Measure, Use, Improve! Data Use in Out-of-School Time

Opportunities to support young people’s learning and development are normally shared and spread across various spaces, places, and delivery modes in schools, community organizations, and families. We have robust ways to measure and evaluate learning in school systems, but how do we measure the impact of out-of-school (OST) settings?

A new book, Measure, Use, Improve! Data Use in Out-of-School Time shares the experience and wisdom from a broad cross-section of out-of-school time professionals, ranging from internal evaluators, to funders, to researchers, to policy advocates. The book’s chapters touch on a range of topics, including how to build support for learning and evaluation within out-of-school time programs, creating and sustaining continuous quality improvement efforts, authentically engaging young people in evaluation, and securing funder support for learning and evaluation.

Measure, Use, Improve! makes the case for investing in building systems of evaluation and continuous quality improvement to deepen the impact of out-of-school time programs. The book’s authors share conceptual frameworks that have helped inform their thinking, walk through practical examples of how data in out-of-school time has strengthened their organizations, and offer advice to colleagues.

Each chapter features a range of experts in OST data and evaluation, including the Forum for Youth Investment’s Trevor Davies, who contributes to a chapter on giving data a voice through coaching. Improving program quality is widely considered the ultimate goal for conducting program evaluation; however, whether the collected data can result in actual changes often remains questionable. Based on over a decade of experience in implementing a statewide evaluation system for out-of-school time programming that incorporates a coaching network, this chapter, “Giving Data a Voice through Coaching: The Michigan Example,” presents a case study that illustrates how evaluation enhanced the effectiveness and intentionality of coaching to support quality in the Michigan 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) programs.

Also of particular interest are two chapters on the role of youth in data and evaluation. The first, written by Joseph Luesse of 8Res LLC and Kim Sabo Flores of Algorhythm, “Youth in the Contemporary Evaluation Moment: Lessons from the History of Youth Participatory Evaluation,” explores the questions of:

  • Why should youth be engaged in evaluative processes?
  • Where in evaluation are youth being engaged?
  • What youth are being engaged?
  • How can youth be effectively engaged?
  • What resources are available to support youth involvement in evaluation?

The second, from Valerie Threlfall with Ekouté Consulting, focuses on the importance of collecting youth feedback and best practices for gathering high-quality feedback from youth about their experiences. The chapter also describes how two organizations, Pace Center for Girls and Boston Scores, have used youth feedback to inform their program development and learning efforts, and offers tips for getting started.

Click here to see the table of contents and order a copy.