When you apply for grant money, it is imperative that you understand and have measured the problems you wish to address. It is also imperative that you clearly state your goals and how you intend to measure achievement of them. Clearly stated goals and assessment procedures will demonstrate to the granting agency that you have a plan to use their grant money effectively.
Ineffective grant applications include no concrete goals, or tentative goals that are neither clear nor measurable.
Meet Don Peek
Don Peek is a former educator and past president of the training division of Renaissance Learning. He now runs The School Funding Center, a company that provides grant information and grant-writing services to schools. The School Funding Center Grant Database attempts to list every grant available to schools across the United States. It is updated daily and currently contains more than 110,000 grant opportunities worth more than $6.5 billion. To learn more, or to subscribe to the School Fnding Center Grant Database, go to schoolfundingcenter.com.
If you were giving grant money to a school with a sixth grade class reading two years below grade level, would you rather read that "every sixth grade student will significantly improve his/her reading level during the school year" or "during the current school year, sixth grade students will on the average improve their reading scores by 12 months in a 6-month period as measured by the Renaissance Learning STAR reading assessment tool"?
The first goal is nebulous. What does "significantly improve" mean? Will you fail if "every" student doesn't show improvement?
The second goal is realistic and measurable. Using proper techniques with a group of students, you can double typical growth. Also, you are looking for average growth. (A large group of students will never show even growth. They start in different places; they grow at different rates.) This goal's clarity and its measurable assessment make it a good goal for a grant application. You may reach the goal or you may not, but both you and the granting agency will know whether or not you did.
The following are additional examples of goals that are clear and measurable. You could easily use any of them as a goal on a grant application:
- Using nutrition counseling and exercise programs with parents and students, our elementary school will reduce the number of students classified "overweight" and "obese" by 50% within the next twelve months.
- Students' attendance rates will improve by 5% during the current school year, rising from the current 90% attendance level to 95% attendance.
- At least 98% of all middle school students will pass the state computer literacy test by the end of the current school year.
- Each high school science class will use the outdoor science lab to successfully complete at least three essential elements during the current school year.
- Eighty-five percent of all eighth grade students will pass the state mathematics assessment test.
- Disciplinary referrals will fall by 25% during the second semester of the current school year.
- Parent involvement will increase by 50% during the last two grading periods of the year based on attendance at parent-teacher conferences and participation in parent-teacher telephone conferences and note exchanges.
- By purchasing a twelve-station piano lab and implementing a basic piano class as an elective, 60 Title I students per semester will take piano lessons. Surveys show all 60 students would have been unable to afford private lessons.
You might notice that detailed strategies are not included in those goals. You will definitely need detailed strategies, but you must first have concrete goals to work toward before you list the strategies that will take you there.
In the past weeks we have discussed how important it is to know the problems you are having in your school. We have discussed the need to provide statistical information to show the extent of those problems. Once both a problem and the extent of the problem are evident, it is time to establish concrete, measurable goals you wish to achieve. Doing that is vital. It will show the granting agency that you know where you've been, and you also know exactly where you want to go.
Article by Don Peek
Copyright © 2009 Education World
Originally published 02/05/2009