Watchdog Indiana Home Page K-12 Education Research Compilation & Summaries Homework Enhances Learning Potential (H.E.L.P.) H.E.L.P. Indiana H.E.L.P. Legislation Third Grade "Best Practices" Third Grade Best Practices Inventory Report K-12 State Tuition Support
Reasons to Support H.E.L.P.
The Spring 2010 ISTEP+ tests measured the academic achievement of 81,201 third grade students in 1,111 Indiana public schools. The maximum English/Language Arts test score for third graders was 780, and the maximum Math test score was 735. A committee of more than 100 teachers from across the state established a third grade English/Language Arts test score of 417 as the Pass level and a score of 521 as the Pass+ level. The Math test thresholds were 413 for the Pass level and 513 for the Pass+ level.
Seventy percent of third graders statewide scored at or above the Pass level on BOTH the English/Language Arts & Math tests. It is unacceptable that 30% of our students did not attain this minimal level of academic achievement. Too many students are academically handicapped by underachievement at the very beginning of their school career. The outcome is a statewide high school graduation rate of only 81.5 percent, with only 74% of the graduates receiving a Core 40 Diploma.
Only 9% of all third grade students scored at or above the Pass+ level on both ISTEP+ tests. This lackluster result helps explain why just 31% of all our high school graduates earned an Academic Honors Diploma. Only 8% of our 11th and 12th graders scored 3, 4, or 5 on Advanced Placement Tests. Much better education outcomes are needed to succeed in the current jobs environment.
Both of these areas of academic shortcoming would be addressed by the proposed Homework Enhances Learning Potential (H.E.L.P.) legislation prepared by the Legislative Services Agency. Effectively supervised homework in Grades 1, 2, and 3 will help more students score at or above the Pass level on BOTH the English/Language Arts & Math ISTEP+ tests. Just as important, our most capable students will be motivated to maximize their academic achievement with the result that more of them will score at or above the Pass+ level on both tests. Additional H.E.L.P. details are available at http://www.finplaneducation.net/HELP.htm.
The evidence-based reasons to support H.E.L.P. to improve education outcomes are listed next.
1. Maximizing academic achievement is an important factor in securing a good job that pays enough to support a family.
Data from the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics consistently show that with increased
education, median earnings rise and average rates of unemployment fall. Listed
next by educational attainment are the 2009 U.S. unemployment rates and earnings
for full-time wage and salary workers aged 25 and over.
Less than a High School Diploma: 14.6% Unemployment Rate; $454 Median Weekly Earnings
High School Graduate: 9.7% Unemployment Rate; $626 Median Weekly Earnings
Some College, No Degree: 8.6% Unemployment Rate; $699 Median Weekly Earnings
ALL WORKERS: 7.9% Average Unemployment Rate; $774 Median Weekly Earnings
Associate Degree: 6.8% Unemployment Rate; $761 Median Weekly Earnings
Bachelor's Degree: 5.2% Unemployment Rate; $1,025 Median Weekly Earnings
Master's Degree: 3.9% Unemployment Rate; $1,257 Median Weekly Earnings
Professional Degree: 2.3% Unemployment Rate; $1,529 Median Weekly Earnings
Doctoral Degree: 2.5% Unemployment Rate; $1,532 Median Weekly Earnings
It is apparent that the likelihood of gainful employment increases as the level of education increases. It is also true that the level of education is a factor in our prison population. An Indiana Department of Corrections report reveals that as of July 1, 2009, 34% of adult offenders were illiterate, 57% had a GED or high school diploma, and 9% had at least one college degree. It costs us over $1.37 million a day to incarcerate 25,269 adult offenders in 23 IDOC facilities at $54.28 per day.
Of special interest is an IDOC report on The Impact of Education and Employment on Recidivism. Recidivism is defined as a return to IDOC incarceration within two years of release.
As the level of education increases, the likelihood of recidivating
37.7% Return Rate of offenders with a below GED education at release
30.1% Return Rate of offenders with a GED/HS Diploma at release
21.2% Return Rate of offenders with a college education at release
As employment increases, the likelihood of recidivating decreases:
44.7% Return Rate of offenders with a below GED education at release and no post-release employment
17.3% Return Rate of offenders with a college education at release and post-release employment
A Brookings Institution working paper emphasizes that workforce education is a very important factor when businesses decide where to locate: see http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2000/05metropolitanpolicy_cohen/cohen.pdf.
In a survey of business leaders, 72% cited workforce suitability as the top criterion in site selection. Market access and cost structure followed with 65% and 59% respectively. Corporate executive emphasis has changed from "location, location, location" to "education, education, education." Our knowledge-based economy requires technical literacy at all skill levels. The minimum reading skill level required of new factory workers has risen from the 10th grade reading level to the equivalent of two years of college or more. Completing an educational program demonstrates qualities - such as initiative, willingness to learn, and organizational ability - that employers value.
"Connecting the dots" is not that difficult. Maximizing academic achievement increases the likelihood of getting a job that pays a living wage because employees want to locate their businesses where there is a technically competent workforce. The gainful employment that results from a well-educated workforce benefits all of us because fewer Hoosiers will be incarcerated.
Indiana is not "connecting" its dot. A whopping 30% of our third graders failed to score at or above the Pass level on BOTH the 2010 English/Language Arts & Math ISTEP tests. Just as disturbing, only 9% of all third grade students scored at or above the Pass+ level on both ISTEP tests.
The proposed H.E.L.P. legislation will help maximize the education achievement of our third graders by fostering effective partnerships between our public school education professionals and parents or other concerned community members.Good education outcomes at the third grade level are important to keep our children from falling irrevocably behind in the quest to secure a job that pays a living wage.
2. School governing bodies must establish volunteer partnerships with families and concerned community members to help our good teachers better educate Hoosier children.
The Michigan Department of Education reviewed much of the available research about how parent involvement in children's education is related to academic achievement. The review identified the evidence-based findings listed next..
a.School age children spend 70% of their waking hours (including weekends and holidays) outside of school.
b.The earlier in a child’s educational process parent involvement begins, the more powerful the effects.
c.The most effective forms of parent involvement are those which engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities at home.
d.Lack of parental involvement is the biggest problem facing public schools.
e.When parents are involved students have higher grades, higher test scores, higher graduation rates, better school attendance, increased motivation, better self-esteem, lower rates of suspension, decreased use of drugs and alcohol, and fewer instances of violent behavior.
f.Family participation in education is twice as predictive of students’ academic success as family socioeconomic status.
g.The more intensely parents are involved, the more beneficial the achievement effects.
h.Parents of high-achieving students set higher standards for their children’s educational activities than parents of low-achieving students.
i.A parent's perception that their children and school want them to be involved is a major factor regarding parental involvement in the education of their children.
j.Although most parents do not know how to help their children with their education, with guidance and support they may become increasingly involved in home learning activities and find themselves with opportunities to teach, be models for, and guide their children.
k.When schools encourage children to practice reading at home with parents, the children make significant gains in reading achievement compared to those who only practice at school.
l.Most students at all levels want their families to be more knowledgeable partners about schooling and are willing to take active roles in assisting communications between home and school.
m.The strongest and most consistent predictors of parent involvement at school and at home are the specific school programs and teacher practices that encourage parent involvement at school and guide parents in how to help their children at home.
n.Resources and services from the community must be identified and integrated to strengthen school programs, family practices, and student learning and development.
A Johns Hopkins University research paper identifies the principles listed next to help educators, parents, and community partners work better together to support student success: see http://www.csos.jhu.edu/p2000/pdf/Literature%20Review%20-%20Epstein%20and%20Sheldon%2006.pdf
o.Parents care about their children, but need good, clear information from educators in order to remain involved in their children’s education from preschool through high school.
p.Well documented problems with student achievement, motivation, attitudes about education, school behavior, and future plans are partly due to "old think" that separates school and students from home and community, leaving teachers to work in isolation from other influential people in children’s lives.
q.It is necessary for educators to "think new" about the communications, connections, and coordinated actions they must conduct with families and community partners to help more students succeed to their full potential.
r.Parents, educators, and others in the community share responsibility for students’ learning and development.
s.A program of school, family, and community partnerships is an essential component of school and classroom organization.
t.Programs of school, family, and community partnerships must include a focus on increasing student learning and development.
u.When plans for partnerships are linked to school goals for student success, family and community involvement can measurably affect students’ learning and development.
v.Measures are required that assess the quality of program implementation, interim outcomes (e.g., parents’ responses), and ultimate outcomes of student achievement, attendance, behavior, health, and other indicators of success.
If family and community involvement is important for student success, as decades of studies indicate, then we must address a more difficult question: How can more families and concerned community members become involved in our children’s education in ways that contribute to student success? The proposed H.E.L.P. legislation will help maximize the education achievement of our third graders by fostering effective partnerships between our public school education professionals and parents or other concerned community members.
3. Effectively supervised homework every day during the crucial early school years is a classwork-coordinated learning activity that (a) delivers the message that education is important and (b) helps students maximize their academic achievement.
The evidence-based conclusions listed next are included in a study from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, titled The Uses of Time for Teaching and Learning: see http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/SER/UsesofTime/index.html.
a.Student high achievers are engaged in "deliberate out-of-school learning activities" - defined as homework, part-time work, internships, apprenticeships, and leisure activities involving communication skills, problem solving, and decision making - for about 25 to 35 of their approximately 60 to 70 out-of-school waking hours in a given week.
b.The regularity of literacy-related activities as part of family life (e.g., being read to, going to the library, buying books) is one of the most powerful predictors of literacy achievement in school.
c.Adult involvement while homework is being done is associated with high achievement, but the exact nature of the relationship between homework and academic achievement is unclear.
d.Most studies of tutoring and mentoring find positive impacts on students' achievement, motivation, attitudes toward education, self-esteem, and self-confidence.
The importance of school, homework, and activities that build student skills and feelings of success must be reinforced by families and concerned community members with learning activities that are coordinated with classwork. The proposed H.E.L.P. legislation encourages effective homework supervision as one ongoing important community-based learning activity for our first, second, and third graders.
4. Resources are provided to help teachers prepare homework assignments that have a meaningful connection to academic achievement.
Section 11 of the proposed H.E.L.P. legislation requires the Indiana Department of Education to post guidelines for teachers on its web site on how to prepare and assign daily homework that has a meaningful connection to student academic achievement. Even though the H.E.L.P. program is administered by the IDOE, the IDOE cannot mandate the format and content of lesson plans and homework assignments. The IDOE can only offer guidelines on what constitutes meaningful homework.
While the IDOE teacher guidelines for meaningful homework may address fundamental literacy requirements for first, second, and third grade students, the guidelines are primarily expected to identify those homework characteristics directly related to academic achievement. One source of information on what constitutes meaningful homework is the ASCD review of applicable research.
ASCD concludes that the best homework tasks exhibit five characteristics. First, the task has a clear academic purpose, such as practice, checking for understanding, or applying knowledge or skills. Second, the task efficiently demonstrates student learning. Third, the task promotes ownership by offering choices and being personally relevant. Fourth, the task instills a sense of competence - the student can success fully complete it without help. Last, the task is aesthetically pleasing - it appears enjoyable and interesting.
Maximizing the academic achievement of our first, second, and third graders is enhanced when all concerned parties have access to authoritative information on what constitutes meaningful homework.The proposed H.E.L.P. legislation requires the IDOE to post meaningful homework guidelines on its website. The guidelines will not handcuff local education professionals with specific homework format requirements.
5. The amount of daily homework is left to the discretion of teachers and school administrators, who also decide whether or not the homework submitted by a student is satisfactorily completed.
While Section 6 of the proposed H.E.L.P. legislation requires every first, second, and third grade teacher to assign meaningful homework every school day that has a connection to academic achievement, the legislation does NOT dictate how much homework must be assigned. The amount of daily homework is properly left to discretion of teachers and school administrators.
It is interesting to note that the Chicago Public Schools Homework Policy suggests a time allocation of 30 minutes a day for teacher-assigned homework in Grades 1, 2, and 3. The Policy states that the specific amount and frequency of assigned homework should be generally based on student needs, interests, and the content of the instructional program. Reference is also made to the fact that students should also be given long-term assignments, projects, and research from time to time. The proposed H.E.L.P. legislation likewise gives Indiana teachers and school administrators free reign to determine the amount and content of daily-required homework.
Section 6 of the proposed H.E.L.P. legislation requires each Grade 1, 2, and 3 teacher to record on the last day of each school week whether each student successfully completed all assigned homework for the week under the supervision of a homework partner (for the days the student was in attendance). Because classroom teachers are the best qualified and best positioned to make the decision, teachers (under the supervision of school administrators) are the sole determiners of whether or not the homework submitted by a student is satisfactorily completed.
While H.E.L.P. requires daily homework, the management of homework properly remains the responsibility of our local education professionals.
6. Parents, guardians, and concerned community members are educated on how to effectively supervise homework completion.
Section 7 of the proposed H.E.L.P. legislation mandates that each public elementary and charter school that enrolls students in Grades 1, 2, and 3 must provide information to homework partners on how to provide effective homework supervision to students. Section 11 requires the Indiana Department of Education to include guidelines on its Internet web site for homework partners concerning how to provide effective homework supervision to students.
A homework partner is defined as "a parent, relative, neighbor, or individual who is at least 14 years of age and who provides effective homework supervision to a student in Grade 1, 2, or 3." Research shows that although all parents and other possible homework partners do not know how to help students with their education, with guidance and support they can become increasingly involved in effective out-of-school learning activities. The effective supervision of meaningful homework every school day is an important partnership building opportunity between a community and its professional educators.
Numerous resources are available to help educate parents and other concerned community members on how to maximize their effectiveness as homework partners.
Judy Caragher in her online articles Putting Homework in its Place and Getting Kids to Do Their Own Homework emphasizes the Homework Tips listed next to make homework a useful learning activity.
Establish a Homework Station. Decide with your child where the best place is for completing homework. A desk or table in you child's room is ideal because it will begin to foster the independence that you are going to expect when your child reaches middle and high school. Also, children who are easily distracted by noise and movement will have an easier time focusing in a location that's not part of the family living space. Not only should all homework be done at the homework station, but it should also be where your child deposits her backpack and books when arriving home from school. That way, it's easier to repack for the next day, and it's more likely that your child will arrive at school with all of the necessary assignments and materials.
Create a Homework Toolbox. A homework toolbox will eliminate the procrastinator's ability to stall and help all kids make a more effective use of time. All you need is an inexpensive plastic container with a lid that's a couple of inches deep and big enough to hold 8-1/2" x 11" sheets of paper. These are easy to find in the cooking or storage sections of large discount or drug stores. Together with your child, fill the box with standard supplies — paper, pencils, an eraser, a sharpener, a ruler, markers, a highlighter, a glue stick, crayons, a protractor, and any other homework tool that your child needs to complete assignments. Then declare this "anti-walking" toolbox a permanent part of the homework station.
Determine the Best Time for Homework. As you start a new school year, it's a good idea to plan with your child when homework is to be done. The goal should be to select a regular time that is workable for everyone — both the family's schedule and your child's needs. Think about your child's temperament. Does she need to run around and get rid of some pent up energy after school? Does he need some "down time?" Homework time should not be a punishment, and there are many different ways to schedule it. If you can find the right time with your child — and be consistent about it — the whole process will be more peaceful, as well as more efficient and productive.
Provide Direction — But Not Directions. Many children do need help with homework, but it is important to help in ways that will lead to independence. Consider this: Before they've even glanced at the directions, kids often will show parents a worksheet and say, "I don't get it." Kids know what they're doing; why spend time figuring out directions if you can get Mom or Dad to explain what to do? In these cases, rather than reading the directions to yourself and then explaining them, ask your child to read the directions aloud to you. This strategy enables kids to hear the directions, which is often all that's needed to make the assignment clear. Talk about what needs to be completed — even if it is only a portion of the assignment—and then disappear. The goal is to nurture and help your child believe in her ability to be successful. When your child has completed his homework, the homework should be reviewed and your child told if the homework has been satisfactorily completed.
Offer Guidance and Support When Needed. If your child is one who needs individual support and attention both at school and at home, tackle the assignments one at a time. Go over the directions and materials with your child, making sure he is clear about what needs to be done and how to do it. If necessary, consequences can be implemented if your child does not give sufficient attention to satisfactory homework completion.
The National PTA believes that assisting homework and test preparation is one of the most important responsibilities parents have in their children's education, and offers an impressive list of Homework Help resources.
The identification and distribution of authoritative information on how to effectively supervise homework completion will help build strong partnerships between a community's parents (and other concerned community members) and its public school professionals.
7. The weekly homework rates of community public schools measure the extent to which a community values education and are NOT the responsibility of individual teachers.
Section 6 of the proposed H.E.L.P. legislation requires each first, second, and third grade teacher to record for each student on the last day of each school week whether the student successfully completed all assigned homework for the week under the supervision of a homework partner for the days the student was in attendance. Section 8 mandates that each elementary and charter school must compute a separate cumulative homework rate for each Grade 1, 2, and 3 and promptly post them weekly on the school's Internet web site. The weekly "homework rate" is the percentage of students who submit homework satisfactorily completed under the supervision of a homework partner every day the students attended school during a school week (excluding a student's first day back from an excused absence).
What is measured is important. Governor Mitch Daniels has often stated, "If you're not keeping score, you're just practicing." Indiana state government had no performance measurement system prior to January 2005. About 400 performance "metrics" (or measurements of success) have been created for 74 state government agencies that are reported quarterly to Governor Daniels and the public. The goal of measuring agency performance is to demonstrate the tangible results being generated with Hoosier tax dollars. Governor Daniels uses the performance metrics to support his conclusion that state government is delivering good results in spite of 25% budget cuts that have resulted in a reduction of state employees to the 1983 level. Details on how our state government measures its current performance and the goals it has established for the future can be found at http://www.in.gov/omb/2342.htm.
K-12 education outcomes are properly considered important enough government results to be measured by the ISTEP tests. Evidence-based research tells us that the greatest opportunity for improved education outcomes lies with effective partnerships between parents (and other concerned community members) and education professionals at the first, second, and third grade levels. The weekly H.E.L.P. homework rates are continuous improvement measures of the all-important willingness of communities to effectively partner with their public educational professionals. Section 11 of the proposed H.E.L.P. legislation requires the Indiana Department of Education to display on its Internet web site the weekly homework rates for each school arranged by county and school corporation.
The great majority of our school professionals recognize that meaningful Grade 1, 2, and 3 homework is a good way to establish and maintain effective daily partnerships with parents and other concerned community members. Teachers and principals are very willing to help parents and other concerned community members be effective homework partners. The H.E.L.P. homework rates do NOT measure teacher performance and are not the responsibility of individual teachers. It is the responsibility of parents and other concerned community members to accept the willingness of our school professionals to form effective partnerships to improve education outcomes.
Stronger public school partnerships with parents and other concerned community members are the next best hope for significant improvement in Hoosier education outcomes.The H.E.L.P. homework rates gauge the extent to which communities value education by measuring the willingness of parents and other concerned community members to effectively partner with their professional teachers. As long as teachers conscientiously assign meaningful homework, they cannot be held responsible for the willingness of parents and other concerned community members to partner with them in an effort maximize the education outcomes of their children.
8. Homework rates are easy to compute and report by Grade 1, 2, and 3 within each school, and individual students needing effective homework supervision cannot be identified without the assistance of a school principal.
H.E.L.P. requires all first second and third grade teachers to record for each student on the last day of each school week whether the student successfully completed all assigned homework for the week under the supervision of a homework partner for the days the student was in attendance.
A school's existing grade book computer application can be easily enhanced by its information technology personnel so teachers the last day of each school week can easily indicate YES or NO for each of their students whether that student had the assistance of a homework partner each day they attended school that week.No other documentation is needed - first, second, and third grade teachers have few enough students that they know who is satisfactorily completing their homework with the assistance of a homework partner without the use of documentation beyond what is already in use.
Each school must compute for its Grades 1, 2, and 3 a separate weekly cumulative homework rate (the percent of students whose homework was supervised by a homework partner every day they attended school during the week). These weekly homework rates must be included on the school's Internet web site not later than the second day after the last day in each school week. The information technology personnel serving the school can devise a computer application to compute the homework rates using the weekly data input by the teachers.
The Indiana Department of Education must include on its Internet web site the current homework rates for every school displayed according to county and school corporation. It is anticipated that designated personnel at each school will use their school PIN and password to promptly input their weekly Grade 1, 2 and 3 homework rates on the IDOE web site. IDOE information technology personnel can prepare their web site to readily accept and display the inputted data.
Section 8 of the proposed H.E.L.P. legislation prohibits the weekly homework rates from being identified with the names of teachers or students. This section protects individual students from being identified without the assistance of a school principal. Concerned community members who are interested in being a homework partner for a student who is not their child, and does not have the permission of the child's parent, must contact a school principal before being assigned as a homework partner.
The proposed H.E.L.P. legislation is practical because (1) homework rates are easy for teachers and school personnel to compute and (2) individual students needing effective homework supervision from someone other than their parents cannot be identified without the assistance of a school principal.
9. Elementary school principals must maintain a list of approved homework partners that have undergone a recent criminal history record check for those students whose effective homework supervision is provided by someone other than a parent (or someone or some organization selected by a parent).
The weekly homework rates in the proposed H.E.L.P. legislation will identify the extent to which parents and other concerned community members are willing to partner with their public schools to provide effective homework supervision for their first, second, and third grade students.
The first step to improve homework partnerships (and homework rates) is to educate and motivate parents. The preferred outcome is that parents will recognize the importance of effective homework supervision, and make the decision to be the best possible homework partners with their children. Some parents may choose to designate without school involvement a family member, friend, neighbor, or suitable organization to provide effective homework supervision for their children.
Section 10 of the proposed H.E.L.P.legislation requires the governing body of each school corporation to solicit volunteers from the community to become homework partners. Section 9 requires each school to maintain a list of approved homework partners, and keep a file on each homework partner that includes a limited criminal history record that is less than one year old. Indiana Code 10-13-3-36 provides that the State Police may not charge a fee for the release of a limited criminal history record requested by a school corporation. Parents, and homework partners designated by a parent, do not have to be approved by a school (and cannot be required to undergo a limited criminal history record check).
The proposed H.E.L.P. legislation does not REQUIRE each student to have a homework partner. However, the required weekly homework rates are expected to exert considerable public pressure on communities to establish effective partnerships with their public schools. This public pressure is likewise expected to result in schools devising various programs to use their list of approved volunteer homework partners to assist those first, second, and third grade students whose parents cannot or will not take an active part in their children's education.
If parents do not take proper ownership of their children's education, the proposed H.E.L.P. legislation will encourage concerned community members to establish effective and safe partnerships with their public schools.
10. Homework rates continuously identify where concerned parents and community members can target their volunteer efforts to promote school partnerships that help maximize the academic achievement of their children.
Section 8 of the proposed H.E.L.P. legislation requires each public school with a Grade 1, 2, and/or 3 to post its weekly homework rates on the school's Internet web site. Section 11 requires the Indiana Department of Education to include on its web site the weekly homework rates for each school displayed according to county and school corporation. According to Section 10, each school corporation governing body must publicize the homework rates of each applicable school within the school corporation at least twice a school year.
The ongoing public listing of weekly homework rates can be part of a continuous improvement process where concerned parents and community members target their volunteer efforts to develop school partnerships that help maximize the academic achievement of their community's children. Improving homework rates will help two categories of first, second, and third grade students improve their education outcomes.
Some students are academically adept. They become capable of passing both the third grade English/Language Arts and Math ISTEP tests just by attending class without completing any homework assignments. If these students completed meaningful homework every day under the effective supervision of a homework partner, they could score at or above the Pass+ level on both ISTEP tests. This degree of early academic emphasis and achievement would eventually result in the state having more students earning much-needed Academic Honors Diplomas.
Other third grade students are not capable of passing, or motivated to pass, the English/Language Arts and Math ISTEP tests without the intervention of homework partners. Evidence-based research clearly shows that improving the percentage of students who daily submit homework satisfactorily completed under the supervision of a homework partner will lessen the number of students relegated to academic failure before they reach the fourth grade.
The media, community officials, and other concerned community members can use the required and publicly-available weekly homework rates to identify where the community's volunteer resources can best be targeted to provide homework partners. Among the numerous sources of potential homework partners are parents and other concerned individuals, in-school volunteer programs, after-school programs, churches, and businesses. Spending thirty minutes with a first, second, or third grader to read to the student, listen to the student read, or supervise the completion of a math practice sheet will have a significant positive impact.
Today more than ever, the academic potential of our children must be maximized so they can earn a living wage and withstand the allure of criminal shortcuts. When a community is not a full partner with its education professionals, that community is condoning a type of child abuse with ever-increasing negative consequences. The use of well-publicized weekly homework rates can help a community continuously focus its volunteer resources on crucial early-intervention school partnerships.
11. Community efforts to increase homework rates are expected to improve measurable education outcomes.
Evidence-based research tells us that adult involvement with the daily homework of first, second, and third grade students is a powerful predictor of academic achievement. Good measures of the academic achievement of Hoosier third graders are the English/Language Arts and Math ISTEP test results. A summary of the Spring 2010 ISTEP test results for all 1,111 Indiana public schools with a third grade can be found at http://www.finplaneducation.net/HELP_indiana.htm.
The effectiveness of efforts to improve community and school partnerships by increasing H.E.LP. homework rates can be judged by changes in the third grade ISTEP test results at individual schools. Increasing the percentage of students who submit daily homework satisfactorily completed under the supervision of a homework partner is expected to improve two categories of ISTEP test results.
First of all, increasing homework rates are expected to increase the percentage of third grade students scoring at or above the Pass+ level on both the English/Language Arts and Math ISTEP tests. Our more academically adept students will be motivated to maximize their academic potential instead of "just getting by."
Secondly, partnership efforts to increase homework rates can be expected to help more third grade students who are less academically adept score at or above the Pass level on both ISTEP tests. Fewer students will be doomed to academic failure before they reach the fourth grade.
Evidence-based research strongly suggests that increasing homework rates will result in significantly more third grade students succeeding on the ISTEP tests. The H.E.L.P. program is a desirable state program because there are easily-measured performance metrics to determine its effectiveness.
Concerted efforts to form effective community and school partnerships can significantly impact education outcomes. One recent Hoosier example is described next.
KAT program 'wildly successful'
By Sarah Lang, The Lebanon Reporter staff writer, October 7, 2010
Lebanon, IN - After a highly successful pilot program at the Lebanon Area Boys and Girls Club last spring, Hattie B. Stokes Elementary is making the Kids at the Table program its own and changing it into a full-fledged program, housed at the school five days a week.
In conjunction with The Caring Center, Hunger Initiative Team and the Boys and Girls Club, 44 Stokes students participated in the 10-week pilot program in the spring. The students were given a hot dinner and time for homework and to improve literacy and social skills.
And of those 44 students, 41 of them improved their reading level by at least one grade level.
"That’s incredible, remarkable results, especially for a program as short as 10 weeks," said Jill Troha, area director for United Way of Central Indiana. "It was wildly successful. They started loving school. Their absence rate and incidences of behavioral outbursts decreased, their tardiness, turning in homework — everything got better."
And now, Stokes Principal Kelly Sollman is hoping to continue those great results this year through a school-based KAT program. It runs from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and currently has an average of 55 students attending.
The program is by invitation. Sollman said she sent out 135 invitations this school year, but didn’t hear back from many of them. Invitations are sent out to students Sollman and the teachers feel would benefit most from KAT, typically from the 82 percent of the student body who are on free or reduced lunches.
Children still receive a free, hot dinner in the program, but Sollman wants to focus KAT more on improved literacy skills.
"Not only do we want to feed kids short term, but give them the tools to prepare to reduce poverty in the future," Sollman said. "The only way out of generational poverty is programs like this that close the academic gap and provide nutrition. I definitely think KAT is an opportunity for kids to get that support and help they might not otherwise receive."
Sollman’s short-term goal is to have 100 kids attending KAT on a daily basis. But, she said, she has more than 300 children who would benefit from the program - having homework, literacy and nutrition needs met.
But for that to happen, she needs many more volunteers.
"We need volunteers to make this program its best," she said. "We can only service as many children as we have volunteers to help. They make the time more meaningful."
The ideal volunteer-to-student ratio for the program is three-to-one or four-to-one, Sollman said. But sometimes, even a one-to-one ratio is necessary.
By moving the program from the Boys and Girls Club to Stokes, Sollman said it gives them the opportunity to expand since there is more space. She hopes to develop literacy work stations in different classrooms and use the gym for physical fitness.
"We're trying to make it different than the school day, make it more fun and meaningful for them," she said. "It's still early though; we're not there yet."
The Lebanon Community School Corporation food services director, Jennifer Rice, has been in contact with the state, which is how Sollman receives the food to feed the children every day. Other aspects of the program, such as a few staff members, are currently being funded through grant dollars from the Community Action of Greater Indianapolis.
But that funding stream will run out at the end of this semester. So, Sollman said, they are looking for other grants.
"This (program) is definitely a need and a priority and something people should be aware of, " she said. "We want to help these families buy giving the children all the support they need to be successful. The goal is to see all of them graduate from high school."
And the program at the Boys and Girls Club continues, with volunteers serving roughly 50 children a free dinner and helping with homework after school on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Joe's Cafe from St. Joe's Catholic Church is providing food on Thursdays, and the Boys and Girls Club and The Caring Center are providing food on Mondays and Fridays. Starting next week, Warehouse Sports Bar & Grill will also come on board, serving dinner on Tuesdays.
That leaves just Wednesdays, and Theresa Hanners of The Caring Center hopes another business partner will join their cause.
"We want every child at risk of being food insecure to have a hot meal every day," Hanners said, adding that their are more than 2,500 students in Boone County on free or reduced lunch.
"The ultimate goal," Troha said, "is to have this program available to all kids in Boone County who may benefit from it."
Anyone interested in hosting a KAT site or volunteering can contact Hanners at (765) 482-2020.
12. H.E.L.P. is cost effective and applies to public elementary and charter schools only - nonpublic private and parochial schools are not affected.
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This page was last updated on 02/03/11.