Because data make us stronger
Boston Beyond’s network has adopted a common set of measures to drive growth in student skills and program quality. Together, we use a suite of validated tools to track students’ progress, assess program effectiveness, and identify successful practices across the network.
Our measures are more holistic than standardized tests. They cover a range of program factors and learning outcomes (including crucial social-emotional skills), and they incorporate the perspectives of students and staff. We use these data to inform everything from curriculum refinements to network growth.
We measure at every level
Each year, we provide our partners with a Program Report for Improvement and System Measurement (PRISM) that compares their performance against research-informed benchmarks and other local providers. Each program uses its data to identify strengths and areas in need of improvement and to plan accordingly. As a network, we look across the data to identify outstanding challenges and practices that are getting results.
Our suite of measurement tools includes:
- Student participation: We track student enrollment and attendance to understand who we are serving and what opportunities are most effective at engaging different age groups and populations.
- Program observations: We train providers to assess their peer organizations. During program visits, observers use a research-based tool designed by the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) to assess a range of program quality factors, including student engagement and the learning climate.
- Youth surveys: Students reflect on their program experiences and self-report on their skill development, using youth-friendly holistic surveys developed by the National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) and The Partnerships in Education and Resilience (PEAR) Institute.
- Staff surveys: Educators and program staff assess individual students’ skill development and the quality of their relationships with peers and adults, using a companion survey from NIOST.
Our Partner Portal provides the infrastructure for collecting and sharing these data and more.
Data drives improvement
Measures are only as good as the change they inspire. Boston Beyond’s partners use data to drive improvements in individual programs and the network as a whole. Data help us think about:
- Who we serve: Who are we reaching and to what extent? Which programs attract which students?
- What students are learning: Are students doing better on some skills than others? How can we build in more opportunities to teach essential skills?
- Professional development: Where do we all have room to learn and grow? Which program practices can we continue to improve?
- Best practices: Which programs are showing strong results in areas where others struggle? How can we capture and share what they know?
- Where to keep innovating: Which student learning needs still elude us? Where is there room for more creative thinking?
Data help us dig deeper into every aspect of our work, marshal resources where they’re needed, and stay focused on achieving better outcomes for Boston kids.