Quality Matters When Changing Lives

Graduating on time, improving test scores, and deepening engaging learning performance are just a few of the goals that quality out-of-school time (OST) programs have for students. Studies have shown that regular participation in high quality OST programs is linked to significant gains in academic achievement and social-emotional skills. In an effort to improve quality in OST programs, Metro United Way wants to continue to measure youth skills that are needed to be successful in school, work and life.

Previously Metro United Way piloted the Survey of Academic and Youth Outcomes (SAYO) at 14 of their supported OST sites as a possible tool to begin assessing the impact that these programs have on the lives of the youth we serve. SAYO is a research-based test survey that looks at social-emotional skills and learning for youth; well-developed social-emotional skills are known to support learning in both academic and career readiness skills area. This is why it’s important to understand how youth feel about their OST program and how it has impacted their competence.

“The quality of the learning system fostered excitement in the students at our site,” said an OST site manager. “They look forward to attending a program that offers reliability and consistency.”

The success of the pilot fueled a more expansive approach to an additional 31 OST sites last spring with 370 participants from grades 4-12, giving us the first glimpse at baseline data on how youth are experiencing their programs in our community. Now we are getting ready to expand the tool even further with approximately 50 sites planning to participate in the spring of 2016!

Metro United Way continues to use tools to measure and assess OST program quality, aiming to inform programs’ decision-making and allowing for constant program quality improvement. MUW is excited for the expansion of this program that will continue to translate into improved youth outcomes across the board, which ultimately helps more youth set their goals and to achieve them!

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