Program Assessment Tool Goes Free Online

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A well-vetted assessment tool used by hundreds of after-school programs across New York state to examine the quality of their services is now free and available online to youth-serving organizations nationwide.

The New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) Quality Self-Assessment (QSA) Tool uses a 10-point framework for measuring quality in programming and administration. Findings obtained through use of the QSA Tool can inform discussions on mission, vision, partnerships, sustainability, communication and service delivery – discussions that play a key role in creating action plans for continuous program improvement, according to NYSAN.

The QSA Tool was designed for use by program staff, participants and stakeholders, so programs don’t have to rely on outside observers or hired evaluators. (For a review of the tool, see “Assessing After-School Programs,” August 2005.)

A print version of the tool has been publicly available for several years. In 2005, New York’s Department of Education began requiring all after-school programs receiving federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers funds to conduct the NYSAN self-assessment twice a year in conjunction with their federally mandated annual performance reports. Since then, the tool has been adapted for use in several states, including Missouri, California and New Mexico.

NYSAN’s website provides additional resources, such as strategies, examples and best practices from after-school practitioners on beginning a self-assessment, engaging stakeholders in the process, and using findings to address areas that need improvement. Links to articles, templates for surveys, handbooks and forms, and definitions of the quality indicators at each performance level are also included.

NYSAN is one of 38 statewide after-school networks funded by the C.S. Mott Foundation. The online QSA Tool and User’s Guide is available at

Contact: NYSAN (646) 943-8670.