It's That Time of Year!

Where has the time gone? It is already mid-April, and it’s not that long before the 2010-11 school year will draw to a close. While I’ll always tell you it is time to be writing grants, I also want to emphasize that it is the time of year to assess each of the programs in your classroom, your campus, and your district. It is very difficult to complete a grant application if you do not have good statistical information about each program you are trying to initiate or improve.

Typically when we think of assessments, reading and math come to mind. That’s not unusual. It is unlikely that there is a nationally-normed test or a state test out there that does not include reading or math. It is true that these are important programs, and some would argue they are the most important programs. In terms of getting grant money, however, your reading and math assessments will typically only help you get grant money for your reading and math programs.

If you have an after-school program focused on tutoring, you have to measure the success of that program. Were you able to raise the grade averages of the students who regularly attended tutoring? Did their attendance improve because of the extra attention you were giving them? What were the goals of your after-school program? Did you reach them? Some type of assessment has to be in place for you to measure progress. This statistical data can help you get grant money to expand your program or to start a new program.

Did you have a special program focused on nutrition and exercise to help with the child obesity problem that is so much in the spotlight right now? Did your program produce leaner, healthier students? Did you keep attendance figures? How about height and weight charts? How often did you have parent conferences to promote your program at home as well as at school?

In short, you should not have a program in your classroom, campus, or district that is not measured extensively. Progress should be measured in terms of individual students and for groups of students. Progress should be measured in terms of individual teachers and for groups of teachers. When you assess programs in the proper way, you should have no trouble seeking out and finding grant money that will help you expand or improve promising programs.

Congress is having a tough time right now defending where all our tax money goes. If you properly assess your programs, you will have no such problems with your local taxpayers. You will also be able to tell granting agencies that give you money exactly where their dollars were spent and the precise impact that their money produced.

Without a doubt your ability to assess your current programs will have a huge impact on your ability to compete for grant money in the future. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to begin a new program or fix one that is not working as well as it should, grantors will know you are on top of things when you provide statistical information that documents individual and group growth.

Your final assessments for the 2010-11 school year should begin soon. You don’t want to do them too early and deny yourself some of the growth that could have occurred, but you also don’t want to wait until the last week when you don’t get the best effort from your students. Regardless of your timetable, make sure you measure every aspect of your program that you can possibly measure. Then, use that information to find as much grant money as possible to improve or expand your programs.