Software FAQ

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Why is Merge Education Donating Sale Proceeds to YATMA?

The people who created YATMA in 1994 founded Merge in 2008, after they developed  SETS and the other educational and nonprofit tools that YATMA uses. So it’s a win-win arrangement.

What Types of Programs Can Use This Software?

If your program delivers skill building / educational opportunities such as literacy, mentoring, arts, science, math, or sports, SETS’ integrated evaluation and management capabilities will help you optimize your program, generate more funding, and stimulate staff and students.

Is SETS for Everyone?

SETS gives you and your staff what you need plus it gives funders – from foundations to government – everything they want to see. Call us at 845.481.2300 to arrange a free consult and tour, so we can show you SETS and answer your questions.

SETS as a Program Management Tool:

Does SETS Have a Contact Database?

Yes. SETS maintains all contact information about students, staff, and significant others, and you can compile and share reports on these contacts.

How Does SETS Improve Director Program Oversight and Management?

SETS provides program oversight of after school programs by reporting on:

  • all necessary personal record keeping information
  • student demographics
  • teacher progress notes and qualitative reports
  • student interests served
  • which classes and sections are currently offered
  • which are open for additional enrollment
  • which teachers and students are in each
  • class times
  • staff and student attendance
  • teacher evaluation and goal-oriented support.

By utilizing this basic data with the student evaluations, directors keep operations flowing smoothly, as well as see which teachers / mentors are the most effective and who might need additional support.

How does SETS Help Administrators and Generate More Funding?

SETS’ management reports help administrators ensure program fidelity to standards while controlling costs by reducing paperwork and redundancies.

SETS generates more funding by verifying the efficacy of the program to potential funders.

SETS as an After School Evaluation and Assessment Tool:

What Scales (Metrics) are Used?

Sets uses the Student Observation Scale (completed by teacher / mentor), the Self Esteem Scale (completed by students), and the Student Assessment Scale (completed by an adult with knowledge of the student’s behavior).

SETS also contains a Staff Assessment Scale for meaningful tracking and assessment of teachers and staff.

Anchor Points

SETS utilizes anchor points to ensure consistent scoring of students’ progress among teachers and staff. (We can show you this in a tour – just call us at 845.481.2300).

How does SETS Use Goals for Measurement?

Goal setting is one of the measurements used in the student evaluation process. teachers / mentors set one skill and one personal goal for each student for each assessment period (the assessment period is determined by the program director).

Goals are designed to be achievable by the next observation, thus improving short-term success levels that motivates the student toward self sufficiency in successful learning. Achievement levels of the preceding period’s goals are also scored.

On-screen guidelines facilitate the setting of clear, attainable goals and for scoring the goals’ attainment. All of this information – qualitative and quantitative – is automatically included when evaluation reports are compiled. Funders love this combination of quantitative and qualitative information.

SETS as a Teaching Tool:

Does SETS Support 21st CCLCs?

Yes. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grants support after school programs that provide the following services to students attending high-poverty, low-performing schools:

  • Academic enrichment activities that can help students meet state and local achievement standards
  • A broad array of additional services designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program, such as: drug and violence prevention programs, counseling programs, art, music, and recreation programs, technology education programs, and character education programs
  • Literacy and related educational development services to the families of children who are served in the program (U.S. Department of Education, 2003)

SETS uniquely supports quantitative and qualitative evaluation across these services by (1) utilizing a three-tiered evaluation process that tracks improvements in learning ability, self-responsibility and behavior, and (2) focusing staff / teachers / mentors on the Fundamentals of Empowerment™.

 

One of SETS’ Many Bonus Features: Because SETS can accommodate a control group, you can compare overall academic achievement between students who are enrolled in your program and those who are not.

SETS as a Staff Development Tool:

The evaluation and assessment scales focus teachers and staff on the Fundamentals of Empowerment™, core learning points and abilities that are prerequisites to any real learning or personal empowerment for all students and essential for those who are challenged.

When teachers, mentors or staff are working with students it’s as if they have a guide offering various perspectives or points of focus to develop strategies and approaches for their students. By providing these perspectives, SETS becomes an ongoing staff development tool as opposed to short-lived, more superficial techniques. .

How Does SETS Support Strengths-based Teaching Methods?

Because SETS highlights student strengths, it allows instructors to develop individualized strategies that encourage achievement while minimizing discouragement. SETS also helps teachers identify student limitations, so they can develop remedial activities and identify and compare the effectiveness of various teaching strategies.

How Was the Assessment Component of SETS Developed?

SETS’ development was two-pronged, so itutilizes current practices and builds upon them:

  • First, it was developed in conjunction with the resesarch-based methodologies of the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets, Jung/Briggs-Myers Personality Assessment, Harold Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.
  • Then, working with other educators, social workers, therapists, and research scientists, YATMA and Merge Education director Bill Rossi broke new ground by precisely defining the underlying skills and abilities necessary for self-directed learning These Fundamentals of Empowerment™ measure core learning principles in the student’s relation himself, in his relation to the teacher, and in relation to his skill development.

SETS as a Community Development Tool:

Just as concerned communities are paying more attention to after-school programming and community involvement in the middle school years, community education is being seen as a viable answer to serving troubled teens and decreasing dropout rates..

The question is, How do you find and develop the natural resources that exist in every community? How do you go beyond the surveys and focus groups to get at the unique talents and abilities that exist?

SETS can be a powerful community development tool because by providing teaching orientations to interested members of the community, it enables them to realize their potential for confidently sharing their skills. (For information on how our consultation addresses this need, contact us at 845.481.2300)

Ease of Use:

User Friendly?

Thanks to years of design, testing, and refining in the field, SETS is so essential, integrated, and fluid to use that it makes sense. That makes it friendly.

Training Requirements

Most users are up and going quickly, with simple self-training. SETS comes complete with short video tutorials and quick start manuals, and – for those who like to dig deeper – a comprehensive user manual with answers to every question you could possibly have.

SETS also comes with a “Sandbox” database – a place to play around and get comfortable. If you have questions, we’re here for you. In addition to any needed initial installation or startup support, the purchase price includes 9 free Q&A emails within the first three months and a monthly email thereafter.

Technology:

Technology Requirements

SETS requires Windows XP or Windows 7 or above; Mac users purchase Parallels software to bridge to Windows programs (priced under $80, also with a free trial, here).

SETS operates on a single computer or Local Area Network. LAN users load the SETS application on each computer to be used; the database is loaded onto the LAN to be accessed by all computers. Each SETS license accommodates installation on 5 computers (seats).

Installation and Program Setup

Once you purchase SETS, you will be directed back to our site to a page with the download link (right click, save as). Installation will create a SETS folder on your C drive, and a SETS shortcut placed on your desktop. The first time you open SETS on each computer used, you will be asked for an unlock code: contact us and we will provide it for you. It’s a very simple process; just call us if you need help.

Technical Support and Contact

SETS’ ease of use is one of the reasons we can offer it so affordably; but we’re always here when you need us.

Miscellaneous FAQ:

Pricing

Why is SETS so inexpensive compared to other evaluation software? If you’ve read up on SETS, you know it’s well integrated and essential – it makes sense. The same practical thinking that designed SETS has been used to price it.

Customization

Most users find SETS to be complete right out of the box. But if you’d like to tweak it by changing some of the questions Merge can accommodate you. (Additional charges will incur).

Your Scale

You can even integrate a fourth scale to track, measure, and report on the specific benchmarks of the skills your program teaches. (Additional charges will incur).

Grant Proposal Wording

A request for funding support to purchase SETS will most likely get approved by funders – be they foundations looking for assessment or business people who want to support your program but first need to see good management oversight. A board member might also be a willing candidate for funding SETS.

Would you like some wording about SETS you can use in your grant requests? Contact us at 845.481.2300. We’ll be happy to send it to you.

Security Levels

SETS has a highly specific security scheme to ensure information confidentiality. This scheme is detailed in the user manual; following are the most basic details of three of the levels:

Director Security Level

  • Can add, see and edit all records for all students and staff members
  • Can add, see and edit Attendance records
  • an add, see and edit student enrollment in activities
  • Can see reports for all students

Administrator Security Level

  • Can add and see records for all students and staff members but cannot edit them
  • Can add new Attendance records but cannot see or edit existing ones
  • Can add, see and edit student enrollment in activities
  • Can see reports for all students

Teacher/Volunteer Security Level

  • Can see the identification records only for his students but cannot edit them once completed
  • Can add new students, but introduce only some basic information
  • Cannot see any staff identification records

What Do You Mean When You Say SETS is Essential?

When we say SETS is essential, we’re referring to its’ simplicity – how its ability to track the fundamental learning points and behavioral and emotional benchmarks is integrated into the program management. SETS was designed to accomplish a lot without fanfare, to truly make your job easier.

But No One Likes Evaluation!

We hope we’re not belaboring the point, but people in the field actually enjoy using SETS. Administrators and volunteers like how SETS’ intuitive design integrates their many tasks; program directors enjoy the comprehensive and easy program oversight, and teachers see SETS as a valuable part of their work because it helps them focus on fundamental learning points.

SETS really does make everyone’s job easier.

Brief History

Bill Rossi developed SETS and used it for almost 20 years when he directed and managed after school nonprofit programs. Drawing from existing resources and methodologies including the Search Institute Assets, Briggs-Myers, Harold Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences, and the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale, Bill broke new ground as he worked with other educators, social workers, therapists, evaluation scientists and software developers to make SETS intuitive, cohesive, friendly, and efficient. The application software underwent development, testing, and fine tuning from 2008 – 2012.

The SETS Back Story

Want a few more details on how this assessment software came to be so truly user friendly and intuitive? It’s all in the context: a tool that’s developed for decades out in the world to serve and accommodate the very real demands of real programs quite naturally becomes highly relevant and easy to use – out of necessity.

From 1985 to 1994, pianist and educator Bill Rossi developed, tested, and fine tuned his unique strengths-based mentoring approach. When he began hiring other teachers in 1994 as executive director of a small after school nonprofit, he saw the need to formalize the program structure and gather assessment data to demonstrate accountability and ensure funding. So SETS began, and for the first 6 years was developed within a growing community-based program.

In 2000, Bill expanded his program in Parsons Child & Family Center and St. Anne Institute in Albany, NY (residential facilities) and continued to develop SETS working closely with various social service providers including psychiatrists, therapists, child care workers, social workers, academic teachers, and artist educators.

In 2008, as the country entered a deep financial recession, Bill took his program to the exurbs of Philadelphia. County executives verified that the evaluation tool was the deciding factor in the County’s awarding a series of multi-year contracts. From 2008-2012, SETS underwent beta testing and was refined into the essential tool it is today.

Learn about Merge Education.

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