It seems these days that if you’re keeping up with what’s happening in education, you can’t help but hear about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Last week, our vice president for policy and research, Jen Rinehart, wrote a stellar blog that not only walks you through what the Common Core State Standards are, but explains why they were developed, what they mean for education policy and the valuable role the afterschool field can play to support learning under the Common Core.
To keep up the Afterschool Alliance’s drumbeat of providing the afterschool field with helpful information connecting afterschool and the Common Core, I tuned in to “Leveraging Expanded Learning Opportunities to Support Common Core Implementation,” a webinar hosted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and America’s Promise Alliance. The webinar featured Jenell Holsted, Ph.D. of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, who discussed a recent brief, “Making the Connection: Next Generation Learning and Expanded Learning Opportunities,” and Sarah Cruz, director of expanded learning opportunities at the Statewide Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities (NJSACC), who shared information about New Jersey’s statewide pilot training program that helps providers align their programming with the Common Core State Standards.
By Jen Rinehart
While volunteering in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom recently, I noticed a stack of kindergarten math workbooks that proudly advertised, “Aligned with the Common Core State Standards.” It was a clear sign that the Common Core standards have arrived in classrooms across the country and a reminder to me that the Afterschool Alliance can help afterschool providers better understand Common Core and what roles afterschool stakeholders can play in supporting learning under the Common Core.
So what are the Common Core State Standards? They are a set of standards in reading/language arts and math that resulted from several years of collective thinking by teachers, researchers and leading experts in the education field about what students should know and be able to do in mathematics and English language arts. Prior to the Common Core, most states had their own individual sets of standards.
Why do the Common Core State Standards exist? Proponents of Common Core argue that with the adoption of the standards, students who move from state to state, and especially students in military families who might make multiple moves in a K-12 career, will have a smoother transition because the schools in each state will be working from the same set of high expectations about what kids in each grade should be able to do. They also point out that states can share instructional resources like textbooks and even assessments, which are currently under development and expected to be rolled out during the 2013-2014 school year. As you might imagine, there are alsoeducation leaders who question the value of Common Core, particularly since the Common Core were not pilot tested prior to roll out to nearly all states, and who view Common Core and the related assessments as costly (both for the country and our children’s futures) experiments in learning.
- The Safeway Foundation is partnering with Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland to develop community- and clinic-based programs designed to reduce the burden of childhood obesity. The program seeks to fund nonprofit organizations with innovative programs to address childhood obesity. The goals of the program are to empower innovative programs to expand and enhance services, increase capacity, and/or incorporate new strategies to support healthy body weights among children and/or adolescents; evaluate the impact of existing programs; and identify promising approaches that could be replicated, adapted, and implemented in diverse communities nationwide. Applicants must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, or have a fiscal sponsor that is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The applicant does not have to be affiliated with a healthcare facility or clinic. Applicants must be based within 10 miles of a Safeway store (with some flexibility for regions with low-density stores). Proposed programs must use an inter-disciplinary model that includes at least one partnership with a community, clinic, business, and/or school. Initially, the Safeway Foundation is committing $2 million to support about 15 one-year awards. The amounts awarded may range from $3,000 to a maximum of $100,000 depending on the specific needs of the project. The majority of awards will be within the range of $40,000 to $75,000. The complete Request for Proposals and the online application form are available at the Safeway Foundation website. Applications are due May 15, 2013.
- Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) recently extended the deadline to May 3, 2013, for their School Grants for Healthy Kids for the 2013-2014 school year. Around 400 schools will be awarded funds that will range from $1,000 to $5,000 with significant in-kind contributions from AFHK in the form of people, programs, and school breakfast and physical activity expertise. AFHK will also provide schools with management expertise and support to develop strong alternative and universal breakfast or physical activity programs. Award amounts will be based on building enrollment, project type, potential impact, and a school's ability to mobilize parents and students around school wellness initiatives. Grants are available in select states. Note only schools are eligible to apply. The Physical Activity grants provide funding for facilities and equipment for recess, playgrounds/play-spaces, classroom energizers, physical education, intramural and/or before- and afterschool programs that introduce underserved youth populations to the value of an active lifestyle. Learn more through Action For Healthy Kids.
Earlier this month, Champions® and the National AfterSchool Association released their second annual “Out-of-School Time Survey.” The survey found an overwhelming majority of elementary and middle school superintendents believe in the academic, social and behavioral benefits afterschool programs provide to their students. In addition to viewing afterschool programs as an environment where children can improve their core academic skills—such as reading, math and science—96 percent of superintendents agree that the most important afterschool programs improve study skills and more than 9 in 10 superintendents surveyed agree that the most important afterschool programs increase students’ social interactions and engagement (92 percent). More than 4 in 5 superintendents say that the most important afterschool programs are those that offer activities not present during the traditional school day (82 percent).
A key take away from this survey is that school superintendents understand the true value of afterschool programs and recognize that schools and students benefit from support of afterschool programs. Schools aren’t alone in the charge to ensure that all students receive a quality and well-rounded education. Afterschool programs are able and willing partners to prepare students for success in school, career and life.
The president recently released his budget request for FY2014 and we wrote about the implications for afterschool in a recent blog post. The budget proposes a sweeping (and unprecedented) reorganization of federal STEM education investments—it consolidates or restructures 114 programs out of the existing 226 federal STEM programs. In the budget proposal, 78 programs are terminated and the funds from these programs ($176 million dollars) are redirected to other agencies, 49 programs are consolidated within agencies and 13 new programs have been proposed.
The $176 million from the eliminated programs would be split as follows:
- $100.3 million to the Department of Education for K-12 education programs
- $51.1 million to the National Science Foundation for undergraduate education and fellowship programs
- $25 million to the Smithsonian Institution for a new STEM engagement initiative
There are several places to get the full details of the president’s budget request for STEM education—the White House R&D budget site and the American Institute of Physics FYI analysis are good places to start.
Ed. note: This post was originally published by SparkAction. Read the original post here.
Juvenile justice professionals take note: a new resource launches this week that will make it easier—and more engaging—than ever to get in-depth journalism stories together with key research, data, guides and tool kits on critical issues in the juvenile justice field.
The Juvenile Justice Resource Hub, launching April 24, 2013, provides visitors an accessible, user-friendly point of entry to a repository of years of research into juvenile justice issues—with particular focus on the best practices and lessons from the MacArthur Foundation-funded Models for Change initiative which examines systems change approaches to make juvenile justice more fair, effective, rational and developmentally-appropriate.
The Hub is a project of the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE.org), published by the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University.
By Jodi Grant
This week I was in Kansas City as a keynote speaker for the 2013 Best Practices Forum on Dropout Prevention, hosted by the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network. I was thrilled to be a part of the event and share with the audience the many ways the afterschool field is helping our students come to school, stay in school and graduate. Afterschool programs are an instrumental part of any effort to help our students not only graduate from high school, but prepare them for lifelong success and help shape the adult he or she will become.
This is why I am so pleased with the newly released video (below) and guidebook by America’s Promise Alliance, “Expanding Learning, Expanding Opportunities.” Both the video and accompanying guidebook highlights the many ways expanded learning opportunities—including afterschool programs, summer learning programs, and expanded learning time—are providing our kids with opportunities to express themselves creatively, explore their interests and gain hands-on learning experiences they might not have during the school day. Also included are a variety of resources, such as research, best practices and toolkits to assist those interested in learning more about the out-of-school hours.