Independent, third-party assessment that quantifies accomplishments and identifies areas for improvement is what can transform a good program into an exceptional one. And investigating what makes full-time-learning programs work can lead us to that new day for learning, when all kids have access to the people and programs they need to flourish.
In 2004, the Market Street Research firm explored middle school youth's participation in after-school programs in Providence, Rhode Island. This research revealed both the need for improvement in the quality of Providence's after-school programs and the importance of an intermediary organization to assist in providing that quality. The Providence After School Alliance became that organization, developing a set of standards and indicators to demonstrate quality improvement.
In partnership with the High/SCOPE Educational Research Foundation, PASA also developed the Rhode Island Program Quality Assessment Tool, which all providers of after-school programs can use to assess themselves on specific standards and indicators and to track their improvement over time. The tool is used by all program participants across the state and by more than two dozen of PASA's program partners. In addition, PASA's programs have access to a citywide data-sharing system that tracks enrollment, participation, and retention to help measure success.
PASA is currently in the middle of a three-year evaluation conducted by Public/Private Ventures, the results of which will be available sometime in 2010.
What is certain so far is that prior to PASA's inception in 2005, less than 400 middle school youth were engaged in high-quality after school programming. Today, PASA serves 1,800-plus middle school students each year in their AfterZones, which is about one-third of the middle school population citywide; about 35 percent of those students attend the programs three or more days per week.
Read more about PASA's quality-improvement strategies.