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School-Age Program Quality Assessment (SPQA)

What is the School-Age PQA?

The School-Age PQA focuses on staff practices and experiences of children by using an assess-plan-improve sequence. The approach is based on interconnected domains to support children’s experiences with intentional planning in the following areas:

  • Physical safety, emotional safety, and inclusive practices
  • Supportive environment through welcoming, conflict resolution, active learning, encouragement, and skill-building
  • Interaction through cooperative learning and leadership opportunities
  • Higher order engagement through choice, planning and reflection

Which program(s) could use the School-Age PQA?

The School-age PQA can be used in center or school-based settings including full day out of school time and before and after school sites serving children in grades K-6.

The School-Age PQA Assessment Process

External School-age PQA assessments are conducted by a reliable assessor from the Program Quality Assessment (PQA) team. Assessments can range from one to three hours.

Internal School-age PQA assessments are conducted by the program’s internal assessment team. Programs partner with the Quality Coach and PQA team when planning for and conducting internal assessment, and when analyzing the information collected during the internal assessment process. A team leader observes and takes notes, including anecdotal records to gather classroom data. The assessment process includes a minimum of a one-hour classroom observation.

School-age PQA assessments include observation, teacher questions, and may include a tour of the space used by school-aged children.

How does School-Age PQA Support Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI)?

Information gathered during a School-age PQA assessment can be used by the program to help identify safe and supportive environments, interactions and engagement, as well as areas for growth. The information gathered can also be used to help create the program’s continuous quality improvement plan.

Additional Information/Training

Additional information on the School-age PQA can be found at:

Are you interested in using the SPQA for internal assessment?

How to Conduct an Internal Assessment Using the SPQA (PDF) is a good place to start. It provides an at-a-glance of the assessment details, a list of materials to support internal assessments, links to professional learning resources, and step-by-step guidance for conducting the internal assessment.


Return to the Program Observation Instrument (POI) page.


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