Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Should before- and after-school programs be responsible for raising test scores?

At tonight’s meeting, the board will get an update on the district’s contract negotiations with the providers of our before- and after-school programs (BASPs). Two of the proposed changes to the contracts have prompted some discussion.

First, the district is asking the BASPs to commit to furthering the district’s goals of raising math and reading proficiency rates and “creating culturally inclusive and responsive school environments and classroom instruction, with a focus on equitable outcomes for students in protected classes.” (See also the BASP Q&A here.)

It is not clear to me exactly what changes the district is expecting from the BASPs to help raise reading and math proficiency rates. It’s my understanding that the BASPs currently give the kids a number of activity choices, including reading or homework time, but that they don’t engage in actual instruction per se. The children are already spending seven hours of the day in school; when the district added a half hour to their school day two years ago, we heard ongoing concerns about the long day that we were imposing on young kids. Recess and lunch time during the school day is minimal. I’m not at all persuaded that “more is always better” when it comes to instructional time. (See this post from years ago.) Especially given the lack of concrete details about what this new clause will require, I don’t blame people for being concerned about it.

Second, the district is asking the BASPs to commit to holding a certain number of spots open at each site to serve students experiencing homelessness or other emergency situations. This seems like a worthy goal, but it does impose a cost on the BASPs (who may have to turn away families on their waiting lists to leave those spaces open), which could affect their staffing and programming. I don’t have an immediate opinion on what is reasonable to expect from the BASPs here, but I’d like to hear the pros and cons.

The Q&A gives the impression that the district is playing hardball with the BASPs. It goes out of its way to state that BASPs that don’t like the proposed terms may end up getting charged for the use of the school buildings or even replaced with different providers. Maybe the district can offer a persuasive rationale for this approach, but it does come as a bit of a surprise, given that the BASPs are non-profit organizations, often run by parent boards, which in many cases have longstanding relationships with the district and with district parents.


Meanwhile, in related news, President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which funds before- and after-school and summer programs, on the grounds that “The programs lacks [sic] strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement.” In my view, providing child care to working parents who need it is a perfectly good objective in and of itself, regardless of whether it raises anyone’s test scores. (See Freddie deBoer’s post here for an extended version of that argument.)


Anonymous said...

Kids should be snacking, resting, playing and having fun after school.

Back off making BASP academic. Let the kids relax.

The BASP programs are not there to win awards for adults, they are for the kids.

mariaconz said...

Reading to very young children would be helpful if that's what they want after school. However, if they're ready for unstructured play time after school, they should get as much physical activity as possible.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more! @12:27

Mandy said...

so, they want non licensed teachers responsible for this education?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Chris!!!!!!

Tony said...

I don't know much about the BASP programs, but from what I have seen they are very different from school to school in how they operate. I don't agree with adding required education goals to the program and I am not sure how that would work, but I definitely think that it needs to be more standardized and accessible. Will those individuals currently working in the BASP programs be qualified to act as teachers and how much would it cost to provide qualified educators. I know at our school there is a long waiting list to even get in the program. I think if they are going to offer a BASP program that it should be able to support everyone that would like to participate. I am having a difficult time finding information on the BASP programs at each school, they are all different and have different costs and requirements. Does anyone have information or a link for statistics and demographics for the BASP programs? Do low-SES families get first priority and free and/or reduced access to the BASP programs and if so how is it funded? Are some of the BASP programs for profit and if so how much do they make? Who determines how a school BASP program is run, for example the cost, how many students it serves, staff, etc? Is there a cost to the school district to operate these BASP programs at our schools and outside our schools? Why aren't these more standardized in how they are run?

Anonymous said...

I send my child to BASP to PLAY and be a kid and make friends and learn about getting along with others. I would be very upset if he was expected to do curriculum after the long days, nor do I expect the people working there to be responsible for this aspect of his care.

Anonymous said...

Why does our administration expect the BASPs to formally educate kids? The reason our test scores are so poor for so many of our students is not because of what the BASPs do or don't do. It's because our administration has so little expertise in actually teaching.

David Schwartz said...

Our kids have been in ICCSD BASPs for five years and will be there for another five. I can say with confidence that BASP is a place to play, not enhance test scores. This is a misguided and unnecessary discussion.

Amy Charles said...

This was the W-era attack on Head Start: they wanted to see testable, measurable progress, generally as an excuse for shutting down Head Start. It's not actually about educational benefit for children. It's about a doctrine that says women should not be working for pay and being independent in the first place; women should be at home taking care of kids and having more of them. It's also about greed. If you don't pay the BASP bills, you get to keep the money for something nice, like tax cuts, or gold toilets, or expensive staffer lunches, or what have you.

They honestly don't care about the test scores. Even if a BASP happened to meet them, they'd just move goalposts till they couldn't.