Why is SETS so Affordable (is there something wrong with it?)

“SETS looks like a great after-school assessment software… but  it costs peanuts compared to the other evaluation tools out there… why?”

We get this reaction a lot, so we thought we’d better clarify.

We developed this software after 20 years teaching at-risk youth after-school because we needed to evaluate student outcomes if we wanted to keep growing. Like you, we struggled to:

  • get sustainable funding
  • compete with the big guys
  • find an evaluation tool that made sense to teachers and staff so we could compete

But here’s the thing. As we developed SETS, we realized we could create a tool that would work for a variety of after-school programs. Only sensible, right? Well, one thing led to another and when it began to increase our own funding, we knew for sure that sets could empower other small after-school programs too.

This may sound like sales talk to you, but as we say in our introduction to the SETS Overview video on the Merge home page, we believe smaller programs that individualize their instruction are uniquely effective with their students.

So, if small programs are going to use SETS, we’d better keep it affordable. There are also a few “nuts and bolts” reasons why it’s so affordable. Here they are:

  • we haven’t put SETS in the cloud (it lives on your PC)
  • we don’t have scores of salespeople
  • we give the tours ourselves

I hope that answers at least a part of the question! You might also want to know why and how SETS was created, and a bit about what it does. Read on.

How (and why) SETS was created

Working with social workers, other teachers, therapists and software developers, educator Bill Rossi created SETS after 20 years in the after-school field.

We have looked at all of the available tools over those years, but they are expensive, complicated, and often track more superficial, generic skills.

They don’t track what we think are the most important skills and abilities that students need to succeed in life.  This leads us to what is most unique about SETS. SETS is a very effective youth empowerment tool.

SETS as a youth empowerment tool

Lifelong teacher Bill Rossi believes that the most essential and potent way to empower students is by developing their ability to learn. In fact, he believes students should be empowered to self-educate … but that’s for a future post. Suffice it to say that if students can’t learn well, they won’t be successful (or happy) in life.

So, when Rossi created SETS, he built the Student Observation Scale around the skills and abilities that everyone needs in order to learn. He calls them the Principles of Empowerment. There are 15 skills in all, including the ability to:

  • teamworking
  • listen well
  • understand directions
  • critical thinking
  • tolerate frustration
  • persevere

These “soft skills” are being seen as even more important as the world becomes increasingly digital. So, this one way SETS is unique.

SETS helps create a wrap-around environment

ETS incorporates and reports on an array of assessments from a variety of sources:

  • goal setting and recording
  • a Student Observation assessment by your program teacher
  • a Self-Esteem assessment for student self-assessment
  • an Assessment Scale for student assessment by significant others to evaluate students
  • opportunities for in-depth teacher input on students (“Profiles”) which helps satisfy human services departments
  • notes about any changes in student’s lives that may affect their ability to progress
  • and other opportunities to incorporate information on all important areas of students’ lives

This variety provides an in-depth view of the student that gives you great program oversight and demonstrates to funders that your in-depth approach is providing significant results. Social workers consider this an essential component of a wrap-around environment.

Merge Education is for youth

At Merge, we really are in this for the youth. Try SETS, and you’ll get it.

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!”