Kim Sabo Flores on Using Rubrics to Support Positive Youth Development

My name is Kim Sabo Flores, and I am the associate director of Thrive Foundation For Youth. Over the past ten years, the Foundation has partnered with leading youth development researchers, including Peter Benson, Bill Damon, Carol Dweck, Richard Lerner, and David Yaegar, to create a body of knowledge and an evidenced-based tool-kit (Step-It-Up-2-Thrive) that promotes thriving in youth. At its core, our approach is youth-driven and nurtures the ongoing learning and reflection of both youth and adult staff members. This is accomplished by using a set of rubrics, developed in concert with Dr. Richard Learner, that support youth and adults to stop and reflect on a young person’s goal-directed skills and the “Six Cs” of positive youth development. These rubrics are incorporated at given points in Step-It-Up-2-Thrive lessons.

Hot Tip: Rubrics are terrific tools for three reasons:

#1 They Promote Intentional Dialogue and Reflection Between Youth and Adults: Rubrics are a terrific way to engage youth and adults in explicit dialogue and reflection about their work together. As adults and youth use rubrics to ignite their conversations, they become even more intentional in their work, develop a common language, and create targeted strategies that are deeply meaningful to youth.

#2 They Are Robust Evaluation Measures: Rubrics are terrific evaluation tools because they capture youth and adult perspectives, at multiple points in time, about a given youth’s development.

#3 Rubrics Support Staff Development: The explicit language of the rubrics allows staff to observe and talk about youth within a similar framework. Rubrics become a terrific staff development strategy when staff debate vignettes of youth in a process that calibrates them to think similarly about evidence of youth behavior patterns, allowing them to identify strengths and challenges that can be used to drive programming.

Rad Resource:

All of the rubrics are being scientifically validated by Tufts University. They can be previewed on the Step-It-Up-2-Thrive website. The pilot data is showing rubrics are accurate measures of the six Cs of positive youth development and intentional self-regulation, otherwise referred to as goal-directed behavior. The Tufts team is currently conducting phase two of its study to explore the measure’s validity at capturing growth over time. This study should be completed by early 2012. All revised measures will then be released to the public domain and available on the website, at no cost.

By summer 2012, Step-It-Up-2-Thrive will be offering rubric certification that will give you all the tools and skills necessary to calibrate staff members. To learn more, join us during our AEA session on Saturday, November 5th, entitled: From Positive Youth Development to Full Potential: Rubrics That Shift Practice and Evaluation. Contact me to join our Thrive mailing list at:

This contribution is from the aea365 Tip-a-Day Alerts, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to Want to learn more from Kim and colleagues? They’ll be presenting as part of the Evaluation 2011 Conference Program, November 2-5 in Anaheim, California.

1 thought on “Kim Sabo Flores on Using Rubrics to Support Positive Youth Development”

  1. Have used rubrics and participatory evaluation with youth throughout my tenure as an evaluator and have found it to be an important way to build capacity and ownership over information–transforming it to knowledge for social change. I look forward to learning more about the Thrive rubrics as I was able to review them awhile back in my role with World Vision and see them as having great promise for work with youth around the world.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.