youth development software

How the Sandbox database helps youth development practitioners learn SETS

The concepts behind the Student Evaluation and Tracking System (SETS) were conceived in the Youth Development field, so the program makes sense to youth development practitioners. That same thinking was carried over to SETS’ development as software, so it’s also easy to learn and use.

How we best learn new technology is unique to each of us, but for most, learning new tech is not a favorite weekend hobby. According to VerywellMind “some experts believe that we all suffer at least a small amount of nervousness when confronted with new technology.” A small amount? Many of us suffer a lot more than that!

All of the concepts behind SETS were developed by former teacher and afterschool director Bill Rossi who is not a techie, and his intuitive learning style has influenced everything about the SETS program.  That’s why SETS comes with a Sandbox database.

Almost a day at the beach?

That’s a stretch, and yet … one of the joys many of us experience in childhood is spending time in the sandbox. Free to play, free to experiment, free to just be. And as its name implies, SETS’ Sandbox database is a place to play around … you know, sit back, relax, sift the sand between your fingers, and get the feel of things. No pressure! When the pressure’s off you can absorb and assimilate, so it’s a great way to learn.

An example for youth development practitioners

A student’s identification screen is a good example of how the Sandbox database helps familiarize you with SETS. When you look at this screen filled with Sandbox (hypothetical) data, the fields make sense. On the screenshot below, you’ll see that the Population field is self-explanatory …

sandbox database makes learning SETS easy

If the meaning isn’t clear enough, you can click on the down arrow for that field and see other options which should clarify it:

sandbox database provides experiental learning

If you’re still in doubt, you can consult the SETS Program Director Manual for clarification. But consider the manual excerpt below.  Wouldn’t you say it would make more sense once you’ve explored SETS with the Sandbox data?


SETS asks you to specify a population when you enter a student in your database. A population groups students for data management and statistical purposes. Each student comes from only one population.

Populations may be any groupings you want for your comparative needs – they could be the sources for your students (social service organizations, schools, etc.), or age, grade level, gender, race, parents’ marital status, etc. Just keep in mind that a student’s population will determine how he is grouped in reports: SETS reports are organized by population, activity, student, and staff.

Have we made our point? Do you see how the Sandbox database can help you learn the program? For that matter, do you think most people learn best by experiencing what they’re learning? Experiential learning!

We’d love to hear your take!

youth development practitioners

Mary Helen Rossi
Mary Helen Rossi
A creative writer, Mary Helen is passionate about empowering marginalized youth, believing that everyone deserves a solid chance in life.

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