Part 2: Collecting Data

Aligning data collection practices to program theory

Research suggests that high-quality youth development programs can have significant positive effects on a range of important youth outcomes.[1] According to the Quality-to-Outcomes theory of change shown below, sustained participation in activities that are highly engaging and interactive promotes the development of skills and dispositions that are instrumental to school, work, and life success.

Measurement along the QuEST Continuum

Your evaluation plan may include indicators of program progress along the Quality-Engagement-Skills-Transfer (QuEST) continuum:
Quality to Outcomes WEB

  • Program quality can be understood in a number of ways. In the youth development field, program quality is commonly measured using the Youth Program Quality Assessment developed by the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality.
  • Engagement has emotional, behavioral, and cognitive dimensions. Program attendance is sometimes considered a measure of engagement, as are various youth self-report measures.
  • The skills (intra-personal, interpersonal, and cognitive) that young people develop in youth development programs are notoriously difficult to measure. However, several emerging approaches appear promising.
  • Transfer outcomes are those that are seen outside of the program context. Often, but not always, these are academic outcomes.


[1] Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P. & Pachan, M. K. (2010). A meta-analysis of afterschool programs that seek to promote personal and social skills in children and adolescents. American Journal Community Psychology, 16, 294-309. doi: 10.1007/s10464-010-9300-6; Vandell, D. L., Reisner, E. R., & Pierce, K. M. (2007). Outcomes linked to high-quality afterschool programs: Longitudinal findings from the study of promising afterschool programs. Policy Studies Associates, Inc. Retrieved from