The Youth Program Quality Assessment (PQA) is a validated instrument designed to measure the quality of youth programs and identify staff training needs. It has been used in community organizations, schools, camps and other places where youth have fun, work and learn with adults. The Youth PQA is suitable for programs that serve youth in grades 4 – 12. For programs serving children in grades K – 6, the School-Age PQA is developmentally appropriate.

The Youth and School-Age PQAs evaluate the quality of youth experiences as youth attend workshops and classes, complete group projects and participate in meetings and program activities. The Youth and School-Age PQA help staff see what is really happening in programs, identify areas where practices are benefiting youth development positively and identify areas for growth.

What does the Youth and School-Age PQA measure?

Specific elements of best practice are measured with in seven domains:

  • Safe environment
  • Supportive environment
  • Interaction
  • Engagement
  • Youth-centered policies and practices
  • High expectations for youth and staff
  • Access
How do the Youth and School-Age PQA work?

The Youth and School-Age PQA are evidence-based assessment tools. Evidence is gathered through observation and interview. Program staff and/or a trained outside assessors observe program activities, take notes and then conduct an interview with a program administrator. Notes, observations and interview data are used as evidence to score the PQA items which are then combined to create an overall program quality profile.

What do I need to get started?

There are three pieces to the Youth or School-Age PQA that are all available for free download:

  • Handbooks describe how to assess your program and use the data you produce.
  • Form A: Program Offering Items is used to evaluate the quality of the program’s youth experiences through observations of activities and interactions between youth and adults.
  • Form B: Organization Items assesses the organizational features of the program, such as policies and practices, staff development and strategies for program improvement.

Supplemental PQA instruments are also available for free download. Learn more about the PQA or download the tool.

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