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Measuring Social Settings

The resources here focus on assessing the reliability and validity of social setting measures— tools that are low-cost and useful to practitioners—and choosing appropriate measures.

Please note: In 2014, the William T. Grant Foundation retired our 10-year initiative on understanding youth social settings. In its place, we launched a new research initiative on understanding the programs, policies, and practices that reduce inequality in youth outcomes. The resources developed under the social settings initiative remain highly relevant, however, as settings are a critical lens for examining inequality.
RECOMMENDED GENERAL READING RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY OF SETTING-LEVEL MEASURES
Measures of Effective Teaching Longitudinal Database

Researchers should consider the MET Database at the Institute for Social Research, which contains quantitative data such as standardized instrument scores, teacher and student surveys, and student assessments. The Database also houses more than 20,000 hours of video from active classrooms.

Choosing Measures for Youth Programs and Outcomes

Measuring Youth Program Quality: A Guide to Assessment Tools, 2nd Edition by Nicole Yohalem, Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom, Sean Fischer, and Marybeth Shinn (January 2009). The Forum for Youth Investment updated this report, first issued in March 2007, which compares the purpose, history, structure, methodology, content, and technical properties of different program observation tools. (92 pages, 1.31mb PDF)

The Practitioner’s Guide to Conducting Classroom Observations: What the Research Tells Us about Choosing and Using Observational Systems (March 2009) was written by Megan W. Stuhlman, Bridget K. Hamre, Jason T. Downer & Robert C. Pianta in conjunction with the grant Empirical and Theoretical Issues in Classroom Observation: Creating Practical Tools for School-Based Researchers and Practitioners.

From Soft Skills to Hard Data: Measuring Youth Program Outcomes by Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom, Nicole Yohalem, David DuBois, and Peter Ji (September 2011). The Forum for Youth Investment issued this guide, which reviews tools for measuring youth outcomes in social-emotional skill areas, such as communication, critical thinking, and self-direction. All measurement tools reviewed are appropriate for use in out-of-school time settings.