This chapter introduces ways that social researchers can transform youth-serving settings in order to promote positive youth development. Interventions can occur at multiple levels, ranging from face-to-face settings such as classrooms or after-school programs to larger structures such as schools and communities to social policies, and interventions at different levels may affect one another. A model developed by Tseng and Seidman that characterizes social settings in terms of their social processes, resources, and the organization of resources is useful in organizing theories of change. Setting-level measurement plays important roles in motivating change and in guiding and monitoring change efforts. The chapter asks when it is appropriate to use aggregate information about individuals (such as average test scores) to characterize settings, and introduces alternative ways to measure setting features detailed in other chapters. When policy makers focus only on individual outcomes and not on setting features that affect outcomes, they risk holding setting accountable for issues that are not under their control and miss the opportunity to hold settings accountable for features that they do control and which they can change to improve outcomes for youth.
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