Elements of Program Quality

The QSA Tool is organized around ten essential elements of an effective afterschool program, all of which come from evidenced-based practice. Under each element, there is a list of quality indicators. If you are just starting a program, begin with indicators that are critical to address prior to program start-up. Each indicator is rated on a performance level from 1 to 4, and examples of what a program might look like at each performance level is available for all indicators. You can find those on each element page, or look at the full tool downloadable on the right.

The QSA Tool is meant to be used in concert with other formal and informal evaluation methods, such as youth,  parent and staff meetings, youth and parent focus groups, and external motioning and evaluation.  Each of these methods can help identify program strengths and areas in need of improvement.

For more information on how the QSA Tool compares to other leading assessment instruments, see Measuring Youth Program Quality: A Guide to Assessment Tools published by the Forum for Youth Investment.

Environment & Climate

Administration & Organization


Staffing & Professional Development

Programming & Activities

Establishes Strong Links to the School Day

Youth Participation & Engagement

Parent, Family, & Community Partnerships

Program Sustainability & Growth

Measuring Outcomes & Evaluation

Building on the QSA Tool and similar afterschool standards in other states, organizations have developed specialized standards that target specific programming areas or youth development goals. View these Supplemental Tools.

Translated versions of the QSA Tool are available on the Publications Page.