develop to his or her full potential. The intermediary mobilizes partnerships among program providers, philanthropic organizations, businesses, and institutions of higher education, as well as the city offices and Boston Public Schools. Boston After School & Beyond helps to coordinate:
- BOSTONavigator: a database of Boston’s afterschool and out-of-school time programs and opportunities,
- A city-wide drive toward the adoption of common measures of program quality and student skill gain,
- Support for the Achieve, Connect, Thrive (ACT) Skills Framework commissioned by the Mayor’s Office, the Boston Public Schools, Boston After School & Beyond, and the United Way, and
- The Boston Summer Learning Challenge, a city-wide approach to offering an integrated full-day, five-week summer program for high-need students.
Current mayor Marty Walsh has continued strong support for out-of school time learning with a focus on summer learning programs. "When we create opportunities for our young people we set them on a pathway to a successful future, and build a stronger city," said Mayor Walsh. In 2016, he announced the city was on target to reach the ambitious goal of the Boston Summer Learning Challenge to serve more than 11,000 students in more than 120 committed summer sites. Unlike traditional summer school programs offered exclusively in school facilities, the Boston Summer Learning Community immerses young people in new and local environments – such as natural preservations, the Harbor Islands, college campuses, and workplaces – with an explicit focus on building skills in addition to academic content. Other new program sites for 2016 include Massachusetts Audubon’s Boston Nature Center, Northeastern University’s Bridge to Calculus program, and St. Stephen’s Youth Programs in the South End.
How many programs operate in the city? How are they organized?
Providers operate a total of 289 programs either in community settings, at private schools, or within the area public school districts. Of these sites, 196 (86 percent) were located at schools and 32 (14 percent) were at community-based sites.
The largest provider in the region is called Fort Worth After School and is managed by the Fort Worth Independent School District. This provider has comprehensive data on its program and participants, including an external evaluation in partnership with Texas A&M University. Fort Worth After School Program highlights include:
- 84 campuses
- 9,500+ daily participants
- Ratio of 15:1 for elementary school and 20:1 for middle and high school
- Four days minimum per week
- Daily homework help
- 10 years funded through 21st Century Community Learning Center grants through the Texas Education Agency (TEA)
Dallas Afterschool collects afterschool data—including the number, location, capacity and type of program—through a city-wide locator tool, www.findafterschooldallas.org. As of December 2015, there were 640 providers in the locator with a reported 35,219 seats in Dallas afterschool programs. Of these seats, 47 percent are available through center-based programs, 25 percent through schools, 21 percent through community-based organizations and four percent through faith-based community programs.
The search tool was launched in Summer 2015, powered by the Dallas Women’s Foundation, to help families find reliable before and afterschool child care programs in Dallas County. Over time, trend data for programs will be available including types and numbers of programs, seats and locations with a goal to illuminate gaps and help inform decisions to meet demand.
In addition to ensuring programs are focused on quality learning, Dallas Afterschool reports a gap in availability and access. They note that in Dallas, over 97,000 students are still left alone during the hours of 3 – 6 pm, more than enough children to fill AT&T Stadium to capacity.
BLOCS reports that are as many as 185 afterschool program sites operating in Louisville. Of these sites, 157 programs have login accounts with CASCADE—a data management system created by Jefferson County Public Schools. CASCADE allows afterschool programs to generate participant data reports for each site.
The 157 afterschool sites have been designated as Jefferson County Public Schools “Learning Places,” meaning the providers agree to have an academic focus, even if indirectly. There are many community sites that have arts, mentoring or other goals that are only indirectly focused on academics.
BLOCS is building a visual map of afterschool provider site locations, cross-referenced to poverty data. This may help in identifying program gaps across the city and where supports should be targeted in underserved areas. With the expanded reach of BLOCS, more programs are continuing to register with CASCADE and more regularly track program attendance.
Additionally, serving 12 counties in the greater Louisville area, BLOCS has partnered with Metro United Way's 2-1-1 help referral service to connect families to afterschool and summer learning programs. This database includes mentoring programs, sports and recreation activites, and youth employment opportunities.
The Sprockets network is made up of more than 90 organizations. In 2014-2015, Sprockets partnered with 42 afterschool organizations and 138 provider sites across the Saint Paul area to collect and share information on afterschool through the city-wide data system. That is up from 38 organizations and 135 sites the previous year.
From the information gathered, Saint Paul programs are able to show high retention among Sprockets youth; in fact, 62 percent of youth ages 6-12 return to a Sprockets program from one school year to the next. However, only 34 percent of youth age 13 return. Sprockets is working to understand how programs can keep youth involved from year to year, especially as they transition from middle school to high school.
Safe, reliable transportation continues to be an issue for youth; only 24 percent of Sprockets youth attended programming at more than one organization. In the spring of 2015, Sprockets developed a new Transportation Toolkit to help programs identify barriers and find transportation solutions. They hope to increase youth ability to navigate walking, biking, and using public transportation to travel independently to afterschool opportunities.
The above Sprockets map places available afterschool programs against data about students eligible for free and reduced priced lunch. They note that “the darkest red areas are where Sprockets programs are best reaching youth most in need of the benefits of afterschool.”
Boston After School & Beyond partners with more than 100 program providers in Greater Boston and 70 Boston Public Schools to provide afterschool and summer programs.
More broadly, there are over 1,300 out-of-school time program sites and enrichment opportunities currently listed in the BOSTONavigator database. BOSTONavigator provides detailed programming information for Boston’s out-of-school time programs and opportunities around the following areas:
- Arts and Culture
- College Readiness
- Community Service/Civic Engagement
- Early Education
- Jobs/Career Exploration
- Other Social Services
- Sports and Recreation
- Technology/Media Literacy
- Youth Development
Boston After School and Beyond collects robust data on summer programs, providing each participating program with an annual data profile. In 2015, the Boston Summer Learning Challenge served 5,626 students in 79 sites. All programs measured program quality from observer and youth perspectives and tracked enrollment and attendance in YouthServices.net. Sites focused on helping youth develop “Power Skills,” including: peer relationships, self-regulation, critical thinking and perserverance.
Data about the summer programs is collected using multiple tools:
- Youth Perspective: Uses the Holistic Student Assessment (HSA) diagnostic tool developed by Program in Education, Afterschool & Resiliency at Harvard. Students in Grade 5 or above rate themselves on 14 different social-emotional skills at the beginning of the summer. Their results are normed against PEAR’s national database for their gender and grade-level. Depending on how the student compares to the average for their gender and grade-level, the skill is considered either a strength, challenge or neutral for that student and they are assigned to a support need tier of low, moderate or high social-emotional support need.
- Teacher Persective: Uses the Survey of Academic and Youth Outcomes, Teacher Version (SAYO T), an instrument of the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST). Teachers complete both a pre- and post- survey rating the frequency of student behaviors related to eight different social-emotional skills, as well as student proficiency in English Language Arts and Math.
- Third-party Perspective: Uses The Assessment of Program Practices Tool (APT), a tool of the National Institute on Out of School Time (NIOST) where third party observers rate aspects of program quality related to social-emotional skill development. Domains on the APT can be summarized into three categories: program organization and structure; supportive environment; and, engagement in activities and learning.
At the end of the summer, in a community forum each program received a tailored Program Report for Improvement and System Measurement (PRISM) will summary and analysis of data on program participation and quality.
Excerpts from sample PRISM data report, Boston After School and Beyond, 2015.
How many – and which – kids have learning opportunities outside of school by participating in an afterschool program?
During the 2012-2013 school year, 29,095 children and youth were enrolled in afterschool programming at schools and community centers operated by organizations that took part in a Fort Worth SPARC study about 13 percent of total school enrollment. On average, daily attendance was 12,260 at those same facilities.
Most programs served about equal numbers of girls and boys. In aggregate, the ratio of girls to boys is 49 to 51 percent, respectively.
A majority of the programs were used by families with young children, with 63 percent of programs serving children in pre-kindergarten through Grade 6. By the time that a youth reached middle school, the number of available programs greatly decreased, although the number of youth served/grade remains comparable. Only Boys & Girls Clubs, Castleberry, and Fort Worth ISD high schools offered programs for older youth.
Not all of the providers were able to report race and ethnicity. From the available data we know that 49.4 percent of youth served were Hispanic; 35.3 percent Black/African American; 11.4 percent White; 2 percent Asian; and 1.4 percent two or more races.
Across Texas, a total of 880,636 K-12 children participate in afterschool programs (about 18 percent of the total student population), including 106,207 students in programs supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the only federal program dedicated to afterschool.
A reported 35,219 afterschool program seats are available to children (ages 5-14) in Dallas, and most programs operate at full capacity and many have extensive wait lists. This represents 19 percent of the city’s total youth population of 181,838.
In Dallas, the goal is to ensure quality learning opportunities for any youth who wants it, and there is special focus on programs with no charge or a very small registration fee.
In Dallas County, where 72,325 youth live in low-income communities, only approximately 12,193 seats are available in low- or no-cost afterschool programs This means that only about 16 percent of youth with the greatest need for additional learning opportunities are being served.
According to CASCADE-generated reports, more than 10,200 students are currently enrolled in afterschool programs associated with Jefferson County Public Schools.
With more than 100,000 students are enrolled in the Louisville public school system, about 10% of youth are counted as participating in an afterschool program. Additionally, Metro United Way estimates that more than 30,000 youth are now participating in afterschool and summer programs in some way across Louisville.
There are reported achievement disparities among students in Lousiville—particularly in terms of state tests, graduation rates, and college and career readiness. Thousands of students are living in “Zones of Hope”—neighborhoods designated for special community attention due to high rates of homicide, suicide, and poverty. Eighteen of Jefferson County Public Schools are designated as priority ranking since they are among lowest five percent in the state in terms of performance. In mapping afterschool programs to high-poverty zip codes, BLOCs hopes to draw attention to the need for more opportunities in these areas to support academic success.
Across Kentucky, 104,693 of the state’s 655,642 K-12 children participate in afterschool programs, including 17,055 students in programs supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the only federal program dedicated to afterschool.
BLOCS sees strong demand for afterschool programs based on children in need of services and supports beyond school, and continues to urge afterschool programs to track participation in CASCADE. According to the 2014 America After 3PM household survey, 265,184 more children would participate in an afterschool program if one were available.
In 2014-2015, 18,068 children and youth participated in afterschool and summer enrichment opportunities at 42 Sprockets partner organizations. Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) is one of Minnesota's largest school districts with more than 39,000 students. The approximate percentage of 46% of youth served with afterschool programs is much higher than the national average from survey data of 18% participation.
As reported by Sprockets, students attended programming at least 29 days per year, up three percent from the 17,602 youth who attended at least 29 days the previous year.
The majority (87 percent) of Sprockets youth were between the ages of 5-14, with 10 percent between the ages of 15-17. In total, 81 percent of Sprockets youth are young people of color, including Black/African American (34 percent), Asian and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (27 percent), Hispanic/Latino (13 percent), Biracial/Multiracial (5 percent), and American Indian (2 percent).
Across Minnesota, 136,041 of the 842,932 K-12 children participate in afterschool programs, including 11,647 students in programs supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the only federal program dedicated to afterschool.
It is estimated that 51 percent of school-age children and youth participate in afterschool and summer programs in the greater Boston area. Participants in these programs include higher proportions of male students, English Language Learners, students of color, students with special education needs, and students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch than Boston Public Schools.
In 2013, an evaluation from the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST), at Wellesley College, found that SLP students’ English language arts skills improved by 15 percent over the course of the summer, and math skills improved 19 percent.
Additionally, two different tools administered separately by NIOST and the Program in Education, Afterschool and Resiliency (PEAR), a joint initiative of Harvard University and McLean Hospital, found statistically significant increases in students’ power skills—critical thinking, peer relationships, and perseverance.
Across Massachusetts, a total of 196,592 out of 953,429 total K-12 students participate in afterschool programs, including 16,843 students in programs supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative, the only federal program dedicated to afterschool.
How are programs funded?
Funding for afterschool programs comes from program fees paid by parents or from a number of public and private funding sources. An estimated 88 percent of all enrollments were at programs that subsidized participation to help low-income families have access to enrichment opportunities for their children.
Much of this assistance comes from governmental sources, including: the Texas Education Agency via 21st Century Community Learning Center grants; Fort Worth Independent School District; the city of Fort Worth’s Crime Control and Prevention Distric; the city’s Community Development Block Grant; and/or, the Texas Workforce Commission, via Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County. Other youth were subsidized by funds raised privately by the nonprofit organizations, such as Boys & Girls Clubs, Clayton YES, United Community Centers and the YMCA.
Funding for afterschool comes from a wide range of sources including Community Block Development Grants, City funds through Parks & Recreation, school district funds, federal subsidies for childcare, parent-paid tuition, and private funders for programs in underserved neighborhoods. Dallas Afterschool is helping to lead a comprehensive effort to compile funding data using a protocol from the Texas Partnership for Out of School Time (TXPOST). They are working with the Dallas Regional Chamber to secure a pro-bono team for data collection.
According to Dallas Afterschool CEO Christina Hanger: “In Dallas, we’re living with a wide disparity of resources. Middle-class youth often have many choices for enrichment opportunities in their neighborhoods that parents can afford. But in low-income communities, families are working to cover basic needs. Even when an afterschool program is available, it can be a challenge to secure a seat due to high fees, waiting lists, access to transportation and lack of choice.”
The After the Bell Alliance, a community collaboration led by Dallas Afterschool, is working to increase access and encourage participation in out of school time programs. The After the Bell Alliance hopes to improve efficiency through more effective use of community resources and provide better social, emotional and academic outcomes for the most at-risk and underserved children in Dallas. “We know there is not enough private funding to serve all of the youth in need,” says Hanger. “To really move the needle on access, we need to employ public funding. We’re working to advocate for students most in need of quality programming and leverage resources for the greatest positive impact.”
Louisville afterschool programs receive funding from a variety of sources. This includes local grants from Metro United Way, Louisville Metro Government, and other community organizations, as well as grants through the federally funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. These grants help to support afterschool and summer enrichment activities, community service projects, tutoring and homework help, college and career exploration, leadership services, mentoring opportunities, family engagement, and social development.
For FY2016, Louisville Metro Government awarded almost $300,000 to programs working after school and over the summer. Metro United Way, with partners from the Louisville Out-of-School Time Coordinating Council, have also awarded $70,104 in grants to help make the summer a time when children are not only maintaining their academic skills, but are also remaining on grade level and working to graduate on time.
Saint Paul afterschool programs receive funding from a wide variety of sources, with the largest source coming from local private philanthropy. Programs also receive public funds dedicated to youth serving activities through the Parks and Recreation department and local libraries, as well as grants through the federally funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.
These grants and contributions help to support afterschool and summer enrichment activities, career exploration, mentoring, event nights, technology, tutoring and homework help and music and performing arts programs.
The Saint Paul Public School’s Community Education Department Flipside Afterschool program receives funding in part through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant. This allows the program to provide free afterschool programming at nine schools across the district. The majority of these participants are in middle school, which has been historically an underserved age group in enrichment opportunities.
To help bridge the gap between the end of the school day and end of the workday, Mayor Coleman announced that in the coming year Saint Paul Parks and Recreation will again offer Rec Check, a free afterschool program for youth in grades 1-5. The program helps provide students with a safe place to go in the few hours between when school lets out, and when parents get home from work.
Afterschool and summer programs in Greater Boston receive funding from a variety of sources. This includes grants from the city, awards from state line items, funding from local and national foundations, and grants awarded through the federally-funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.
Historically, the city has played a large role in financing and delivering afterschool programming for youth in Greater Boston through a commitment of approximately $10 million per year in federal, state and city resources.
This is in addition to the many state line items that go to youth-related activities, including: the Afterschool and Out-of-School Time Quality (ASOST-Q) Grant, Mentoring Matching Grant, Youth Build Grant, School-to-Career Connecting Activities, Youth At-Risk Matching Grants, Shannon Grant, YouthWorks Grant, Library Local Aid Line Item, Violence Prevention Grants, Safe and Successful Youth Initiative, Massachusetts Cultural Council Youth Reach Program, Gateway Cities line items, and the STEM Pipeline Fund, among others.
Have quality standards been adopted for afterschool programs in the city? How widespread is the use of standards?
The Quality Standards for Fort Worth After School or Out-of-School-Time Programs were developed in 2014 through a community-wide engagement process that included out-of-school time providers, city leaders, school district administrators and other supporters. The standards were customized for the Fort Worth context after reviewing standards from the National AfterSchool Association and local standards from cities across the nation. he standards are part of the overall quality improvement system and considered to be a framework for expectations that have been proven to be effective for kids, spanning across all types and sizes of programs.
The Fort Worth standards address four major areas defined as in need of excellence by the stakeholders involved: relationships, positive youth development, environment, and management. These standards are meant to serve as a shared foundation for quality programming from which any organization can build upon. They provide a framework for expectations that have been proven to be effective for kids, spanning across all program types and sizes. Because quality standards are a part of the quality improvement system, the network will continue to assess and identify ways to improve the standards to sufficiently represent the diverse characteristics of each program.
Dallas Afterschool works to improve the quality of afterschool and summer programs across the city by providing assessment supports, technical assistance, and evaluation information. The primary focus is with free or low-cost sites in Dallas County. The intermediary currently directly supports 130 afterschool sites that collectively serve more than 9,000 K-12 students from low-income communities.
Although there are not city-wide quality standards, Dallas Afterschool instead developed the Afterschool Quality Advancement (AQuA) tool based on national standards and with the input and support of afterschool providers in the community. This standard defines 10 elements of a high quality afterschool program, and the corresponding indicators of quality. Southern Methodist University researchers validated AQuA as a tool to define and measure program quality.
Through periodic on-site observations, Dallas Afterschool measures quality levels at sites participating in the Program Quality Initiative (PQI) against AQuA. In 2015, Dallas Afterschool reported that 96 percent of sites had mastered at least one one new indicator of quality (out of 10), like youth participation and engagement; measuring outcomes and evaluation; staff and professional development; and environment and culture. Nineteen sites were certified as high-quality, serving 2,300 students.
Uniquely, Dallas Afterschool creates and designs Wonder Kits to fit the needs of flexible learning environments like afterschool programs. Wonder Kits were developed in response to feedback from programs about the challenges of implementing larger curriculum and the lack of time and knowledge to execute complicated activities. Using a lending library model, Wonder Kits contain all materials needed to run a hands-on, engaging activity that demonstrates a STEM concept, like building a catapult to discuss physics or a marble maze that uses gravity. In the 2016 academic year, 1,340 Wonder Kits were checked out, providing materials to serve 33,500 children with interactive learning experiences.
Also, Dallas is leading the country in helping students demonstrate and celebrate knowledge gained through summer learning programs. In an initiative launched by Mayor Mike Rawlings, the digital badges effort recognizes youth for participation in programs and gaining knowledge and skills. Badges could be used for various perks, such as gaining entry into the mayor’s internship program or jumping ahead in line at the city events.
Mayor Rawlings has pushed for boosting student achievement during his time in office. He said that poor kids are at a disadvantage. “These kids are 6,000 hours behind rich kids in what they’ve gotten to do in their lives,” he said in a media report. “We’ve got to catch that up.”
Building off the 2010 YouthPrint report, BLOCS’ partners created the Louisville Out-of-School Time Program Quality Standards to provide youth-serving agencies guidelines for ensuring positive youth programming. These minimum quality standards were developed through a collaborative effort of many BLOCS-affiliated programs and partners. They were vetted and piloted through a limited number of programs before being implemented community-wide.
As of 2014, both the Louisville Metro Government and Metro United Way now require funded programs to conduct a “Minimum OST Quality Standards Self-Assessment” and address any standards not met.
Coupled with the self-assessment, BLOCS encourages programs to use a number of tools for determining their program quality. Currently 75 afterschool program sites also participate in the Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI) study from the national Center for Youth Program Quality. In the study, participating sites use the Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA), both as an additional self-assessment tool and as an external assessment. Other data collected through this continuous improvement cycle includes satisfaction data (managers and direct youth workers), and improvement plan data. Separately, BLOCS works to collect Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) data from approximately 52 of these 75 sites using the Survey of Academic and Youth Outcomes (SAYO-Y).
Sprockets works to support afterschool quality and continuous improvement through its Activator Improvement Cycle program. The cycle is built on Saint Paul’s Framework for Youth Success and Saint Paul’s Commitment to Quality Youth Programs. Participation in the cycle helps programs think about collecting program data, creating improvement plans, and training and coaching staff. Programs complete an annual self-assessment with the nationally-recognized Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA), and have access to a number of quality and data collection tools including the Survey of Academic and Youth Outcomes (SAYO), Harvard Holistic Student Assessment, Sprockets’ shared data system, and professional development workshops.
Boston After School & Beyond is a driving force behind the adoption of a common Measurement for Quality Improvement and student skill gain. Measurement objectives include:
- Student level: Take a holistic approach to measuring individual student outcomes, focusing not only on academics but also on the skills and social-emotional attributes students need to succeed.
- Program level: Establish ways to measure program quality that are relevant, impose minimal disruption to program activities and provide rapid feedback to inform improvements.
- Between programs: Establish shared measures of accountability for programs in order to facilitate a community of learning and continuous improvement among youth-serving organizations and to help public and private funders make evidence-backed decisions about their investments.
- City-wide: Collect common set of data from the broad youth-serving field in Boston in order to spotlight examples of excellence and to draw attention to access and quality gaps that deserve attention and investment.
In 2014, 58 summer program sites in Greater Boston implemented common program quality measurement tools to consistently define, implement, and measure program-level outcomes.
Boston After School & Beyond also organizes several projects around the Achieve, Connect, Thrive (ACT) Skills Framework, which was commissioned by the Mayor’s Office, Boston Public Schools, Boston After School & Beyond, and the United Way. The ACT Framework provides a common vocabulary to connect education and youth development, as well as school, afterschool and summer learning.
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Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. (2003). Poll of Working Mothers.
Bodilly, S.J., Sloan McCombs, J., et al. (2010). Hours of Opportunity: The Power of Data to Improve After-School Programs Citywide. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.