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Inside this Research Update: How programs use evaluation to inform their programming and serve older youth and their families

This Research Update explores two major themes: Using evaluation to shape program improvement and planning, and out-of-school time benefits to older youth and their families. We culled these themes from 13 research and evaluation reports added to the Out-of-School Time (OST) Program Research and Evaluation Bibliography in September 2008.

Using Evaluation to Shape Program Improvement and Planning
Increasing demands for accountability have led many OST staff to use evaluation to demonstrate their programs’ value to stakeholders. These same evaluations have great potential to shape program improvement and planning. But, in many instances, accountability demands leave staff with little time and few resources to examine how evaluations can improve the quality of their programs. Several of the studies in this review, however, succeed in using evaluation both to demonstrate their programs’ value and to strive for continuous improvement.

OST Benefits to Older Youth and Their Families
Until recently, much OST programming and related research has focused on serving elementary school-age children, with less attention paid to middle and high school-age youth. At an age when they are beginning to become more independent, teens still need to have some structure and guidance, even as they gain greater independence. Increasingly, stakeholders in the OST arena are coming to see after school programs as an underutilized asset to improve outcomes for older youth in such areas as academics, prevention, and workforce readiness.

About This Series
This series provides key insights from each update to the OST Database and Bibliography. These Research Updates highlight new and innovative methods and findings in the increasingly sophisticated, growing field of OST research and evaluation.

Free. Available online only.

© 2014 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project