New York develops an afterschool quality framework and assessment tool

By Bronwyn Bevan - March 2011


Siaca, J. L. (2010). High-impact afterschool for all. Afterschool Matters, 11, 1–5.

There is growing attention being paid to the quality of afterschool programs, as well as the need to develop assessment tools that can guide investment, design, supervision, and growth of afterschool programs. In this article, the author describes the process and result of a statewide effort in New York to develop an afterschool quality framework and assessment tool. The framework—which consists of 10 essential program quality elements, each with a list of specific quality indicators—has been adopted throughout the state and in other states across the country. The 10 elements in the New York framework are: environment and climate; administration and organization; relationships; staffing and professional development; programming and activities; linkages between school and afterschool; youth participation and engagement; parent, family, and community partnerships; program growth and sustainability; and measuring outcomes and evaluation. The indicators are not provided in the article.

In addition to developing the framework and indicators, the team developed a Program Quality Self-Assessment (QSA) Tool that allows program leaders and stakeholders to reflect on their practices and designs. The tool does not require an external observer or evaluator. There may be a benefit therefore to programs that are seeking to create embedded reflection and assessment strategies for their programs. (This can be done in conjunction with other external evaluation efforts.)

A survey of users of the Framework and QSA Tool found several benefits reported by large and small, urban and rural afterschool programs. The leading benefit was that the tool "successfully guided users through the processes of both assessing quality and creating an action plan that fosters a shared sense of ownership and accountability among program stakeholders" (p. 3). The article states that survey respondents also reported that using the tool helped them in fundraising efforts and helped to build relationships with schools. Three-quarters of respondents said that they made specific changes to their programs based on the results of using the tool.

The author writes that the 10 elements they describe map onto the six domains identified in a meta-analysis of eight research studies and existing program quality frameworks (see Palmer, Anderson, & Sabatelli, 2009).

The second edition of the NYSAN quality framework and QSA Tool is being released in 2010. For more information on using or adapting the quality framework, user's guide, or QSA Tool, contact NYSAN at 646-943-8670 or