The Youth Program Quality Assessment (PQA), School-Age Program Quality Assessment and several extensions (STEM, Arts, Academic Climate, Health and Wellness) were designed to assess the quality of learning environments and to identify staff training needs. These are the field-leading quality assessments for out-of-school time organizations, in part because you and many others have found them useful. In the past, these instruments have only been available – at cost – from the Weikart Center at the Forum for Youth Investment. We are pleased to share these tools as pdf downloads, subject to the following recommendations and terms.
Youth and School-Age Program Quality Assessment (PQA)
Recommendations for Use
When using any of the PQAs, we recommend that you consult the Youth Program Quality Assessment Handbook and that you, or someone on your team, consider attending a one-day PQA Basics training. Evidence concerning the reliability and validity of the PQAs was produced using very specific methods and the handbook and training are endorsed by the Weikart Center as an introduction to these methods. In applications of the PQAs where rater precision is required, additional External Assessor Reliability Training and supports are available and recommended.
When the PQAs are used as part of the Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI), the quality of staff instruction is known to improve (http://cypq.org/ypqi). For quality improvement applications of the PQAs, we recommend the YPQI sequence of four core practices – quality assessment, improvement planning, performance feedback, and staff training for specific instructional skills – be implemented by site-based teams. Training and technical assistance supporting the YPQI are available from the Weikart Center (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org).
You agree to the following terms when you download the PDFs for the Program Quality Assessments. You do not have permission to sell copies of the PQAs. You do not have permission to make any derivative materials using any part of the content within without explicit written permission from the Forum for Youth Investment. You are permitted to print, copy, and share the tool within your organization or program, so long as the End User License Agreement on the back page of the tool remains intact. Click here to read the full terms of the End User License Agreement.
With this in mind, you are free to use the Program Quality Assessment in your program or organization.
Charles Smith, Vice President of Research, Forum for Youth Investment and Executive Director, David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality
Karen Pittman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Forum for Youth Investment
Supplements to the PQA
At this time, the supplements provided below are not appropriate for high stakes uses. Scores on these supplements should not trigger consequences that observed staff experience in a negative way. However, these measures are suitable for purposes of performance feedback to staff in low stakes conditions. These tools can serve a positive educational purpose and support continuous improvement planning and action. The supplements to the Youth PQA are available to other practitioners, system administrators and researchers at no charge.
During the summer of 2011, the Providence After School Alliance (PASA) sponsored The AfterZone Summer Scholars Program – a program in which nine community-based organizations partnered with Providence School District teachers and PASA to develop and deliver nine different summer courses from the fields of environmental science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (“STEM”) to 250 Providence Middle School youth. Ten student cohorts, each consisting of 25 students, spent two days per week on site at a school focusing on intense math instruction and two days per week in the field with one of the nine partner organizations. Two instructors moved with them at all times from the classroom to the field and back to make connections between the two settings. In order to understand the quality of the Summer Scholars program and build upon its already successful quality improvement system for school year after school programs, PASA contracted with the Weikart Center to develop an observation-based measure of instructional practices to support continuous improvement during STEM programming and conduct a preliminary analysis of its reliability and validity based on data collected during AfterZone Summer Scholars program.
In 2009, the American Camp Association (ACA) contracted with the Weikart Center to develop the Camp Program Quality Assessment (Camp PQA). Like the Youth PQA, the Camp PQA is designed to support a robust assessment process that can be used under a range of conditions and for a range of purposes. The Camp PQA is flexible enough to have valid application as (1) a self-assessment by internal staff teams, (2) a monitoring and feedback tool for supervisory staff, and (3) a quality metric for external evaluation and research.
The Camp PQA consists of 3 forms.
- FORM A: Program offerings. This observational form is designed for programs that youth attend for a set time with a set purpose. These may be referred to as programs, clubs, workshops, classes, etc. An example: arts & crafts 10:30 to noon on Tuesday. Data collectors will observe and score 3-5 program offerings (45-90 minutes each) in an assessment visit.
- FORM A2: Informal climate. This observational form is designed to capture youth experiences in non-program offering times. Examples include meal times, transition times, room group time. Data collectors will score 3-5 informal time observations (10 minutes each) in an assessment visit.
- FORM B: Camp structure and administration. This form is intended to capture how camp structure and administration support program quality. Data collectors interview the camp director (30-60 minutes) or other appropriate person.
The Health and Wellness supplements are complementary additions to the Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) that focus explicitly on nutrition, physical activity, and mental health and resiliency. They are designed with some flexibility so that a variety of types of programs can use them. They were developed in partnership with PrimeTime Palm Beach County. Health and wellness are broad concepts that all programs for youth and children should affect positively in some way. However, increasingly funders, providers, parents, and staff are interested in quality programs that address health and wellness in explicit ways, as well as in assuring that programs with a broad range of structures and content are contributing to the health and well-being of the children or youth who attend them.
The Health and Wellness PQA will be piloted in Palm Beach in fall 2012. Stay tuned for findings and research. Contact Barb Hillaker if you are interested in conducting a pilot in your network.
In fall 2011, the Weikart Center partnered with Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education to develop a tool for use in their afterschool programs. The tool was piloted in a few sites, and the pilot will continue in fall of 2012. Stay tuned for findings and research. Contact Barb Hillaker if you are interested in conducting a pilot in your network.