Raising the Bar on After-School Quality

What does it take to build a city-wide system of after-school programs that meet a high standard for effectiveness?building_citywide_systems_for_quality-coverjpeg

In its latest publication, Building Citywide Systems for Quality: A Guide and Case Studies for Afterschool Leaders, the Forum for Youth Investment (FYI) looks at the experiences of six cities, including Austin and New York, in building systems devoted to improving program quality.

On a webinar co-sponsored by The Wallace Foundation, National League of Cities, Forum for Youth Investment, and the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS), presenters discussed common elements of these city-wide quality improvement systems, including:

1) A shared definition of quality. There should be agreement within and across organizations about what constitutes high quality and common language used to reflect that standard.

2) A focus on continuous improvement. In contrast to traditional accountability methods such as publicizing ratings and making funding contingent on performance, a continuous improvement approach sets a standard for high-quality performance, makes use of an assessment tool, and offers aligned supports for improvement such as planning, coaching and training.

3) Information system(s). The quality improvement system can only be effective if it leverages relevant data from assessments, participation tracking, and student outcomes.

The process of building a quality improvement system can be divided into three stages: forming a work plan and engaging stakeholders; designing and building support for a continuous improvement model; and adjusting, expanding and sustaining the system. These resources provide a wealth of help:

  • CBASS and FYI highlight the value of adopting common youth-, program- and system-level measures for quality and impact in Speaking in One Voice.

This post originally appeared in the ExpandED Exchange.



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