About Data: Accountability & Evaluation
Data helps create a robust picture about the impact of afterschool and expanded learning. Data collection should be a continuous process as it only takes a few years for one report to become outdated. Having robust data helps demonstrate to various afterschool stakeholders that our dollars are well spent, and keeps us accountable for the quality of our work.
Most state and local systems are designed to support both the operations of an afterschool program (such as enrolling students and managing attendance) and facilitate the collection of data to assess program impact. These systems are usually tied to a specific program like 21st Century Community Learning Centers. In most instances, the system in question was developed and is hosted by a for-profit entity with the state or locale paying a per seat user fee. A smaller number of states own and maintain their own afterschool data collections systems.
- Just because a state or locale has a system in place does not necessarily mean the data is of high-quality.
- Data collected via state and locally-developed or purchased systems will likely not be publicly accessible.
Strategies to Support Data: Accountability & Evaluation
When reviewing existing systems of data, try to gain access to the following documents about the system in question:
- User guides.
- Code books.
- Tutorials/training materials.
- Validation guides.
Things to look for include:
- Clear instructions and definitions.
- Robust help and FAQ sections.
- Clear indications of what is required.
- What type of user support is available.
- Intuitive interface.
Other questions to ask about state and local systems:
- How are new users trained?
- Who is responsible for providing the data?
- What procedures exist for monitoring the data being submitted for completion and accuracy?
What procedures exist for dealing with problematic submissions?