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Peek's Perspective

Your Programs


With the year winding down and the fall semester coming to a close, its time for you to get very serious about evaluating the programs you have in place at your school. These evaluations will not only help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of each program; they will also tell you which programs require grant money to be repaired or enhanced.

[content block] If you have programs that already use grant money, it is important to be sure that grant money is being spent properly and that the program is moving in a positive direction. You need to make sure that -- with half the school year almost gone -- you are on track to meet goals associated with any grant that supports that program. Grant money is free; you dont have to pay it back. You are, however, obliged to do everything possible to meet the goals you set when you first applied for the grant.

Programs that arent supported by grant money still need to be thoroughly evaluated at midyear. Naturally, you want to know if you are being successful with your students, but you also want to document progress in case you decide to apply for grant money to repair or enhance the program. When you apply for a grant, you must have as much statistical information as possible to prove that you need grant money to improve a program that is not working as well as it should or to expand a program that is doing exceptionally well.

If you are talking about reading or math programs, you need to know exactly how much growth has occurred during the semester. That information also needs to be broken down by at-risk students and those not considered at-risk. After-school programs may need to be measured in terms of attendance, grade improvement, disciplinary records, and so on. Whatever the goals were for the program in question, you need to know how close you will be to reaching them if the same growth occurs in the second semester. These midyear evaluations may require batteries of testing, consistent observation, a series of surveys, or roundtable discussions. The feedback should be studied and carefully documented. Then, and only then, are you ready to re-establish goals for the spring semester. Then, and only then, are you ready to write new grants to repair or enhance programs you already have in place.

As we approach the holiday season, it is all too easy to coast into the end of the semester. That would be a bad decision for a couple of reasons. First, it is imperative to evaluate the programs that you have in place and establish goals for the second semester. Second, hundreds and hundreds of grants have deadlines between December 15 and January 2. You really need to evaluate programs and write grants to fix or enhance those programs right now. Then, when the holiday break does come, you will truly deserve and enjoy your time of rest and relaxation.

Don Peek is 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. Learn more about The School Funding Center at the bottom of this newsletter.

Article by Don Peek
Education World®
Copyright © 2010 Education World

Originally published 12/07/2009