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From Soft Skills to Hard Data: Measuring Youth Program Outcomes

Report
Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom & Nicole Yohalem, The Forum for Youth Investment; David DuBois, University of Illinois at Chicago; Peter Ji, Adler School of Professional Psychology; & Barbara Hillaker, David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality
January 16, 2014
 
Everyone who runs a youth program believes in their hearts that their program helps kids – but in their heads, they know they need convincing data to prove it. This guide from the Forum for Youth Investment – From Soft Skills to Hard Data: Measuring Youth Program Outcomes – updated from 2011, is here to help them get it.

The guide addresses a common problem throughout the youth field: We know that out-of-school time (OST) programs can help youth develop skills and attributes they need to be ready for college, work and life – skills and attributes like communications, relationships and collaboration, critical thinking and decision making, and initiative and self-direction. But few OST programs have the tools to effectively measure those outcomes. Finding the right one can be daunting.

From Soft Skills to Hard Data reviews ten youth outcome measurement tools that are appropriate for use in after-school and other settings. For each tool, it provides sample items and crucial information about usability, cost, and evidence of reliability and validity. A companion to the Forum’s Measuring Youth Program Quality, the guide can help providers select conceptually grounded, psychometrically sound measures appropriate for programs that serve upper-elementary- through high school-aged youth.

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