Do you know whether your out-of-school time (OST) program is truly helping students succeed? Are you aware of areas where you could improve the quality of your program? 

Continuous quality improvement is key if you want to optimize your impact, but you can only improve if you first know how you’re doing right now.

That’s where quality assessments come in. Quality assessments provide insight into your program’s current success, identify areas for improvement, and help you track progress over time.

What are quality assessments?

Quality assessments are research-based evaluations that help ​​education services providers understand what is working well and what isn’t. In other words, quality assessments put your program to the test to see how well you’re delivering on your goals and helping students succeed.

With the right data collection and assessment tools, you can evaluate key quality domains, including:

  • Program administration
  • Youth management
  • Assessment and evaluation
  • Family engagement
  • Culture and climate
  • Curriculum and instruction

Each of these aspects of your program can contribute to—or detract from—your overall effectiveness.

You can assess these areas by collecting information via qualitative sources such as interviews and observations, as well as quantitative sources such as test scores and program metrics. Whether you’re planning for an even better afterschool program next year or you’re making adjustments on the fly for your summer program, quality assessments can empower your efforts.

How do quality assessments contribute to student success?

Ultimately, students benefit when a youth program has a strong commitment to quality assessments and continuous improvement. Identifying the wins and opportunities for growth across your program provides essential data to help you plan and deliver a program that empowers both staff and students to succeed. Let’s look at some of the specific ways conducting quality assessments help students get more out of your program.

Understand student needs and plan accordingly

Amazing youth programs involve thorough planning based on an accurate understanding of student needs. Assessments provide the insight and data needed to understand those needs. For example, if you're  partnering with a local school district, see whether the school can provide insight into student achievement gaps that your program can proactively address.

In addition to more targeted program planning, understanding student needs can also help you properly align financial and staffing resources to ensure your program is prepared to achieve your goals for student success.

Optimize your curriculum for improved student outcomes

How effectively is your curriculum helping students learn and grow? Quality assessments will help you answer that question. To start out, ensure your program curriculum complies with the relevant standards and requirements from your state and your funding partners.

You should also ensure your curriculum complements what kids are learning in school to help you achieve your student learning goals. While you can create your own curriculum, you can also take advantage of ready-made activities that are designed to enrich learning. Opting for a digital curriculum can make it easy for teachers to make every moment in the classroom count. Rather than going to waste, extra time at the end of the day can provide the perfect opportunity for a fun and meaningful activity.

Equip teachers and staff with the right skills

Successful students start with successful teachers. If you want to invest in your program participants, start by investing in your staff. Professional development can provide program teachers with data-driven guidance to help them enhance their skills. By soaking up continuing education opportunities, educators can provide a stimulating, nurturing, and supportive learning environment for the children in your program.

Conducting quality assessments during the program can help identify teachers’ strengths and pinpoint remaining opportunities for growth and continuous improvement.

Course correct with data-driven decisions

As programs evolve, there are always opportunities for improvement. Quality assessments allow administrators to track and monitor metrics that provide insight into your program’s successes and challenges so you can course correct as needed by increasing program funding, adjusting goals, and using resources more efficiently.

Without that data, the decisions and changes you make will likely be based on hunches that may be incorrect or only tell part of the story. The more data you can collect, the more informed your decisions will become. You’ll also be able to track the results of changes to see whether they improve student outcomes

Empower Success for Students and Staff with Arly

Quality assessments are an important pillar of any successful youth program. Another way you can empower success for your students and your staff is through the right tech resources and tools. Arly is a software platform designed specifically for OST programs. With a high-quality curriculum, professional development, data reporting, quality assessments, and more, Arly helps youth programs be the best they can be and make a positive impact on kids in their communities.

Learn more by requesting a demo today!