April - May 2002
Part III. Technical Assistance
|[SEAS can] demonstrate that "we're all in this together" by extending technical assistance to LEAs and schools beyond the application process.|
During this presentation on the CSR program guidance, the CSR staff reviewed the requirements for providing technical assistance as they apply to SEAs. The CSR staff encouraged SEAs to demonstrate that "we're all in this together" by extending technical assistance to LEAs and schools beyond the application process. SEAs should consider ways to provide post-award assistance to support grantees in specific aspects of planning, implementing, sustaining, and monitoring the progress of their CSR programs. (See H-1 through H-6.)
The CSR legislation is also designed to increase the technical assistance support that schools receive from their LEAs. Because SEAs must now give priority to schools that are both in need of improvement or corrective action and that have the commitment of their LEA to support them, state coordinators were encouraged to take steps to ensure that LEAs do in fact deliver on this commitment and provide substantive support. Though LEAs cannot fill the role of required external technical assistance provider to their CSR schools, it is still very important for them that local know-how and expertise be made available. This support can include guidance, assistance in aligning district-based professional development with school reform initiatives, help with budgeting and resource reallocation, or waivers of nonessential LEA requirements.
Symposium participants were asked to meet in small groups to discuss issues of technical assistance. Facilitators from the CSR office and NCCSR used the following questions to guide table discussions:
1) What types of technical assistance requests have you received in the last year?
2) What is your vision for technical assistance in your state (consider the SEA, LEA, external technical assistance providers, and the support model developers provide to schools); and
3) What do you need to enable you to provide the best technical assistance possible?
In the discussions, participants shared information about how SEAs are obtaining assurances from external technical assistance providers. While some SEAs are asking providers to sign a statement of assurance, others are asking for the financial statements, such as tax statements or annual board reports, to assure fiscal viability. In the latter case, however, the SEA is finding that many providers do not want to make this information public.
Participants also explained that the technical support they are offering schools ranges from pre-application assistance to working with evaluators over the long term. Others outlined needs assessment and support processes, including consolidated site visits for all Title I programs. Some admitted they were struggling with the issue of sustainability in schools and would appreciate help in building capacity in this area. These discussions made it clear that CSR program staff, State and District officials, and a range of intermediary organizations face a challenge in providing more comprehensive and complex forms of technical assistance to help practitioners become critical consumers-and successful implementers of-effective comprehensive school reform programs. All participants left with a greater awareness of the types of, and tools for, the technical assistance they must provide to facilitate this process at each level and to help schools and districts sustain reforms once CSR grants become expire.
Following these discussions, staff from the CSR program and NCCSR made brief presentations on the technical assistance services and resources offered by their respective offices. The main points of these presentations can be found in Appendix A.