The Best Assessment for Youth Development Programs

If you and your teachers think student assessments are senseless, you’re in good company.

In fact, the majority of teachers we talk with tell us they don’t like to do them, saying the metrics feel so generic they’re pointless … they’re also a chore to use.

But you know that you should be assessing students, right? You know that if you want sustainable funding, you have to do assessments. Why? Well for starters, assessing your students will give you the data you need to prove those great stories you have about your students’ success.

Youth development assessment data proves it!

student-assessment-storiesFunders today hear a lot of great student success stories, so you need to ‘prove it’ with data. Let’s say you have a great story about Jack who’s done a 180 since he came into your program. If you can provide the data on how Jack has changed, you’ll connect those changes to your program.

To make your data count you need to collect assessments from two or more sources. That way, your assessment is not just a single perspective. That’s why SETS contains three assessments:

  1. the teachers’ assessments of their students
  2. student behavioral assessments from ‘significant others’ like parents or social workers who see the student often, and
  3. the students’ assessments of themselves.

The data will tell you and funders in finite terms how your students are doing. And isn’t that the sure proof of the value of your program?

Why assessing your teachers helps you get sustainable funding too

You also need to assess your teachers if you want a successful program with sustainable funding. Why? Because it will give you some of the oversight you need for a solid, effective program that gets funder respect.

Consistent and uniform teacher assessment will tell you a lot about your individual teachers. You’ll be able to discover who’s most effective and who needs more training, for example. You’ll also get a clearer picture of how your program is operating. (Take a tour and we’ll fill in the details).

Teacher and student assessments give you great program feedback

assess-teachers-and-studentsWait, wait, what? That’s right, your teacher assessments, combined with student assessments, will give you a gold mine of information about what’s working, what’s not working, and why. And with SETS, you’ll get that information in real-time, so you’ll be able to pivot on a dime before it’s too late.

Here’s a simple example. Let’s say your new teacher Shannon looks like a great teacher. She does a lot of things right:

  • she’s always on time and submits timely reports
  • she’s friendly with students and their parents

So you’re pretty sure she’s going to be a great addition to your staff, and you’ve been looking forward to sitting in on one of her classes.

But when you sit in on her class you notice:

  • she talks a lot, so much that the students are mostly quiet and not engaged
  • her instructions are so vague that most of the students don’t know what they’re supposed to do
  • the students leave looking disinterested or even dejected.

Come to think of it, that explains why the assessments for her students look so blah.

Aren’t you glad you’re assessing students and teachers?

Fortunately, if you’re using SETS: Student Evaluation and Tracking System, a real-time assessment tool, you’ve learned the truth before any serious problems. What’s more, if you’ve spent time with the Teacher Observation tool, you know you can show Shannon how to use this to improve her teaching. (More on that in our post Why SETS is a Teacher Training Tool).

When the student assessment makes sense, it’s no longer a chore

So, piggy-backing off that last thought, here’s our final point: student assessment doesn’t have to feel senseless and if you use SETS, it won’t. The points SETS uses to assess students include things like students’ ability to:

  • focus and concentrate
  • understand directions
  • communicate their needs.

The teacher assessment scale has 15 metrics in all, great points for teachers to observe in students. Even better, by being aware of these points teachers can use them to support students’ strengths and weaknesses.

We created SETS after 20 years of after-school programming. We had reviewed every product on the market and weren’t happy with any of them, so once we had a little time we worked with software engineers to create SETS.  (Well, more than a little time … years of thought and development have gone into SETS).

SETS makes sense, and it will help you get sustainable funding just like it did us. It has a 30-day guarantee so you’ve everything to gain, risk-free.

Would you like a tour? We’re at your service. Or just get started with SETS today!

Merge Education

Mary Helen Rossi is Co-Director of Merge Education, which grew out of 20 years of after-school fine arts mentoring to over 2,500 challenged young people. Merge’s SETS software reflects this experience: as one client said, “It’s clear that a lot of thought and love went into SETS!”

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.