Arizona Quality Standards Assessment Tool
Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence and the Valley of the Sun United Way collaborated with community leaders and out-of-school time stakeholders to develop the Arizona Quality Standards Assessment Tool (AzQSAT) for Out-of-School Time Programs. The AzQSAT is a comprehensive self-assessment tool designed specifically for out-of-school time programs in Arizona. It allows programs to assess quality and measure progress internally without the pressure of an external evaluation. The AzQSAT is now accessible online at http://www.azqsat.com.
The AzQSAT allows programs to create their own accounts giving them access to use the tool to measure their program’s quality in the same seven focus areas outlined by the Arizona Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs. The new software will also score each program’s performance in the seven focus areas and provide specific resources that a program can then use to create a continuous quality improvement plan. A proposed quality improvement plan template is also available online.
The second step of a three-step continuous quality improvement process, the AzQSAT builds on step 1, the Arizona Quality Standards, by helping programs to further identify and refine their strengths and areas of improvement. Step 3 will involve the development of a comprehensive professional development system for out-of-school time program providers and staff.
OST programs are in a unique position to rapidly respond to the demands of youth and quickly adapt to implement innovative and best practices that best support their learning styles and areas of interest. Adopting a continuous quality improvement process is a way for programs to Assess – Design – Do; assess the quality of programs, design strategies and activities that increase quality as well as respond to youth needs and interests and do – i.e. implement these strategies and activities, understanding they may not at first be perfect, but the process of Assess – Design – Do can begin again.