City Spotlight: Tempe

Tempe, Arizona has recently adopted the state’s Quality Standards for Out-Of-School Time (OST) Programs. The standards were created through an active partnership between the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence, Valley of the Sun United Way, and cities, towns, school districts and community organizations throughout the state. The standards include best practices in seven key areas:

•    Safe and healthy environments
•    Positive relationships
•    Intentional programming and activities
•    Equity and inclusion
•    Family, school and community engagement
•    Program management
•    Program evaluation and data

The Kyrene School District Governing Board, which serves part of Tempe, adopted the Arizona Quality Standards for district-wide implementation on February 10, 2015. The Tempe City Council then voted to adopt the standards citywide on February 12, making Tempe the first city in Arizona to officially adopt these standards.

"Tempe's adoption of the Arizona Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs unifies the city's educational goals for its students," stated Tempe Councilmember Robin Arredondo-Savage. "Having these standards in Tempe ensures that we have a specific direction for improvement, allowing us to build a common language between out-of-school time programs, schools, funders and families."

Arizona Quality Standards for Out-of-School Time Programs is the first step of a three-step continuous quality improvement program. For the second step, statewide stakeholders completed and tested a new Arizona Quality Assessment Tool (AzQSAT) for OST Programs at the end of last year with 103 pilot sites around the state.

The City of Tempe runs the Kid Zone Enrichment Program in both Tempe Elementary School District schools and Kyrene School District schools. The Kid Zone sites were all pilot sites for the new AzQSAT, and now have reports showing their strengths and challenges based on their self-assessment scores.  Tempe is committed to using the new standards and assessment tool for continuous quality improvement.

Tempe City Council’s action to adopt the standards demonstrates the city’s focus on and prioritizing of youth programs. Many city council members have become champions for afterschool as their awareness about the importance of afterschool programs and the need for assessment standards has increased. Because of the city council vote, the City of Tempe Kid Zone Enrichment Program providers now feel that the city is more aware, engaged and supportive of their programs.

The entire continuous quality improvement process serves to strengthen programs and improve youth outcomes. Putting a focus on quality is meant to improve programs and make the job of program staff easier, because it makes them better equipped to recognize and implement high-quality out-of-school time programs.