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Connecting providers and schools
In addition to cultivating relationships between themselves and providers, districts should facilitate productive communication between providers and the schools of the students they serve.
Educating school staff about SES and providers. It is critical that school staff—especially principals, teachers, and SES coordinators—are well informed about SES in general terms, about how the SES process works, and the potential benefits it can provide to students and schools. It is equally important that school staff be knowledgeable about the programs of individual providers serving the district. Below are some ways that districts can educate school staff about SES.
Professional development opportunities. Districts should consider providing principals and teachers with regular professional development opportunities at which the SES provisions of No Child Left Behind are discussed. Districts could provide such opportunities during inservice days or other district functions. In discussing SES, districts could include information as to which schools (and potentially which students) in the district are SES-eligible.
Provider forums. Districts should also consider arranging forums for providers to present and explain their programs to principals, teachers, and other school staff. Some districts have held provider fairs for principals and teachers at which school staff talk individually with provider representatives at their discretion. Districts have also coordinated individual provider-school meetings for a similar purpose. Pursuing either of these options may depend on the number of providers serving the district and the preferences of schools.
Provider forums such as these can also be a useful means for providers to recruit teachers as tutors.
Educating providers about schools. Just as school staff need to be educated about SES, so too do providers often need to learn more about aspects of school culture and operation, and districts should consider giving providers opportunities to learn more about the schools of the students they intend to serve. Districts could help accomplish this by adding another dimension to the provider forums discussed above, through which principals could present to an audience of providers.
Connecting SES with the classroom. While it is the responsibility of the state to approve providers whose programs are aligned with state standards and consistent with curricula used at the local level, district and school officials may nevertheless have concerns about the relationship between what is happening in SES programs and what is happening in the classroom during the regular school day. To ensure that classroom instruction can help inform SES, and vice versa, it is imperative that districts not only provide opportunities for providers and school staff to get to know one another, but also facilitate regular, ongoing communication between providers and classroom teachers throughout the provision of services. To this end, districts could arrange for providers and classroom teachers to exchange contact information (e-mail addresses, phone numbers, etc.), and could also use school-based coordinators as conduits of information between providers and teachers.
At a minimum, districts should ensure that teachers have access to SES student progress reports.
Leveraging student learning plans. Connections between SES and the regular school day can be further enhanced by involving classroom teachers in the development of student learning plans. The level of involvement of teachers in this process could vary, ranging from an advisory role to more direct responsibilities for developing, alone or in conjunction with providers, individual student achievement goals based, in part, on perceived student weaknesses and knowledge of state standards.
For more information about developing student learning plans effectively, see p. 34.