June 18, 2019
Do you feel like your 21st CCLC summer program is already in a good place, with funding secured, partners and stakeholders engaged, staff and students recruited, SMART goals set, activities planned, and logistics figured out? Congratulations!
Are you ready to take your program to the next level? Let’s talk data.
If you look at the Y4Y Continuous Improvement Process Diagram, you’ll see data collection plays a key role in helping you make improvements. As your summer program gets under way, think about data collection as a three-dimensional launch pad into the continuous improvement cosmos. Dimension one consists of qualitative and quantitative data, dimension two includes short- and long-term data, and dimension three includes formative and summative data.
Qualitative and Quantitative
Any good program design is going to look at quantitative data (“the numbers”) as well as qualitative data (important information that can’t be expressed in numbers). For example, your quantitative measure of attendance can tell you in concrete terms whether the program was successful in engaging the targeted number of students, but a parent survey question can help you understand why those students wanted to be there. Academic assessments can provide quantitative data on whether students are improving in a particular subject area, but student survey results can give you qualitative data on which methods or projects your students believe helped them improve. Be faithful about finalizing your end-of-program survey of staff and parents. Record your own recollections of projects or activities that seemed the most impactful. Use these data to help you make next year’s program even better!
Short and Long Term
Taking the program’s pulse at every opportunity is crucial to short-term improvements. Regular check-ins with parents at pick-up time give them a chance to share any concerns, and it’s also a way to solicit insights into their children’s interests, challenges and progress. You can use these insights to make adjustments where needed. Also, keep your finger on the pulse of everyday routines. Today’s observation that students left the room messy after an art activity might lead to tomorrow’s introduction of a new clean-up routine. A mid-program academic assessment might tell you that your students are ahead of the curve on math, but behind on reading comprehension. This discovery could prompt a change in your approach. Don’t scrap your ideas at the end of the summer — keeping notes on all successes and challenges, however small they may seem, will give you a head start in planning for the long term. “Future you” will be delighted with “past you” for providing such helpful information!
Formative and Summative
You collected a lot of data to design your summer program: school-level data, student-level data, student voice data. These types of data are considered summative because they “summarize” students’ progress or results at the end of an extended period of instruction. The data you collect midway through your program, or at the end, are also summative. These data tell you whether your program is reaching its goals and help you decide if adjustments are needed. No doubt, your program design already incorporates opportunities to gather data to support program improvement (see the Y4Y Continuous Improvement Planner).
To make sure you and your students stay on course day-to-day or week-to-week, you’ll need to collect formative data. Formative data help you identify and understand problems as they occur so that you can “form” effective solutions. For example, let’s say when you designed a new summer math program, the students’ summative academic assessment results informed your program design, but a mid-summer check tells you that you’re not on target with your goals, and you’re not sure how to get back on track. You might decide to add a formative assessment tool, like journaling, where you ask students to show their work on a specific set of problems, reflect on their approach and raise questions. Even if journaling wasn’t part of your original design, using it to collect qualitative data can help you see where gaps in comprehension may be. This information can help you make adjustments that target the reasons behind students’ difficulties. That way, you can get your summer math program — and your students — back on track while there’s still time to make changes.
With data as your launch pad, the quality of your school year program as well as next summer’s will get a boost. It’s all part of the continuous improvement cycle.
For more ideas on continuous improvement, catch the replay of Y4Y’s Summer Learning Webinar installment, The Right Outcome: Ready for Summer. Also, visit the Continuous Improvement section of Y4Y’s Summer Learning Initiative page for survey and observation tools, sample focus group questions and more.