Pre surveys should be administered as early as possible, ideally during the first quarter of a program cycle. For example, we would recommend administering Pre surveys by Week 2 of an 8-week program. For school-year offerings that span 8-9 months, Pre surveys should be completed by the end of Month 2 -- but ideally as close to the start of programming as possible.
Because shifts in enrollment often occur during the early days of programming, we also recommend waiting until participation has stabilized.
Post surveys should be administered after young people have experienced most aspects of the scheduled programming, but before typical end-of-year attrition begins (when participants may drop out or have inconsistent attendance due to competing priorities). A good rule of thumb is to administer post surveys after about 75% of programming has been completed and before they are pulled away for testing, vacations, etc.
Check-In surveys can be administered as Post Survey, especially if you were not able to administer Pre Surveys or had low response rates. In this scenario, you can follow the above scheduling guidance for Post surveys.
Check-In Surveys can also be used at the midpoint of a program to assess the extent to which young people are engaged in Positive Youth Development experiences shown to promote SEL. A good rule of thumb is to administer Check-In surveys after approximately one-third of programming has been completed. This will help to ensure that young people have experienced most aspects of the scheduled programming.
Navigate around academic test schedules: Young people can experience test fatigue, so try not to survey them when they are experiencing a large number of mid-term or standardized tests.
Maximize attendance: It is not necessary to administer surveys on the exact first or last days of a group. The priority is to select dates that will allow more young people to be surveyed, so there is flexibility when choosing times during the first and last quarters of programming.
If All Else Fails Pivot. If you just can’t get the pre surveys done or if you find that most of the young people at the end of the program were not those that were surveyed at PRE, consider pivoting to the Check-In survey.