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Peek's Perspective

What Progress
Have You Made?


Good statistical information is always important when you're applying for grants or evaluating an existing grant program. While some schools only gather statistics at the end of the school year, this information is far too important to wait so long to gather.

Let's say you started a reading grant program at the beginning of the year. Your 5th graders were reading two grade levels below average. Your goal was to have them show two years' growth in one school year. Now, you have almost completed the first semester. If you test your students and find they have gained, on average, a full year's growth during the first semester, then you have the proof that your grant program is working. If you find they have only grown an average of three months during the first semester, you will need to make changes in your program for the second semester or you will have no chance of meeting your goal.

[content block] Another scenario: Let's say you are preparing a grant application based on the high number of disciplinary referrals you had during the 2007-08 school year. If you are applying for the grant in January or later, you should also include statistics on disciplinary referrals during the fall semester of 2009. Have referrals increased over the same time the previous year? Have they gone down? Was the number of referrals a fluke, or were they the beginning of a pattern that is steadily worsening? By tracking the number of referrals in the fall semester, you show that you fully understand the problem you have and may very well have a handle on correcting it. That's why you're applying for a grant: to provide the funds needed to continue on the path to improved behavior.

Giving good, solid statistical information in a grant application always improves it. The fresher the information, the more it improves the application -- especially when it shows a pattern of behavior that will only worsen if you do not intervene. That means you have to gather and analyze information by grading period or by semester rather than waiting for the end of the year to gather it.

Most schools in the United States are very near the end of a semester at this time of year. Use a small amount of time at the end of this semester or the beginning of the next to gather important information for the grants you may write. It is imperative that you do so.

At times when the economy is tightening -- like it is right now -- grant money might become tighter in the semester ahead. Those who have gathered the freshest statistical information and use it in their grant applications next year will definitely have an advantage over those who have not.

Article by Don Peek
Education World®
Copyright © 2009 Education World

Originally published 02/05/2009