Each community has it’s own unique fingerprint and is a living, breathing entity that changes over time. Continually communicate with and assess the needs of your population. By surveying families, youth, and teachers, you can get a picture of where your program strengths lie and areas for improvement, which informs your overall goals.
Youth: What types of programs do they enjoy? What programs do they want to see more of? How do they want information about the OST program communicated to them? What barriers to participation do they have?
Families: For parents, what types of programs do they think their children attend? What programs do they want to see youth participate in? What programs would they participate in as a family or adult programing (if applicable)? How do they want information about the OST program communicated to them? What barriers to participation do they have?
Educators and Staff: How can the OST program can link support in-school learning by linking to the school day? Are there gaps in what is being offered in the school day that can be met by OST?
It is best to have a formal way of gaining feedback so that you are able to draw a large net and gain valuable data. Two of the most popular ways of doing that are through surveys (both paper and electronic) and focus groups. Survey Monkey and Google Forms are two popular free resources for electronic surveys. There are also other ways to let participants, their families, staff and stakeholders know that your door is always open. Regularly asking for their comments and feedback in communications is also important. Ideas include constant calls for feedback in newsletters, materials that are distributed, such as schedules and providing a comment box.
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The National Institute for Out-of-School Time (NIOST) has developed a three-part assessment tool to help out-of-school time programs determine program quality and outcomes. A Program Assessment System (APAS), is research-based and can be customized. The three tools are broken out according to audience and the scope of the program. They can be used alone on in conjunction with one another.
The Survey of Academic and Youth Outcomes (SAYO) S and T: Use SAYO-S&T to measure any of eight youth outcome areas linked to positive youth development, such as Engagement in Learning, Relations with Adults, Relations with Peers, Problem Solving, Communication, Critical Thinking, Perseverance, Self-Regulation, Leadership, Homework, Academic Performance
The Survey of Academic and Youth Outcomes (SAYO) Y: Use SAYO-Y to survey youth in areas of Program Experiences, Future Expectations, Sense of Competence
The Assessment of Program Practices Tool (APT): Use APT to measure the quality of your program, identify the areas where you are succeeding, and pinpoint areas to improve. APT will give you a clear picture of your program by collecting data on practices that are linked to key youth outcomes in areas of Learning and Skill Building, Program Organization and Structure and Supportive Social Environment
The program is free after an initial training has been completed, which has an associated cost. For more information can be found here.