2019 - 2022

Project Directors: Georgia Hall, Ph.D., and Kathy Schleyer, M.S., National Institute on Out-of-School Time

Funded by: William Penn Foundation

Project Summary: The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST), an action project of WCW, is working with five out-of-school time programs in Philadelphia, PA, to enhance and implement program quality assessment, literacy skill-building best practices, and continuous program quality improvement.

The emphasis on “quality first” is the foundation of NIOST’s approach to working with out-of-school time programs. Throughout this project, NIOST will work with the seven programs in Philadelphia, PA, to support a process that builds program quality and creates the conditions needed to support and elevate literacy skill-building.

To reach this objective, NIOST will assess how the programs are currently implementing research-based best practices and literacy skill-building. Researchers from NIOST will interview staff at the seven program sites to understand their unique needs and develop an individualized coaching plan and set of objectives. Staff at each program site will then be trained to use the APAS System -- a suite of three research-based measurement tools for out-of-school time programs developed by NIOST -- to improve their program quality and youth outcomes. Literacy specialists will develop coaching plans for the programs to implement best practices for literacy development, integrate literacy into their existing programming, and engage families and dual language learners. Staff from each site will also engage in a ‘community of practice’ to learn together and share their knowledge.

The National Institute on Out-of-School Time (NIOST) is partnering over three years with five afterschool programs in Philadelphia, PA to improve the quality of programming, specifically to enable literacy-rich environments for kindergarten through 3rd grade participants. These improvements are made by growing staff capacity around activity design, planning, and delivery using program quality assessment practices, coaching, and continuous program improvement approaches.

As part of this project, NIOST has provided ongoing one-on-one coaching to support programs in targeting quality and literacy improvements. It has conducted virtual community of practice meetings with participating programs to learn, plan, and support each other. It has designed virtual literacy training to give providers tools and strategies for immediate implementation. It has also surveyed program staff about literacy skill development, and hosted and curated an online platform for ongoing access to resources and recorded training sessions.

In a survey, program leaders said that access to virtual coaching supports, obtaining useful resources, and connecting with other providers were the most beneficial aspects of their participation in the project.

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