READER’S VIEW CALDWELL SCHOOLS
Education collaborative moves progress past ‘theory’
Wouldn’t it be great if theoretical solutions always turned into verifiable progress?
In the case of the P16 Caldwell Education Project, anecdotal success is now accompanied by strong data that tells a story of exciting change — something we can build on for years to come.
P16 is an evidence-based, multifaceted program to prepare Caldwell School District students for postsecondary education and provide guidance toward a meaningful career.
It was a Treasure Valley Education Partnership report that revealed opportunities for improvement in our district. For instance, the report found that only 23 percent of Caldwell School District students were going on to education after high school — a number that P16 aims to at least double in the next three years.
United Way assembled the Caldwell School District, Treasure Valley YMCA and Lee Pesky Learning Center — with vital input from groups including the city of Caldwell and the College of Idaho — to construct a program that shepherds children from preschool all the way through postsecondary education.
I am grateful that the district leaders who preceded me made a commitment to not just improve test scores and graduation rates, but to empower students to reach their careers of choice.
The district saw the value in cohesively working with groups that already had proved effectiveness in their areas along the education continuum. It made a lot of sense to align the best available resources — framed by a shared community vision — to address some of the most dire local education issues.
The J.A and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, the Whittenberger Foundation and United Way recognized P16’s importance and financially supported the undertaking. In a short amount of time, a potentially lives-changing project had become not merely theoretical but operational. The components include:
Æ Preschool Program: So far more than 150 children served at Lincoln and Wilson elementary schools.
Æ Out of School Learning Program: Available after school and during breaks, service days and the summer at Washington and Lewis and Clark elementary schools. Also, school-age coordinators have provided more than 650 hours of school-day support.
Æ Career Aspirations Program: A CAP liaison at each of the 11 schools in the district leads postsecondary education discussions and related activities. Examples include higher education campus field trips, parent events/information nights and one-on-one career planning.
After an emotionally charged preschool graduation and P16 celebration this spring — including first-annual United Way college scholarship presentations — recently we were shown compelling first-year data. The themes include:
Æ The average reading score of last year’s preschoolers currently attending kindergarten nearly doubled.
Æ One hundred percent of educators who had children from the Out of School Program in their classes said the project positively impacted their classrooms.
Æ Student and parent involvement at informational events about postsecondary education increased by 581 percent from 2010-11.
With these sensational first-year results now available, we're seeing palpable proof that this collaborative yielded major progress throughout the continuum. You can review the full report at unitedwaytv.org.
By continuing to engage and mobilize nonprofits and businesses, we’re poised for additional growth. For year two, the number of groups funding the project has more than doubled. After recognizing P16’s success, Crookham Co., the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation, Republic Services and U.S. Bank committed to help P16 not just continue, but continue to thrive.
Those of us involved in P16 are encouraged to have data that reasserts what we already believed. Collaboration is affecting real change in Treasure Valley education — and it will for years to come.
Tim Rosandick is superintendent of the Caldwell School District.