Hello, I’m Andrea Beesley, managing director in the education division at IMPAQ International, Through reliable evidence, IMPAQ helps governments, businesses, foundations, nonprofits, and universities enhance their programs and policies. Our primary markets are health, workforce development, social programs, education, and international development.
Our experience evaluating out-of-school-time (OST) curricula has given us the opportunity to work with many dynamic organizations and dedicated staff who support youth learning and recreation after the school day or during the summer. We’ve recently been reflecting on what we’ve learned about recruiting and working with OST programs.
- Coming from a day school evaluation background, I tend to think of recruiting as something best done as early as possible. We have found that some OST programs are not able to commit to participating in a study several months ahead of time, because they were anticipating leadership, staff, funding, and enrollment changes shortly before their annual startup date that could affect their ability to participate. Recruiting shortly before implementation worked best.
- When scheduling staff professional development, we found that summer workshops before fall program startup were often not feasible because staff had not yet been hired. It was better to schedule them after school had started. Many afterschool program staff had other jobs during the day, so Saturday sessions were the most practical.
- Youth and staff turn over frequently in OST programs, and youth attendance is often intermittent. Therefore it is important to use a design that does not depend on a large percentage of group members being present for both pre-program and post-program measures, or on youth attending every session of a curriculum implementation.
- State afterschool networks can provide invaluable assistance in recommending, recruiting, and communicating with OST programs. It is helpful to partner with them, consult with them during the design and implementation of an evaluation, and provide sufficient funding in the evaluation budget for their work.
The 50 State Afterschool Network can link you to the network in each state.
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