A Program Assessment System (APAS)

Ongoing since 2006 

Project Director: Julie Dennehy
Team Members: Ellen Gannett, Wendy Surr, Karen Lachance

APAS is a comprehensive evaluation system aimed at improving program quality and youth outcomes in afterschool programs. It is targeted towards programs serving the K-8 population that youth attend regularly, are well-established, and offer a range of enriching experiences. APAS includes two measurement tools—the Survey of Academic and Youth Outcomes (SAYO), and the Assessing Program Practices Tool (APT). These tools can be used together or separately depending on the specific needs of the program.

The SAYO measures outcomes in nine areas that research suggests are linked to long-term positive development, as well as academic and life success. The SAYO uses brief pre- and post-participation surveys to collect data from day school teachers and afterschool staff regarding youth participation and experiences in afterschool programs. Through a “menu” approach, programs collect data only on outcomes that are aligned with their goals and practices. The APT is designed to complement SAYO by helping programs evaluate and strengthen quality practices that research suggests are linked with SAYO outcomes. The observation tool component guides observations of program practices in order to provide a “snap shot” of what programs look like in action. The questionnaire component helps programs reflect upon the aspects of quality that are not easily observed (parent/school connections, planning and programming, etc.) The APT aims to stimulate discussion about areas of strength and areas in need of improvement in a specific program. Together, these user-friendly and affordable tools are designed to help afterschool programs improve program quality and focus on appropriate and realistic outcomes for youth. These tools were developed to help address the accountability challenge that faces afterschool programs.

With primary funding by the AT&T Family Care Development Fund, NIOST piloted their afterschool program assessment system in Atlanta, Georgia, and New Jersey. With additional funding from United Way Massachusetts Bay, and Partners in Out-of-School Time, NIOST was also able to include Boston, MA and Charlotte, NC sites. The pilot succeeded in its objectives of completing the training modules, integrating the tools into a database (KidTrax by nFocus Software), and writing an online tutorial for parts of the system.

Click here to access the APAS Brochure online.

Click here for APAS training information.

Click here to read our first brief on the results of the APAS Pilot by Sasha Stavsky and Julie Dennehy. It reflects on the benefits of coaching.

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    "NIOST has been an anchor for numerous school age care projects we do, including ASQ (After-School Quality) and Links to Learning. They are a nationally respected organization that Pennsylvania has partnered with for over 20 years."

    – Betsy O. Saatman, TA Specialist/SAC Initiatives, Pennsylvania Key

    "NIOST was a core partner in supporting the development of quality improvement systems across the nine cities that participated in The Wallace Foundation Next Generation Afterschool System-Building Initiative. The NIOST team worked well with other technical assistance partners in the initiative, always willing to pitch in and collaborate with others to make our professional learning community meetings a team effort. I truly hope the Foundation has an opportunity to partner with them in the future."

    – Priscilla M. Little, Initiative Manager, The Wallace Foundation


    "NIOST has been a leader in the out-of-school time field for as long as I can remember, and I have relied on their research, tools, and advice to improve my practice throughout my career. Their staff members are good partners and good listeners, and their influence across the country is palpable."

    – Jane Quinn, Vice President and Director of National Center for Community Schools, Children's Aid Society

    "Georgia Hall, Ellen Gannett, and the NIOST team have been instrumental in driving the healthy afterschool movement. Their dedication to quality practice, informed policy, and collective impact is instrumental in our effort to create healthier communities."

    – Daniel W. Hatcher, Director, Community Partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation

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The National Institute on Out-of-School Time

A program of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College

Wellesley Centers for Women
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481-8203 USA

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