For Kids Only Builds Data Bridges with Schools
January 9, 2013
This month BOSTnet wanted to take some time to look at how For Kids Only Afterschool is using and sharing data to strengthen and define its relationships with community schools. We spoke with Briana Kneeland, Director of Development, who feels that having a Site Director - who spends a minimum of two administrative hours on site outside of program time each day - is vital to strong relationships. FKO has found that having an identified point person at each school site is critical to ensure ongoing sharing, reflection and communication of data with their counterpart(s). Regular communication around outcome-driven data with school principals, teachers and guidance counselors builds trust and mutual respect, while also showing the intentionality embedded in out of school time program activities and how they are connected to student growth and success. A good example of this communication can be seen with the sharing of data from the SAYO and APT assessment tools - part of the Afterschool Program Assessment System (APAS) designed by NIOST - which are complementary tools that allow programs to take stock of observable practices and look at changes in students related to program participation. Additionally, due to their involvement in the Summer Learning Collaborative this past summer, and a significant independent effort as well, FKO has held productive conversations with school personnel about their effort to stem summer learning loss, resulting in the sharing of Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) outcome data.
A strong example of data sharing, shared with us by Deborah Kneeland Keegan, Executive Director of For Kids Only Afterschool, can be seen in FKO's collaboration with the Everett Public Schools. Through their involvement with the Massachusetts 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, afterschool program educators and school day teachers share data with one another to better inform, plan and deliver student improvement. Schools participate in the SAYO assessment process (classroom teachers complete the SAYO-T tool) and share their attendance, demographic information, and MCAS results for afterschool participants, allowing the program staff to compile that with afterschool attendance, SAYO and APT results.
The challenges posed by data sharing on this scale are multiple, but one of the greatest is concerns over confidentiality. As part of orientation to For Kids Only Afterschool, families are asked to sign an information release form, allowing information about their child's performance to be shared and discussed. This underscores the importance FKO places on the program-school relationship for the families, and helps to build the three-way relationship between schools, parents and programs that is necessary for this enterprise.
Relationship building is an ongoing process needing constant attention, as families join programs and program and school personnel change. For Kids Only Afterschool has found that data sharing not only leads to more robust program assessment, but higher quality as it helps them maintain and grow vital school partnerships.