For more information please visit http://www.afterschoolnetwork.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/quality_standards.pdf
Point-of-Service Quality Standards
Safe and supportive environment The program provides a safe and nurturing environment that supports the developmental, social-emotional and physical needs of all students.
Active and engaged learning Program design and activities reflect active, meaningful and engaging learning methods that promote collaboration and expand student horizons.
Skill building The program maintains high expectations for all students, intentionally links program goals and curricula with 21st-century skills and provides activities to help students achieve mastery.
Youth voice and leadership The program provides and supports intentional opportunities for students to play a meaningful role in program design and implementation, and provides ongoing access to authentic leadership roles.
Healthy choices and behaviors The program promotes student well-being through opportunities to learn about and practice balanced nutrition, physical activity and other healthy choices in an environment that supports a healthy life style.
Diversity, access and equity The program creates an environment in which students experience values that embrace diversity and equity regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, income level, national origin, physical ability, sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression.
Programmatic Quality Standards
Quality staff The program recruits and retains high quality staff and volunteers who are focused on creating a positive learning environment, and provides ongoing professional development based on assessed staff needs.
Clear vision, mission and purpose The program has a clearly defined vision, mission, goals, and measurable outcomes that reflect broad stakeholder input and drive program design, implementation and improvement.
Collaborative partnerships The program intentionally builds and supports collaborative relationships among internal and external stakeholders, including families, schools and community, to achieve program goals.
Continuous quality improvement The program uses data from multiple sources to assess its strengths and weaknesses in order to continuously improve program design, outcomes and impact.
Program management The program has sound fiscal and administrative practices supported by well-defined and documented policies and procedures that meet grant requirements.
Sustainability The program builds enduring partnerships with the community and secures commitments for in-kind and monetary contributions.
The importance of defining quality for program stakeholders-In other words, what impact do standards have on program quality and why?
Standards have a significant impact on program quality because they address an unmet need with well-rounded ideals supportive of after-school care and summer enrichment programs. The twelve standards developed by The California Department of Education After School Division in 2011 has the influence of more than 100 educators and stakeholders to encourage strategic learning and improve quality in California’s public schools. Creating distinction on the programmatic, staff, and participant level, the twelve standards incorporate a continuous quality improvement sequence with professional guidance and strategic framework to set the foundation of improved learning for California’s school-aged children. The overall impact of the twelve standards reduces barriers affecting after-school education by enhancing student learning, atmosphere, environment, engagement, safety, skills, diversity, leadership, and behavior on the macro and micro level.
Two of the most important California quality standards ensuring high-quality programs:
Standard Number Six- Diversity, access, and equity
As addressed under the Point-of-Service quality standards, the Diversity, Access, and Equity standard are highly important because of the content of its mission statement. The Diversity, Access, and Equity standard help to reduce barriers of all factors of discrimination, which includes inclusion for all despite creed, color, ethnicity, sexuality, belief system, disability, age, gender association, and socioeconomic status. Demonstrating tolerance for all children is precious especially in a modern age where social media and politics aggravate insensitivity towards the oppressed in this nation. For some children, an after-school program may be the only solace they receive from systemic discrimination, and all children should be welcomed into an inviting environment. According to the reading by Vandell, a positive social educational environment which promotes pro-social behavior reduces the education gap which increases activity in school-aged children. A positive classroom atmosphere increases gains through reducing child absences, improves GPA, boosts self-efficacy, and progresses academic success. My field site at the Urban Art OC has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind. All children are welcomed as it is a safe place and learning environment. I have observed the staff and other children embrace each other despite their apparent differences.
Standard Number 10: Continuous Quality Improvement
Under the Programmatic Quality Standards, the Quality staff analyze data from after-school programs to access strengths and weaknesses in after-school care. This is an important standard because it helps to strengthen areas of after-school care by refining staff training, subsidizing teaching curricula, setting academic improvement goals in action, accesses the expertise of educators and stakeholders to support professional program design, and retrieves input from staff and students regarding the program failures and strengths. According to the reading by Huang & Dietel, high functioning school programs have better retention rates of staff, fewer discipline problems with students, and better decision making and plan delivery over the course of the program. My observation at the Urban Art OC, I have witnessed strong relationships between staff, students, and the core curriculum foundation. The staff at the Urban OC follows strategic planning to eliminate program failure and disobedience of the curricula from students. The overall feel of the program is very structured, without the children noticing the effort put into action to make the program a success. Administrators at Urban OC observe the incoming flow of children and the success rates of their summer camp program to make improvements for future students where necessary.