Youth Development Measurement Lab at AIR
Improving Youth Outcomes Through Measurement with AIR
At AIR, we understand the critical importance of providing every child with a safe and supportive environment to learn and to thrive.
Our approach to supporting schools, districts, states, federal agencies, youth-serving organizations, and foundations in their efforts to support youth focuses on AIR’s mission to use the best research and technical assistance to improve people's lives.
AIR customizes our measurement services to meet the needs of our partners and the youth, families, and stakeholders they serve. The related services we offer are listed below.
- Survey Selection and Development
- Survey Administration and Data Collection Support
- Data Processing and Analysis
- Psychometric Services, including survey equating and validation
- Reports and Tools
- ADA Compliant PDF Reports
- Trend Reporting
- Interactive Data Tools
- Peer Matching
- Action Planning and Goal Setting
- Targets for excellence
- Technical assistance
- Accountability Support
Key Examples of Our Work
At AIR, we support clients throughout the entirety of their planning, data collection, analysis, interpretation, reporting, and data use process. Our experts’ strengths lie not only in collecting methodologically sound data, but drawing strong, meaningful conclusions based on those data. Our interdisciplinary team of methodologists, psychometricians, and youth-development content experts have decades of expertise in improving conditions for youth through focused measurement.
The Nevada Department of Education (NDE) has partnered with the AIR since 2015 to conduct the Nevada School Climate/Social Emotional Learning (NV-SCSEL) survey. Among other survey uses, the NDE uses data from the survey to better understand student needs and to inform funding decisions from a newly created School Safety account. NDE was faced with a challenge regarding how to use survey data fairly and equitably to determine which schools have the highest need, because two school districts in Nevada use their own school climate survey and do not participate in the NV-SCSEL. To address this challenge, AIR conducted a psychometric equating study to calculate scores from the two district surveys that are directly comparable with the NV-SCSEL survey so that data from all schools statewide could be used together to inform these critical funding decisions.
Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s (CMSD) Conditions for Learning Survey Reduction and Validation
CMSD recognizes the importance of data-driven decision-making to promote positive school climate in the district’s efforts to improve student outcomes. Since 2007, AIR has administered the AIR Conditions for Learning (CFL) survey to CMSD students in grades 2-12. In 2019, AIR undertook a psychometric analysis of the CFL survey to develop a shorter version that maintains strong psychometric properties and allows CMSD to maintain its data trends.
Survey/Tool Development and Validation
Character Development Learning Institute of the Y-USA Psychometric Validation
As part of its Character Development Learning Institute, the Y-USA developed a suite of tools intended to help individuals reflect on their practices that are associated with positive youth development (e.g., empathy, personal development), as well as an organizational capacity assessment designed to assist leadership teams in understanding and taking action to improve their capacity to support positive youth development. AIR partnered with Y-USA to undergo a validation study that first informed revisions to the tools, then tested the validity of the tools across a number of validity domains (content, substantive, structural, generalizability, external, and consequential).
Boy Scouts of American Adult Practices Survey Development and Validation
AIR is co-principal investigator in collaboration with Montclair State University on the study of character development in the Boy Scouts of America. As part of this project, AIR developed and validated a survey of adult volunteers that measures adult beliefs, attitudes, and practices that are theorized to contribute to positive youth development.
Communities in Schools Re-engagement Monitoring Tools
In partnership with Communities in School, AIR is developing a suite of tools to help schools monitor wellbeing and engagement during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Student Engagement Check-in is an Excel tool that guides one-on-one conversation between an educator and a student regarding engagement in school. It is structured to allow for flexibility and personalization and provide quantitative ratings of engagement to inform ongoing supports. The tool, which focuses on student engagement in four domains—emotional engagement, social engagement, behavioral engagement, and cognitive engagement—can be used over time to track changes in engagement and adjust supports.
Nevada School Wellbeing Survey
The Nevada School Wellbeing survey was developed by AIR in collaboration with the Nevada Department of Education’s Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment (NDE) in response to districts feedback that a brief “pulse check” survey would be beneficial to help schools and districts understand the well-being and needs of their students, staff, and families as they face the unique challenges of the 2020-21 school year. The survey covers wellbeing topics prioritized by districts, including Support for Mental Health, Basic Needs, Conditions for Learning in the Current Climate, Engagement, and Support for Social and Emotional Learning.
AIR provides survey administration, analysis, and reporting support to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) along with direct support to Cleveland’s schools to highlight the importance of school climate measurement and high-quality data. As part of this support, the AIR team creates “Targets for Excellence” in safety and SEL for each school, taking into account their current safety and SEL conditions and the characteristics of each school. These Targets for Excellence are intended to help schools in their annual goal setting efforts with the district.
AIR supports education agencies to collect and use high-quality data in various ways, which sometimes includes building or customizing technology for an education agency. For example, AIR supports Nassau BOCES to use the Department of Education’s School Climate Survey (EDSCLS), which is a suite of school climate survey instruments and a data collection platform developed for schools, districts, and states. Through this project, AIR customized the EDSCLS data collection and reporting platform to meet the specialized needs of the Nassau BOCES, and provides ongoing technology support to ensure that Nassau county school districts are able to collect data to understand the experiences of their stakeholders at school.
The Stop, Think, Act: Ready to Assess toolkit, available at no cost, helps educators, practitioners, and policymakers decide if and when they are ready to assess social and emotional learning and development. Developed by experts at AIR, the second edition of Ready to Assess was launched in late 2019. The new edition:
- Highlights the importance of implementation readiness and the conditions that foster SEL and development;
- Includes assessments of learning conditions in and out of school; and
- Updates the list of available social and emotional competency assessments.