Quality Standards │ Building Quality in Afterschool
Quality standards are a foundational aspect of an afterschool system, where the goal is to ensure that all youth have access to high-quality programs. Quality standards can unite a diverse afterschool community by establishing a shared vision of quality that matches the unique resources and needs of each state. These standards also advance a common language to discuss elements of quality. With a shared vision and common language in hand, the afterschool community can begin to offer supports—professional development, assessments, and more—that are designed to support quality afterschool programs.
Developing quality standards is an investment that requires time, talent, and fiscal resources. The return—healthy, safe, and engaged youth—is well worth the effort. More than half of the 50 state afterschool networks have developed or are in the process of developing quality standards (see the Landscape of Quality). The resources on this page are intended to support networks that are developing, implementing, and refining statewide quality standards. We present the information in four phases:
- Plan: Recruit and coordinate stakeholders to engage in the quality standards development process.
- Design: Outline the quality standards and solicit feedback from stakeholders.
- Disseminate: Share the quality standards as broadly as possible, with a focus on maximizing utility and direct implementation of the standards.
- Refine: Develop a timeline to revise and improve the quality standards to reflect changing contexts and knowledge gained.
The approach described in the Path to Quality is collaborative and emphasizes the importance of input, beginning with planning from stakeholders in the field. Reading each phase—from Plan to Refine—will give you a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to develop, implement, and improve statewide quality standards. You also can jump into the phase that meets your immediate needs based on where you are in the process of developing quality standards.