What makes an out-of-school time program high quality? How does a program choose where to focus attention on improvements? How does a program align with youth development best practices?
The Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI) is a system that is designed to help youth programs strengthen their practice and improve outcomes. We know that many factors can affect a program’s quality, including staff turnover, differences in implementation at sites, professional development opportunities, and more. The YPQI is a continuous improvement framework –- meaning that the data collected is used in a low-stakes method to strengthen performance (not a high-stakes method to shift resources).
The YPQI measures program quality by examining safety, positive interaction with peers and adults, and youth engagement. The system was created by the David P. Weikart Center for Program Quality, and is nationally recognized as the leading tool funders implement to promote high-quality out-of-school time programs. And the system works! Research on the YPQI has found that it usage creates positive effects that are both sustainable and scalable, including:
- More on-site training and technical assistance
- Increased focus on instructional improvement
- Longer staff tenure
In addition, research on the YPQI found out-of-school programs that were high-quality created strong student engagement, when then improved the following youth outcomes:
- Better grade promotion
- Improved school behavior (fewer disciplinary referrals)
- Fewer days missed due to unexcused absences
The YPQI is a system that helps a youth program recognize its strengths and its areas for improvement. How your youth program works with the YQPI depends on what is right for your team. Here are the basic components to help you understand what the process involves:
- Youth PQA Intro — (optional) This free one-hour online course on the Weikart Center offers a free one-hour webinar to help orient you to the YPQI. The Institute for Youth Success also offers orientation meetings and webinars.
- Youth PQA Basics — To begin the YPQI, managers in your organization must take this course to learn the system, to understand the tool, and to learn how to conduct observations. It is offered as a one-day live workshop, or a 3-6 hour online training. The Institute for Youth Success can help schedule this training.
- Two assessments: Form A and Form B — Assessment is the core of the YPQI. Form A is an observation-based assessment, in which an assessor observes a youth worker on the job. In a “program self-assessment,” one of your staff members observes and scores another staff member (for example, an supervisor might observe a site). An “external assessment” is when a Weikart-certified assessor observes and scores your staff. Form B is an assessment of the organization’s policies and practices.
- Online Scores Reporter — After collecting YPQ data, you will need to input it into the Online Scores Reporter. The Scores Reporter will allow managers in your program to generate and view aggregated reports, as well as compare your organization’s averages to those of other nonprofits around the country. (If your involvement in the YPQA is supported by a funder, you will also be able to see how your nonprofit compares to an aggregate report of the other youth programs in a network).
- Planning with Data — After the assessments are complete, and the scores are in the system, this 6 hour workshop leads staff through understanding and using data to create program improvement plans.
- Youth Work Methods — Skill building is a central component of the improvement plans, and these 10 two-hour workshops are a fun and interactive way for front-line staff to see youth development skills in action. Each training is designed to build skills that are measured in the assessment, and is based on youth development research and practice. You can check our calendar for upcoming trainings.
- Optional additional supports — (optional) In addition to the system above, additional trainings and supports are available. IYS staff can support youth programs with development of program goals. We can deliver Quality Coaching, a four-hour training for managers. Youth Program staff that are using the system can become set up to become external assessors or trainers through the Weikart Center.
Interested in learning more?
In partnership with the Oregon Community Foundation and the Ford Family Foundation, the Institute for Youth Success at Education Northwest facilitates a professional learning community/network in Oregon that provides professional development and fosters peer-to-peer learning among youth-serving organizations who are engaging in the YPQI process.
Funders or individual programs that are interested in learning more about the Youth Program Quality Intervention can contact us to learn more about these opportunities.