Monday, August 24, 2015

How to Prove Your Homework Help Program is a Success

Implementing a homework help program is a lot of work and if you want to continue to run such a program after the first year, you’ll want to be able to show administrators that it was a success.  In Part One of this series, I explained how to set up a before-school homework help program and in Part Two, I offered ten suggestions for making sure the program ran smoothly.  In this third and last post, I am going to share some ideas for how you can demonstrate your program was successful.
The direction of success; source: Pixabay
 I wrote a report at the end of every year I implemented my program and emailed it to my associate principal in my school and to the ESL director of the district.  Using data will support your claim of success and that’s where the sign-in sheet comes in.  I broke down that information and wrote how many student visits there were total and also how many students in each grade participated.  I also listed all the reasons students came.  Lastly, I compared the most recent program with the prior year’s program to show that there was growth and a continued need for a before-school homework help program.  Below are excerpts from the report I wrote about the final year that I implemented the program:

          From the start of the program in the second week of school to the last 
          day today, there were 795 visits by students.

          Nineteen students participated in the program over the course of the 
          year:  Five students were fifth graders, one was a sixth grader, nine 
          were in seventh grade, and four were in eighth grade.  All but one were 
          ELLs  ...  Many students attended every day or almost every day, a couple 
          only came once, and some students cam on an irregular basis.

          The reasons for attending varied but most often it was to get help with 
          homework assignments that students either did not understand or because 
          they needed more time to complete assignments.  Students also used the time 
          to study for tests, to do research on the computers in my room, to print out 
          work (because they didn't have one at home), to do independent reading, to 
          play educational games on a computer (such as CoolMath), or to check in 
          with me on how things were going.
          At the end of the first year of the program in the 2010 - 2011 school year, 
          there were 483 visits by students.  Even taking into account that the program 
          that year did not begin until October, the fact that four years later there 795 
          visits, almost double the amount of students who participated this year, shows 
          there is a definite need for a program like  this for ELLs and even other students.  

Here are a couple other things you can do to can help prove the necessity of a homework help program for ELLs:
* Have students who attended regularly fill out a short evaluation form.  Collate and analyze the results and use a few of their quotations in your year-end report.  I didn’t ask students to complete a formal evaluation form but from my year-long observation of those who participated daily or almost every day, I could see improvement, mostly in the form of increased self-confidence and also in the quality of their writing.  Here's a freebie sample that I just created:
The ESL Connection Blog Post on August 24, 2015
Click HERE to download this freebie; source: The ESL Nexus
* Ask teachers of the students who regularly attended if they noticed an improvement in their ELLs' work.  It would probably be a good idea to let the teachers know early in the year that you’ll be asking them later on about this.  You could give them a written form to fill out but with all the paperwork teachers already have to do, a quick email asking for their opinions might generate a better response.  You could also include a few quotes from teachers in your final report, if applicable.  Teachers during the course of the year would tell me, in emails or in conversation, that they appreciated the program and that they thought it was helpful to the ELLs they had in their classes.  (But don’t forget to ask both the students and the teachers for permission before you use anything they said or wrote.)

At the end of my report, I thanked the associate principal for allowing me to implement the program.  In my reports from earlier years, I also said that I hoped I would be able to run the program the following year since there was clearly a need for it.  If I had remained in that school district, I would definitely have continued to implement the program.

I hope these blog posts have given you lots of ideas on how to run your own before-school homework help program.  If you are already implementing a program like this or now decide to start one, please share your experiences in the Comments section below.  Good luck!