Quality Standards: Refine│ Building Quality in Afterschool

Minnesota’s Ignite Afterschool Network recommends that states think about designing quality standards as a tool that people want to interact with. Think of the final product as a tool that inspires and excites youth program staff to strengthen their program.

Your state has successfully designed a set of quality standards for the afterschool field, and practitioners are now using the standards across the state to improve their program practices. But are you really done? As the field advances, you may need to adapt the standards or add new components for shifting content or practice priorities. You also may find that some standards begin to feel unnecessary or cumbersome. We recommend that you revisit your quality standards work and refine as needed.

Ongoing Review

The Indiana Afterschool Network recommends that states continue to take risks with their refinement and development processes. When you do, more funding appears, more people invest time and energy, and you will see more partnerships and more strategic conversations internally!

Having a regular time to reconvene the standards development committee allows your state network to review and refine the quality standards. Remember that refinement also can be about making the standards more user-friendly (e.g., more “fun”) and better aligning them with the priorities and needs of state practitioners.

This committee also can be part of the ongoing design and adoption of aligned tools and materials to support continuous improvement efforts.

Share Best Practices

As you continue to develop and refine, the California Afterschool Network lead reminds you to “give yourself time; this is not easy work.” It took California two years of development before the quality standards were approved and released by the California Department of Education.

You learned from other networks and their quality standards development work. Now that you have successfully developed your state’s standards, it is time to pay it forward and share your process with networks that are still working to plan, design, disseminate, or refine their quality standards. Share your story at national or regional conferences, post your development process story on your website, and share templates or tools that were helpful to your design process so that others can build on your good work. We would love to post your examples and resources on this Path to Quality website. Please e-mail us with your documents to share.