Improving Program Quality for Youth, By Youth

On October 12th, Sprockets hosted a YPQA as a Self-Assessment training, where more than 30 youth workers from several St. Paul organizations gathered to build their capacity in observing and promoting high quality within programs. One of those attendees was Let Let, a sophomore at Humboldt high school. Let Let is a staff member of the Flipside Afterschool Program at Humboldt high school. Her supervisor and Afterschool Coordinator Kurt New has worked to uniquely structure the Flipside program so that youth make up a part of the afterschool staff, gaining leadership and career readiness skills to support them in the workforce and any space they want to be a part of.

Let Let has been a part of Flipside since the 6th grade, and is now in her second year as a staff member. In her position as the Program Quality Controller, Let Let observes and assesses each of the Flipside clubs using the YPQA. Flipside offers a variety of clubs, with some led by youth, adults, and/or both. After each observation, Let Let scores the program and follows up with youth and adult program staff to discuss areas where they are doing well and areas where they can improve. In addition to the observations, Let Let is also responsible for tracking club attendance and recruitment. “I’m enjoying it. I like scoring and giving staff numbers, and then being able to say good things about a classroom. It’s fun to see what all the clubs are about!”

Though being the Program Quality Controller has allowed Let Let to expand her understanding of quality and strengthen her observation, communication, and writing skills, the position has also posed several challenging, learning opportunities. “Scoring is sometimes difficult because some of the requirements on the YPQA rubric don’t really match up with our programs. And sometimes you forget or aren’t able to write everything down, and may not give them the score they actually deserve. You want to be nice, but if they don’t have it, you have to be honest and straightforward.” Improving her observation skills to create authentic assessment and constructive feedback for programs is something Let Let is continually striving to develop.

One of Let Let’s strongest takeaways from the Sprockets training was the importance of quality in creating inclusive and engaging programs, “Quality is very important if you’re trying to make a program where you want everyone to participate or want everyone to have fun. You have to make sure its run well. You’ve got to be welcoming, encouraging and nice, and really proficient in what you do.” A focus on program quality to enhance the experiences of students is at the core of what Let Let hopes to accomplish in her role, “I want to at least make a memorable difference or change for those teachers and clubs so they may improve and make it more fun for students to want to be involved and enjoy it.”