A statewide network that focuses on youth learning outside the school day is looking to improve.
Beyond School Bells is working with University of Nebraska researchers at the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools (CYFS) to strengthen after-school and summer programs.
Jeff Cole, Beyond School Bells network lead, says surveys and collecting data are part of it, but the experts are helping to redesign things too.
“We’re using a process called Design Thinking, that’s based on prototyping, very quickly, new ideas, getting them out in the field, and getting feedback,” Cole tells Nebraska Radio Network.
The goal is to enhance what students are doing in these programs.
“We’re going to be developing a toolbox that will be available to anyone across the state,” he says. “That will include ideas about programming, funding, use of data, and tools for measuring impact.”
The Nebraska Academy for Methodology, Analytics and Psychometrics within CYFS is leading the evaluation process.
Leslie Hawley, project evaluator and CYFS research assistant professor, says they are observing programs and helping professionals find ways to improve.
“To say, how are things going, what were some of the challenges that you had,” Hawley tells Nebraska Radio Network. “If someone came behind you and wanted to start an after-school program or improve their after-school program, what kind of lessons could they learn from your experiences?”
She says each program they are evaluating is different, so there will be a variety of information available in the end.
“The bottom line is they don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Hawley says. “It really cuts down on the time after-school professionals have to spend on programming, so they can get in and get the job done, and maximize the time they have with the youth, instead of doing a lot of prep work.”
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:42]