Partnership Council Series #2: Measuring Outcomes through Shared Data

PC Blog grey text_1From 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., youth across Boston are challenging their minds in the classroom. But when the bell rings at 2:30 p.m., many youth stay at school or go to local community centers to continue learning and to develop new skills and interests.

Boston After School & Beyond is working with program providers, Boston Public Schools, and local funders to design ways to measure student growth and learning not just through academics but through the diverse array of elements important to healthy child development. Youth participate in many different programs and activities throughout the year and all over the city; connecting them all is a particular challenge. Conveying the progress, or struggles, youth have in the classroom to after school programs is essential to making sure they receive the extra support they need for healthy development.

So, how do you connect the work youth are doing inside and outside of the classroom? How can we make sure a tutoring program knows how their students are doing in the classroom to focus after school time on the right subject areas?

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The School Committee’s recent vote to make State Student ID (SASID) directory information takes one big step towards answering that question. This change means that Boston will be able to track youth by one unique identifier through all their various activities to have a complete view of a youth’s educational experiences.

Empowering educators and program staff with data on what is happening during the rest of a youth’s day means we can build a stronger network to support that youth’s development. Linking student information through one identifier meansteachers and program staff can align their curriculums and offer specific supports based on student need. This integrated system opens up the opportunity to match student participation in out-of-school programming with student learning and motivation in the classroom over time. Imagine being able to look at a graduating BPS class and know how many hours of OST programming students were engaged in, and whether that participation related to a difference in grades or post-secondary education plans from peers who did not participate in such opportunities?

Many questions still remain, but with the engagement of a variety of stakeholders in the Data Strategy subgroup of the Partnership Council, Boston is well on its way to answering those questions.  Treating a youth’s day as one continuous and integrated learning experience, instead of separate segments will also allow students to see their experiences throughout the day as such.

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