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Evaluation Proposal sample essay

Abstract

The driving force that stimulates the founders and leaders of the program LAs BEST to aggressively seek evaluations for the program is its genuine concern to be effective and efficient in delivering the goals of the program to disadvantage children, rather than a legislative requirement.

The managements initiative of professionalizing practitioners in the after school program, particularly the staffs will make a significant impact on LAs BEST, because these individuals are the key players in the implementation and overall support system that the program provides for the disadvantaged children participating in this after school program. As the staffs are the ones involved in giving custodial care and making the learning environment/activities more engaging for the children.

There are many evaluations that were done for after school program as discussed by Scott-Little, Hamann & Jurs (2002, p. 394); usually it is the children that are evaluated. Yet for the program to be effective, there is a need to evaluate the staff.

This evaluation proposal is being submitted to meet that need, a methodological research has been designed to gather information that will guide management to create staff development sessions that will affirm and promote best practices for the program. It was also designed to gather perceptions of professionalism of the staff and to articulate the core knowledge and skills required by staffs in after school programs and how these may be acquired and updated, as well.

Introduction

In 2002, Congress passed into law the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. The passage of this act has significantly amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to expand State and local accountability and flexibility, and to stress the adoption of research-based practices. (Mahoney & Zigler, 2006) It also contained a number of new provisions that specifically affected the program of 21st Century Communities Learning Centers (21st CCLC) that was authorized under Title IV, Part B, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

It gave the States the responsibility to focus on the 21st CCLC program with specific purposes; (1) to provide opportunities for academic enrichment, particularly to students in high-poverty areas and those who attend low-performing schools. And to help the students meet State and local standards in core academic subjects such as reading and mathematics; (2) to offer students a broad array of additional services, programs, and recreational activities, that are designed to reinforce and complement the regular academic program of participating students; and (3) to offer families of students served by community learning centers opportunities for literacy and related educational development. At the same time, centers help working parents by providing a safe environment for students during non-school hours, or periods when the school is not in session. (The Law, 2006).

Description of the Program

It was in 1988 (Factsataglance.2.doc, 2007) when former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley created a program to address the growing concern of the community regarding the alarming increase of violent crimes that are mostly attributed to street gangs; the rising numbers of school drop outs, and the proliferation of illegal drugs being used by minors.

In the belief that it was the city’s fundamental moral obligation to help these individuals, Bradley created a 55-member Mayor’s Education Council, consisting of leaders coming from the business, education, child care, government, entertainment and industry sectors of the community. These leaders were tasked to structure and implement the program which was called LAs Better Educated Students for Tomorrow or LAs BEST.

LAs BEST is an innovative after school program that provides a safe and supervised learning environment for children ages 5- 12 years old immediately after the close of each school day until 6pm without cost to parents. Working parents of inner-city children, particularly those belonging to the low-income family groups, are anxious about the safety of their children during the hours after school day.

As explained by Riggs & Greenberg (2004) these hours are considered high risk based on studies of previous researchers, especially if minors are left unsupervised. Many parents fear their children will be exposed to and /or be influenced by people with destructive behaviors exacerbated by poverty. And the children themselves have expressed their fears and threats on their well being in their immediate environment or neighborhoods when interviewed according to Huang, Gribbons, Kim, Lee & Baker (2000, p. 20).

Goals of the Program

The LA’s BEST program has been designed to provide custodial care, and to provide activities to meet specific educational, social, and motivational goals. (Huang et al, 2000) The program’s goals can be concisely summarized as; 1) to provide a safe supervised environment for the participants during the hours after the close of each school day until 6pm, and 2) to develop the learning experience of the participants through a positive support system in place that would address the participants’ academic, social and motivational needs.

Brief description of the theory behind the program

The theory behind the program is that when caring, responsible adults are connecting with the children in the hours after the close of each school day, these adults make the place safe to be for the children after school, and make the learning environment and activities more engaging for the children, and are considered as a key player in making a positive impact on the children’s academic achievements, enhanced social skills and emotional maturity.

And in order for a program to deliver high quality service, priority should be given on professionalizing and training the staffs involved in the program particularly to the staff that will provide custodial care and learning activities to the children.

Description of the Client

With this in mind, this program evaluation is being done for LAs BEST with the aim of giving management an overview of the current skill level within the after school program of LAs BEST commenting on both skills, experience and training undertaken by staffs providing custodial care and learning activities to children.

Information will also be gathered on employers expectations of skills needed by the staffs employed in this program both at present and in the future. The reason that this information is being gathered is to determine if there is a gap between the current skills level and the duties required to competently manage and implement the program. The information from this evaluation will be used to identify priority areas to be addressed in a proposed Staff Development Framework that LAs BEST wishes to develop.

Evaluation Methodology

Evaluation/Research methodological design employed

Research for this evaluation will be conducted in two parts, the first part being; 1) a literature review of information available from LAs BEST commenting on current skill levels of the staffs providing custodial care and learning activities to the children. The literature review summarizes findings of research to be conducted into training, qualifications, and skill levels of the staffs in LAs BEST, 2) Informal interview of participants while gathering the literature review and, 3) Observational research commencing on site selection and interaction with participants.

The second part will be the survey proper using the structure questionnaire for the skill audit survey; 1) gathering data from managers/supervisors participants and 2) gathering data from staff participants.

Implementation measures

The literature review summary will supplement information drawn from the second part of the research, the skill audit survey and, combined, will give a more accurate view of the current skill level of the staffs.

The second part of the research for this report will be conducted through a targeted survey of managers and supervisors in LAs BEST and their respective staffs. A survey of eight questions concerning the skills of staff in relation to the duties they perform will be gathered from the managers and supervisors. While another survey of 14 questions will be gathered from the staffs.

Outcome measures

Findings from the two areas of research will be contrasted to find notable areas of commonality and discrepancy and the results of this comparison will be included in this evaluation. Issues that will be raised during the survey will also be included.

Evaluation questions to be addressed through a targeted survey of managers/supervisors.
How many staffs are involved in custodial care in your program?
What are the learning activities that your program utilizes and how many staffs are handling each activity?
Of the staffs nominated in question 1 and 2, how many have completed or undergoing training?
Indicate levels of training undertaken by staff.
Indicate whether staff, in the future, plan to undertake training and at what level.
What duties are required of your staff?
Identify areas in which staffs need to acquire skills.
Do you have a workforce plan? Is professionalizing the staff identified as a training need within the plan?

Evaluation questions to be addressed through a targeted survey of staffs
What is your current employment type? (Please tick one that apply)

__Full Time __Part Time __Casual __Permanent __Contract

__ Job Share __Flexible Hours __Other (please specify) _________________
On average how many hours per week do you work?

__1 to 10 hours __31 to 40 hours __more than 60 hours

__11 to 20 hours __41 to 50 hours

__21 to 30 hours __51 to 60 hours
How long have you held your current position?

__less a year __3 to less than 7 years __more than 10 years

__1 to less than 3 years __7 to 10 years
What is your current job title? ____________________
Does a formal (written) description of your current position exist?

__Yes __Yes, but it is not up to date

__Yes, I would be willing to provide a copy __No
What duties form part of your role on a regular basis? ___________________
What skills do you use on a regular basis? ____________________________
How does your employer support your professional development?
What is the highest level of education you have completed?
How relevant has your educational background been to your current position?
How have you kept yourself informed about after school issues over the past 12 months?
How many years have you worked in this industry?
Do you have a question that you feel should be included in future staff surveys?
Do you wish to be contacted in regard to any issues you may have raised within your response to this survey?

Manager/Supervisor Participants

Manager/Supervisor participant surveys are designed to articulate staff observation and assess areas to determine and address the different needs of staff. Gathered constructive feedback will guide management to create staff development sessions that will affirm and promote best practices in the program.

Staff Participants

Hiring new after school staff member who are fully prepared is rare to find. The reasons are most newly hired staff just graduated from college and are completely new to the field; another reason is the hired staff is experienced in a traditional recreational program and/or in an education set-up and is immersed in a school culture that is totally different from an after school culture. The staff participant surveys are designed to articulate the core knowledge and skills needed by the staffs in after school programs and how these may be acquired and updated, and how staffs perceive professionalism.

Study Implementation Procedures

Project management

Before starting the evaluation formally, the following tasks are needed; 1) A meeting between the evaluators and LAs BEST management will have to be set-up to communicate and explicate the evaluation proposal; to reach an agreement on the scope of work to be done, timelines and deliverables;

and to assimilate what other issues or concerns the management would want to include that is congruent to the evaluation, 2) the evaluation team must make themselves familiar with the program by making ocular visitation of the sites, interviewing managers/supervisors and staffs and take note of proposed modifications in the evaluation design to assimilate these individuals issues or concerns that is congruent to the evaluation. These proposed modifications will have to be communicated and explicated to LAs BEST management and upon their approval will be incorporated to the evaluation design prior to launch.

Site recruitment

This proposal aims to make an exhaustive evaluation of all elementary schools across the City of Los Angeles that are included in the LAs BEST program, which are 147 sites as stated in LAs BEST literature. (Overview.2.doc, n.d.)

Data collection and data entry

The data collection tools that will be used in this evaluation are; 1) existing data or statistics from record files of LAs BEST that would yield demographic information as well as other personal data of the participants, 2) direct observation of participants during surveys and actual on site visitation, 3) survey questionnaires, and 4) informal interview.

All surveys are structured to provide information on two major areas: how the managers/supervisors view the staffs; and how the staffs view themselves with regards to, 1) the knowledge and skills needed by after school staffs; and 2) the degree of professionalism of after school staffs. All data collected will be documented.

Data analysis and reporting

Collected data will be analyzed through calculating percentages and descriptive statistics. After data has been analyzed and interpreted, an evaluation report will be prepared comprising of; 1) an executive summary, 2) an introduction which describes the program, its components, the target population, and the goals and objectives of the program,

3) a methodology which describes how the program was actually implemented as well as how the data was collected, what instruments were used to collect the data and how the data was analyzed, 4) the results section of the data analysis containing concrete data, 5) a discussion section explaining how the data was interpreted, provides answers to evaluation questions, 6) discloses any problems or issues encountered in the evaluation, 7) suggestions on what could be done in the future to improve other similar evaluations, and 8) a recommendations section where recommendations are made based on findings.

Study Timeline

The overall project management timeline of the evaluation proposal is presented in the table below (see Table 1). The appropriate timelines for each task within each evaluation phase is also specified. Our goal is to begin the evaluation in May 2007 and conclude with the final reporting in October 2008.

Table 1: Project Management Timeline

EvaluationPeriod
PhaseTask
Phase 1

(Pre-Test)
Meeting between evaluators and

LAs BEST Management
May 2007 to July 2007
Increase familiarity with sitesMay 2007 to July 2007
Deliberation and approval of modificationsMay 2007 to July 2007
Phase 2

(Test 1)
Site recruitment (147 sites)August 2007
Literature ReviewAugust 2007 to October 2007
Informal interview of participantsAugust 2007 to October 2007
Observational researchAugust 2007 to October 2007
Phase 3

(Test 2)
Survey Questionnaire Managers/SupervisorsSeptember 2007
Survey Questionnaire StaffsOctober 2007 to December 2007
Phase 4

Data Collection/Data Entry/Data AnalysisMay 2007 to March 2008
ReportingJanuary 2008 to April 2008
Phase 5Presentation of Final Report to LAs BEST ManagementMay 2008

References

Factsataglance.2.doc. (2007). LAs BEST. Retrieved April 26, 2007. From http://www.lasbest.org/resourcecenter/index.php

Huang, D., Gribbons, B., Kim, K., Lee, C. & Baker, E. (2000). A Decade of Results: The Impact of the LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program on Subsequent Student Achievement and Performance. UCLA Center for the Study of Evaluation. Retrieved April 26, 2007 from http://www.lasbest.org/resourcecenter/ucla.php

Mahoney, J. & Zigler, E. (2006). Translating science to policy under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Lessons from the national evaluation of the 21st-Century Community Learning Centers. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 27, 282–294

Overview.2.doc. (n.d.). LAs BEST. Retrieved April 26, 2007. From http://www.lasbest.org/resourcecenter/index.php

Riggs, N. & Greenberg, M. (2004). After-School Youth Development Programs: A Developmental-Ecological Model of Current Research. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 7, (3) September 2004.

Scott-Little, C., Hamann, M. & Jurs, S. (2002). Evaluations of After-School Programs: A Meta-Evaluation of Methodologies and Narrative Synthesis of Findings. American Journal of Evaluation 23; 387. Retrieved April 25, 2007 from http://aje.sagepub.com

The Law (2006) Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE) The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. US Department of Education. Retrieved May 3, 2007 from http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/pg55.html

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