Research & Evaluation
NIOST is an action-research institute providing a national perspective on the critical issues facing the out-of-school time field.
We are dedicated to:
- Conducting, tracking and organizing research.
- Interpreting and synthesizing research for multiple audiences, including policymakers, press and practitioners.
- Participating in evaluation research at the program, community and national levels, both by conducting research and contributing to collaborative evaluations.
- Disseminating and packaging information in a variety of products such as publications, videos and electronic media.
Selected Active Projects
- Afterschool Matters Initiative
- Boston Afterschool and Beyond Partnership Project
- BOKS Longitudinal Evaluation
- Wyoming Afterschool Alliance Mott Achievement Project
- Attleboro Public Schools Afterschool Programs/Balfour Foundation Technical Assistance Project
- Technical Assistance, Next Generation Afterschool System Building Initiative
- Consulting on Best Strategies for Program Practice and Self-Assessment
- PSAYDN Quality Committee Statewide Older Youth QRIS Initiative
As part of this initiative, NIOST will be working to nationally expand the Afterschool Practitioner Fellowship Program, disseminate the Afterschool Matters Journal, and continue both the Edmund A. Stanley, Jr. Research Grantee program and Research Roundtables forum. This initiative has the goal of fostering high quality, cutting-edge research, bridging the gap between research and practice, and ultimately showcasing research that impacts the afterschool field.
APAS is a comprehensive evaluation system designed to help afterschool programs improve program quality and focus on appropriate and realistic outcomes for youth. These tools were developed to help address the accountability challenge that faces afterschool programs. APAS includes two measurement tools—the Survey of Afterschool Youth Outcomes (SAYO), and the Assessing Afterschool Program Practices Tool (APT). With primary funding by the AT&T Family Care Development Fund, NIOST piloted their afterschool program assessment system in Atlanta, Georgia, and New Jersey. With additional funding from United Way Massachusetts Bay, and Partners in Out-of-School Time, NIOST was also able to include Boston, MA and Charlotte, NC sites.
BE SAFE provides tailored programming and capacity building to a network of eight greater Boston out-of-school-time programs that work directly with youth, many of whom are at risk. NIOST is responsible for the evaluation of the BE SAFE initiative. The evaluation approach used includes surveys, interviews, focus groups, and site observations. Overall, the evaluation is intended to assess the efficacy and impacts of the BE SAFE initiative.
NIOST is working in collaboration with Boston Afterschool and Beyond and three Boston Public Schools to explore components of school CBO partnership afterschool programming and potential contributions to positive youth outcomes. Research methodologies include program observation, semi-structured interviews, and the Survey on Afterschool Youth Outcomes (staff and youth versions).
NIOST is conducting a longitudinal study in Natick and Boston public schools of BOKS, a before-school physical activity program sponsored by Reebok.
NIOST is collaborating with Housing Families, Inc. on implementation of the Survey on Afterschool Youth Outcomes (SAYO) and the Afterschool Program Practices Tool (APT).
Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), NIOST will design and develop two additional measurement tools to add to the APAS system—a youth survey (SAYO-Y), and a family survey (SAYO-F). The SAYO-Y will be used by DESE to measure youth’s experiences in an afterschool program, as well as their sense of competence and future planning in order to better understand youth needs and pinpoint areas where youth may benefit from additional support.
NIOST is working with the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance to build the internal capacity to improve quality in a wide variety of afterschool programs using NIOST’s APAS system. In the fall of 2011, NIOST trained seventeen programs across the state of Wyoming on APAS. Based on NIOST reports from data collected from the sites each program is working on individual action plans to improve the overall quality of their programs. In addition, fifteen experienced afterschool professionals were trained as Quality Advisors to assist the programs in their continuous program improvement efforts.
- CityWorks: Building Strong Citywide Afterschool Initiatives
- Framingham Public Schools
- From Out-of-School to Outer Space: Exploring the Solar System with NASA
- Leading for Quality Initiative
- Massachusetts Afterschool Research Study (MARS)
- Met Life Discovering Community Initiative: An Evaluation Project
- New York City Urban Debate League: Investigating Youth's Experiences in a "Democracy in Action" Afterschool Program
- Outcomes Evaluation of FasTracKids
- Physical Activity Over Time: Health Outcomes of Elementary School Children
- Program Practices: An Investigation of Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Standards and Practices in Out-of School Time Programs (HOST)
With funding from Cornerstones for Kids and The Packard Foundation, NIOST is partnering with the Forum for Youth Investment and Child Care Services Association to develop a set of guidelines to promote and strengthen the youth work workforce, with the aim of increasing stability, preparation, support and commitment to the well-being and empowerment of youth.
This project sought to improve the availability and preservation of out-of-school time programming and to disseminate information on recruiting, training, development, and finance.
This project connects high-level leaders from different cities and states to educate them on the dynamic landscape of afterschool programs in hopes of directing the influence, funding, and high expectations of these leaders into a “critical mass” of associated initiatives across the country.
The primary goal of the Out of Harm's Way (OHW) Initiative is to address the escalating violence in a subset of middle schools in the Boston Public Schools by offering comprehensive services and care, and increasing the participation of students in after school programming. Wellesley Centers for Women and the National Institute on Out-of-School Time would perform as the project evaluator.
NIOST is conducting an evaluation of 21st Century Community Learning Programs in Framingham, Massachusetts. NIOST visits each site using the APT tool as a guide and shares their findings with the 21st century team. NIOST also assists with the analysis of SAYO data and the annual report to the DOE.
NIOST is responsible for conducting an evaluation of a new afterschool program curriculum titled “From Out-of-School to Outer Space: Exploring the Solar System with NASA,” which was developed by NASA. The focus of the project is to increase science literacy and encourage interest in science-related educational opportunities.
The City of Cambridge hired NIOST for their general leadership and guidance and evaluation for the out-of-school time “Leading for Quality Initiative,” as well as facilitation of the executive level Communities of Practice. The goal of this project is quality improvement in Cambridge afterschool programs.
The FasTracKids Research Study is a 19-month international study aimed at examining the link between participation in FasTracKids enrichment programs and child outcomes (children 4 and 5 years old). FasTracKids Enrichment Centers offer a variety of classes and activities designed to promote early learning, develop creative thinking and problem solving, build verbal communication, promote leadership and personal growth, and encourage a lifelong love of learning.
With funding from Cornerstones for Kids and the The Packard Foundation, NIOST is partnering with the Forum for Youth Investment and Child Care Services Association to develop a set of guidelines pormoting success and strengthening the work force for afterschool providers towards stability, preparation, support and commitment to the well-being and empowerment of youth.
This project sought to identify the most successful elements of afterschool programs in Massachusetts; including staff, policy making, funding, and program/activity participation.
This was an evaluation of a national project that fosters more positive attitudes and stronger affiliations among middle school teachers, students, and parents within school communities.
The objective of the study is to provide comprehensive insight into the mechanisms that promote habits of physical activity in adolescents. The subjects in the NICHD Study of Early Child Care & Youth Development represent one of the largest cohorts on whom multiple measures of physical activity and the associated contexts have been longitudinally collected.
This study examined the ways in which youth participate in the League: how do they experience the democratic ideals of a debate program? How do they come to consider and participate in democracy?
Energy balance and appropriate physical activity are critical to preventing obesity and associated cardiometabolic morbidity. In the United States, 6.5 million children attend out-of-school time programs annually, participating in roughly 3 hours per day of activities typically including homework, snack, and gross motor play. If out-of-school time programs can provide appropriate snack and physical activity choices, they can be an important component of the campaign against childhood obesity.