Current Application of PYD Measurement
In the PYD field, it has been difficult to agree on what defines positive youth development and consequently how to measure it (Peterson and Seligman 2004). Different measures highlight slightly different elements of youth development and use slightly different labels (Almerigi, Theokas & Lerner, 2005). In spite of the challenges, three seminal contributions to the PYD measurement field have emerged: the Developmental Assets Survey from the Search Institute (P L. Benson, Scales & Syvertsen, 2011), the Five Cs Model of PYD (Lerner, et al., 2005), and the Communities That Care Youth Survey (CTCYS) (Glaser, Van Horn, Arthur, Hawkins & Catalano, 2005). The Search Institute’s Developmental Asset framework is among the most popular asset-building approaches and has been validated in LMICs. The CTCYS assesses a wide range of risk factors and nine protective factors (Arthur, Hawkins, Pollard, Catalano & Baglioni, 2002) and has been validated in some LMICs (Baheiraei et al., 2014; Catalano et al., 2012; Shek Daniel & Yu, 2011).
Based on these earlier efforts and the PYD constructs identified in earlier reviews, Daniel Shek and colleagues developed and validated a 90-item survey instrument designed to measure 15 PYD constructs among Chinese youth (CPYDS). This instrument has subsequently been found to provide stable estimates of the 15 dimensions measured which fit into four higher-order factors (i.e., cognitive-behavioral competencies, pro-social attributes, positive identity and general positive youth development qualities). Given these findings, the CPYDS is one of the very few validated measures of PYD constructs in a non-Western culture.
Gaps in the PYD Field
Despite what is known about PYD in terms of what it is, how to measure it, and what works, there are still significant gaps in understanding. Four areas have been identified for further research in the field of positive youth development measurement (Lippman et al, 2009; Guerra et al., 2013):
• Develop a positive youth development framework for LMICs. Nearly the entire history of PYD has been in the Western context. Little attention has been paid to PYD in low-in come and middle-income countries for a variety of reasons. In these countries, economic conditions have somewhat delayed the recognition of adolescence as a life stage distinct from adulthood. As these countries develop economically, with population shifts to urban centers, there is a growing recognition of need for supports specifically designed to foster positive development among young people.
• Develop reliable, valid and culturally adaptable and customized measures for PYD for diverse populations. While a number of comprehensive PYD measurement frameworks exist, as referenced previously, many of these cannot be holistically applied in low- and middle-income settings.
• Develop a standard set of common indicators that can be used across various sectors. Common indicators within programs would make it easier to compare effectiveness across programs and countries.
• Invest in rigorous evaluation for programs to increase the evidence base for PYD programs internationally. The research developed in high-income countries has recently begun to be applied to LMICs through translation of existing approaches and developing and testing new preventive interventions in these countries. However, only a few of them have been evaluated for impact on relevant outcomes (Scales et al., 2013; Shek Daniel & Yu, 2011). Youth-focused programs must be evaluated rigorously to yield information for policymakers and other stakeholders for terminating, revising, or scaling up specific interventions.