Management information systems are at the center of citywide efforts to collect, store, link, analyze, report, learn from, and use information on the afterschool programs that cities and their local partners operate. Section 1 on Four High-Value Uses of Afterschool Data describes four important uses of data on local afterschool programs that motivate cities to invest in the complex but highly beneficial work of building or enhancing an MIS:
Assess Youth Outcomes and System Impact
Among the most important uses of an MI system is to provide information on system usage and youth outcomes that can inform decisions about efforts to expand access, improve program quality, and link afterschool initiatives to broader citywide goals such as college and career readiness and public safety. Measuring impact begins with answering basic questions about the scope of afterschool services available in the community. Ideally, it also involves either directly measuring developmental assets or integrating data with outside systems to evaluate how afterschool programs are influencing a broader set of outcomes related to academic achievement, employment or public safety.
Promote Accountability, Demonstrate Return on Investment, and Allocate Scarce Resources
Related to their value in gauging afterschool system- and program-level reach and impact, MI systems enable city leaders and private funders to hold programs accountable for achieving desired results and analyze at a policy level where their investment of afterschool dollars is most needed and is likely to bring the largest return. On the flip side, MI system data can help local leaders make the case for sustaining and expanding high-quality afterschool programs.
Empower Afterschool Providers and Reduce Paperwork
Afterschool data collected in MI systems allow city and non-city program providers to make better decisions at the program level and work more effectively and efficiently by:
- Informing agencies and managers, providing them with continuous feedback on program results.
- Empowering program sites with information on student outcomes that allows sites to tailor their instruction more closely to the needs of the youth they serve.
- Reducing paperwork.
Facilitate Peer Benchmarking and Professional Development
By delivering information to programs on their results relative to similar programs, citywide afterschool systems can facilitate peer benchmarking and help programs understand how their work aligns with larger community goals of college and career readiness. They can also use data to identify high-performers and offer targeted professional development to spread the adoption of best practices throughout the community.