Monday, April 30, 2012

Get Ready for Summer Vacation

No, I’m not going to recommend an Internet travel agency or list possible islands in the Caribbean that you may want to visit. I do my best to stay on task and help you have the best possible grant program that you can have. So, I’ll leave the travel tips to someone else.

The last few weeks of school are always tough. Unless you happen to be one of the few full-time grant writers in schools around the country, writing grants is probably pretty low on your agenda right now. If you are going to get anything accomplished to help you get grants in the near future, I would definitely put my time and energy into making sure you get good, honest assessments of your current programs as I suggested in my last blog post. The information you get from those assessments is absolutely vital to the grants you will write in the summer and the fall.  

Once you get those assessments completed, scored, and have a copy of all the reports, it’s time to sit down with colleagues and pinpoint the weakest academic areas in your district, campus, or classroom. Don’t look at your results with preconceived notions. Just read the data and be sure you have everything disaggregated by class, by gender, by socio-economic status, by teacher, by subject, etc. In other words, you need that data sliced and diced fifty different ways, broken down to such an extent that you can pinpoint your problem areas easily and quickly.

Who knows what the data will tell you? They may tell you that only 10% of your 5th graders who were absent 15 days or more passed your state reading test. They may tell you that one particular style of teaching math was 35% more effective in reaching low socio-economic students than another style. The data may show you that longer periods of students reading independently in appropriate level books had a more positive effect than using a thousand worksheets each year. They may also tell you that you need to order a lot more library books.

Again, don’t be prejudiced going in. Let the data lead you to logical conclusions. It is very helpful if you can look at the results of your assessments in small groups. It is also helpful to assess the data before you go into summer vacation if at all possible. That gives you time to agree on your problem areas and to do some of your grant writing during the summer break.

It’s okay to look at the data in the first part of the summer if you can get everyone back together, but if you wait until the fall, everyone is going to be extremely busy at the first of the new semester. Chances are you won’t write grants in time to get grant money during the fall semester, and that means the grant money can’t be used to help your students until the spring.

That timeline is simply not acceptable. Review your data in May or June. List your problems in order of priority. Assign someone to collect all the available information needed to complete a grant proposal and apply for at least some of the grants you need during the summer.

Chances are you won’t do that unless you finish your assessments, get them scored and disaggregated, and determine the major problems you have. You might even have time using a good grant database to find the grantors you need before school is out.

No, I won’t help you find the ideal spot for a summer vacation, but I will try to help you get ready to be a successful summer grant writer. It won’t take up much of your vacation if you lay the proper groundwork now.

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