Developing Effective Community Serving Programs

 

DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE COMMUNITY SERVICE PROGRAMS
Joe Tierney
tierneyj@sas.upenn.edu
215 746 0220
Spring 2009
Thursday 1:30 -4:30 
Leadership Hall Conference Room, 3814 Walnut Street, 2nd Floor

DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE COMMUNITY SERVING PROGRAMS

     What constitutes an effective community service program?  Which programs work?  Which programs don’t work?  Is it possible to answer the effectiveness question?   Does cost matter?  How are these questions integrated into a larger policy discussion?  Politicians, advocates and concerned citizens often clamor for solutions to “problems.”  Calling attention to a problem, whether it’s improving the life prospects of a low income child in the United States or saving a child in a developing country from disease, is the first and easiest step in solving the problem.  The policy world is filled with advocates but short on effective programs.

     This course will examine the effectiveness question primarily through cases studies of four different types of community serving programs--alternative teacher certification programs (e.g. Teach for America, NYC Teaching Fellows, ACE), structured mentoring programs (e.g., Big Brothers Big Sisters), pregnancy prevention programs for students in public schools, and malaria prevention and treatment in Africa. 

     Students will develop an understanding of 1) the key policy questions involved 2) the operational models and theory of change of the leading programs in each substantive area 3) the implementation plan for each program and 4) the research related to the effectiveness of each program.      

     Students will have an opportunity to publish the op-eds that they write (See below) and all four final task group papers will be published on the Fox web site.

     Alternative Teacher Certification (ATC) programs. The number and size of alternative teacher certification programs has boomed recently with significant efforts launched by Notre Dame University (ACE), NYC Teaching Fellows and Teach For America.  TFA, in particular, has become a highly desired job for graduating college seniors.  Do we need ATC programs?  Are there programmatic differences among them?  Are they all effective?  Are any effective?  What constitutes effectiveness? 

     Pregnancy prevention programs for students in public schools.   A 2003 report from the congressional committee of California Congressman Waxman found that “over 80% of the abstinence-only curricula….contain false, misleading, or distorted information about
reproductive health.”  A campaign advertisement by Senator McCain says that Senator Obama wants students in kindergarten learning about sex before learning to read.   What is going on here? Is “abstinence plus” sex education more effective than abstinence education?  Do advocates on either side want to know the answer to that question?  What outcomes are we trying to prevent? Is it appropriate for politics to play a role in answering this question?  Do personal morals matter?  Should morals matter?  Do public school School Boards debate this matter and issue a formal policy? Should schools implement programs with no known effectiveness because they satisfy “decision makers” personal belief systems?  Are there any effective pregnancy prevention programs? 

     Malaria prevention in sub-Saharan Africa.  According to the Center for Disease Control,   malaria kills over 1,000,000 people a year most of them children in sub-Saharan Africa.  How does malaria infect a person?  Do we know how to prevent infection?  Do we know how to treat the disease?  What non governmental organizations are treating the disease?  Are governments involved?  Is this a solvable problem?

     Mentoring programs.  The notion of placing an unrelated adult in the life of a young person is as old as ancient Greek mythology.  Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) is the longest continually operating mentoring program in the nation’s history.  What is the Big Brothers Big Sisters model?  Is there research that has proved its effectiveness?  How does mentoring work?  How are programmatically created   relationships formed in the context of a mentoring program?  Is every service program that places an adult in a child’s life a mentoring program?  The course will examine the BB BSA model and related research in detail.  Students will also identify competing mentoring programs with a special emphasis on identifying ones that are better or more cost effective.

Major Assignments and Task Groups

     The class will be divided into four 3-person tasks groups with each group having a primary substantive area.  Students are expected to be conversant in all 4 substantive areas with an extensive knowledge of their primary area.

     Every student will write two (2) 750 word Op-eds on two different substantive areas.  Students may not write an op-ed on a substantive area related to their task group. The op-eds may focus on any aspect of the substantive area, and like all good op-eds, must take a firm position on an important issue associated with the topic.  The students are encouraged to submit the op-eds for publication.  Students will receive a “to be determined by the instructor” bonus if their op-ed is published.    

     Each task group will write a 30-40 page final paper for their primary area that 1) discusses the key policy questions involved 2) synthesizes the existing programmatic literature 3) synthesizes the existing evaluation research on the effectiveness of existing models 4) describes what, if anything, Penn is doing in this area and 5) presents a specific work plan for moving forward.  The work plan should present a strategy for moving forward for Penn, non governmental organizations (including faith-based organizations),   governmental and/or quasi-governmental organizations.  In addition, your work plan need not recommend a significant expansion in this programmatic area.  For example, you may conclude that sex education is not a responsibility of the schools or that alternative teacher certification programs should be replaced by more traditional efforts.  Your work group is free to develop whatever game plan it sees fit; however, you must base those recommendations on a thoughtful review of the literature.  The four reports will be posted on the Fox web site. 

     Task Group presentations are an essential component of the course.  I expect the task groups to be organized and prepared for their presentations. In order to facilitate quality presentations, the task groups are required to meet with me one week prior to their presentation in Weeks 3 through 6.  These 15 minute meetings will take place at the conclusion of class.  Special arrangements will be made for task groups whose members have class immediately following our seminar.  The schedule for these meetings is:

    January 22 ATC Task Group         4:50 – 5:05
    January 29 Mentoring Task Group    4:50 – 5:05  
    February 5 AA+ Task Group         4:50 – 5:05
    February 12 Malaria Task Group    4:50 – 5:05

     Participation in class discussions is an essential component of the course.  In addition to performing at an “A” level on the other assignments, only students who actively participate in class discussions will earn an “A.”  

     It’s my hope that the op-eds and papers that the students produce will make an important contribution to the study, analysis and possible development of programs in these substantive areas.

Attendance

     Attendance is required.  Students must inform me in advance if they are unable to attend one of the seminars. 

Supplemental Reading Assignments

     In addition to the assigned weekly readings described below, additional readings will be distributed by the task groups and me throughout the course of the semester.  For the final paper, students are expected to supplement the required readings with material that they identify. 

Office Hours

     Office hours are 10:30 - 12:00 on Thursday.  In addition, I encourage you to schedule a meeting or simply drop by my office in Leadership Hall. 

 
Grading

Final Paper                          80 points
Task Group Presentations     50   points
Class participation               30   points
1st  Op-Ed                          20   points
 2nd Op-Ed                         20   points

WEEKLY SCHEDULE

Week 1 (January 15) Course Introduction

What is community service?
What do we need?
What is your experience with community service?
Did you have a mandatory service requirement in high school?
Why are college students interested in Teach for America?
Have you ever had a mentor?
Is President Obama really interested in teaching 2nd graders about sex before he teaches them to read?
Do we have a moral obligation to save 1 million children each year from dying from malaria? 
Review Syllabus

Week 2 (January 22) How do you know if a community service program is making a difference in someone’s life?  What is the nonprofit sector?

Introduce data collection
Introduce program evaluation
What’s the counter factual?
How do you measure success of a program?
Measures of organizational effectiveness
How big is the non profit sector?
National youth serving non profit organizations
Develop semi-structured guide for interviews with aspiring teachers and teachers already in the classroom.

Reading Assignments:

  • Swamp Nurse (A vs. A+)
  • Boyle(Mentoring)  

 
Week 3 (January 29) “Alternative Teacher Certification (ATC) Programs”

Through a combination of presentations and leading the class discussion, the ATC task group will address, at a minimum, the following areas in class today:

Do we need ATC programs?  Why or why not?
Why are college students interested in these programs?
Describe the Teach for America (TFA) program model
Describe the ACE program model
Describe the New York City Teaching Fellows Program Model
Description of the aforementioned program models will include, at a minimum:

  • Organizational structure
  • Basics of the program model (e.g. pay and length of service, type and location of placements etc.)
  • Recruitment strategy
  • Training program prior to a corpsmember’s start of teaching
  • Training and support provided after a corpsmember starts in the classroom.
  • Additional items that the task group deems appropriate 

 
Discussion: Compare and contrast the three approaches to “alternative” teacher certification programs

ATC task group:  Interview two members of NYC Teaching Fellows, two ACE corpsmembers and 2 TFA corpsmembers (one 1st year and one 2nd year).

All Task groups.  Interview one current Penn student who has been accepted to TFA and one 1st year TFA corpsmember.

Reading Assignment:  
•    Azima, Why Teach for America?   
•    Ingersoll, Holes in the Teacher Supply Bucket.     
•    Camphire, Are Our Teachers Good Enough?

Week 4 (February 5) Mentoring Programs

Through a combination of presentations and leading the class discussion, the mentoring task group will address, at a minimum, the following areas in class today:

What is mentoring?
How do relationships form in the context of a mentoring relationship?
Describe the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization including:

  • National structure
  • Local organization structure
  • Describe recruitment strategy
  • Describe volunteer screening process
  • Describe matching process
  • Describe post-match support provided to Bigs and Littles
  • Describe community based matches and any unique features not described above
  • Describe school-based matches and any unique features not described above.

Find another mentoring organization and address all the aforementioned points in your discussion of their organization.

ALL TG:  Interview two staff associated with a BB BS program.

Reading Assignment: 

Boyle, Patrick.  The Study that Ignited (or Diluted) Mentoring
Furano et al., Big Brothers Big Sisters: A Study of Program Practices Pages: 1-53
Morrow and Styles, Building Relationships with Youth in a Programmatic Setting
Tierney and Branch, College Students as Mentors for At-risk Youth: A Study of Six Campus Partners in Learning Programs.  Pages i – v.

Week 5 (February 12) Abstinence vs. Abstinence +

Through a combination of presentations and leading the class discussion, the AA+ task group will address, at a minimum, the following areas in class today:

Why are schools talking about sex?
What outcomes are you trying to prevent? 
Detailed description of an abstinence only curriculum
Detailed description of an abstinence plus curriculum
Who decides what gets taught?
Who should decide?
Whose values matter more?

AA+ Task group.  Report on 1) your interview with an educator who uses an abstinence only curriculum 2) your interview with an educator who uses an abstinence plus curriculum.

All Task Groups:  Pick one of your public school districts and tell us how the district   teaches sex education to middle school students.  How did the school district arrive at their plan.

Reading assignment:

A series of essays from the Heritage Foundation and Planned Parenthood  regarding the Abstinence vs. Abstinence Plus Debate.  Distribute two weeks prior to class

The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs.    A Report prepared for Representative Henry A. Waxman.

Week 6 (February 19) Why does malaria kill 1,000,000 children per year?

Through a combination of presentations and leading the class discussion, the malaria task group will address, at a minimum, the following areas in class today:
What is the disease process?
How do you prevent it?
How do you treat it?
Where is the disease most prevalent?
What other preventable diseases are killing children?
Who should address these problems?
What US government programs exist to fight the disease?
Who are the most active non governmental organizations?
Are religious organizations involved in preventing and treating the disease?
Describe in detail the efforts of 1 government program, 1 secular non government program, and 1 program sponsored  by a religious organization.
 
Reading Assignment:    Finkel, Michael.  Bedlam in the Blood: Malaria.  National Geographic July 2007 pages 32-67.
Additional readings provided by malaria task group one week in advance

Week 7 (February 26) Do mentoring programs and ATC programs make a difference? 

The ATC and Mentoring Task groups will summarize the effectiveness literature for their respective areas.  In your presentation, make sure to tell us why they are effective.

Reading Assignment:

  • Darling-Hammond et al. Does Teacher Preparation Matter?  Evidence about Teacher Certification, Teach for America, and Teacher Effectiveness.
  • Boyd, How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement
  • Decker et al, The Effects of Teach for America on Students:   Findings from a National Evaluation
  • Xu, Zeyu, Jane Hannaway and Colin Taylor.  Making a Difference?: The Effects of Teach for America in High School.  The Urban Institute and the National Center for Analysis or Longitudinal Data in Educational Research.
  • Johnson, Birkland and Peske.  A Difficult Balance: Incentives and Quality Control in Alternative Certification Programs.
  • Tierney, Joseph P. and Jean Baldwin Grossman, with  Nancy L. Resch, Making A Difference:  An Impact Study of Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
  • Herrera, Carla, Jean Baldwin Grossman, Tina J. Kauh, Amy F. Feldman and Jennifer McMaken with Linda Z. Jucovy.  Making a Difference in Schools: The Big Brothers Big Sisters School-Based Mentoring Impact Study. 

Class Discussion:  Now that we know what’s effective, what are we going to do about it?

Week 8 (March 5)   Do Abstinence, Abstinence+, and malaria treatment and prevention programs make a difference?

The AA+ and Mentoring task groups will summarize the effectiveness literature for their respective areas.

Class Discussion:  Now that we know what’s effective, what are we going to do about it?

Reading assignments:  Provided by the AA+ and malaria task groups at least one week in advance.

March 12 Enjoy Spring Break!

Week 9 (March 19) Discussion of Student Op-Eds

Students should submit their two op-eds to the class via e-mail by 9:00 Am Wednesday, March 18.  Students should read each op-ed and be prepared to discuss them during class.  Students may not write an op-ed about their substantive area. 

Week 10 (March 26)  What is Penn doing in each of the substantive areas? When is a Program Ready for Replication?

Each task group will make a presentation regarding what work, if any, that Penn is doing
in each of these substantive areas.  Provide as many details as possible regarding Penn’s
efforts.

I’ll lead a discussion regarding program replication with a specific focus on “essential elements” of a program.

Reading Assignment:  Summerville, Copy That: Guidelines for Replicating Programs to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Week 11 (April 2) One hour team group meetings with me to discuss final paper.
       
TG 1 12:30 - 1:30 (with lunch)
TG 2  1:30 – 2:30
TG 3  2:30 – 3:30
TG 4  3:30 – 4:30

Week 12 (April 9)    Real world problem-solving with case studies from 1) Girls, Inc and 2) Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Week 13 (April 16) 
   Two task groups present their final paper.
 
Week 14 (April 23)     Two task groups present their final paper.

April 29 Final Paper due by 5:00 PM

READING LIST

Alternative Teacher Certification Programs

Azima, Negar.  Why Teach for America?  New York Times, September 30, 2007. 

Boyd, Donald, Pamela Grossman, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb and James Wyckoff, 2006.  How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement.  American Education Finance Association pp. 176 – 216.

Camphire, Geoff.  Are our Teachers Good Enough? Reprinted from SEDL Letter Volume XIII, Number 2:  Teachers They Matter Most.

Darling-Hammond, Linda, Deborah Holtzman, Su Jin Gatlin and Julian Vasquez Helig.  Does Teacher Preparation Matter?  Evidence about Teacher Certification, Teach for America, and Teacher Effectiveness. 

Decker Paul T., Daniel P. Mayer and Steven Glazerman 2004.  The Effects of Teach for America on Students:   Findings from a National Evaluation.  Mathematica Policy Research, Princeton, N.J.

Ingersoll, Richard.  Holes in the Teacher Supply Bucket.  The School Administrator.  March 2002   

Johnson, Birkland, Peske.  A Difficult Balance: Incentives and Quality Control in Alternative Certification Programs, in Project on the Next Generation of Teachers. pp. 107 -120

Xu, Zeyu, Jane Hannaway and Colin Taylor.  Making a Difference?: The Effects of Teach for America in High School.  The Urban Institute and the National Center for Analysis or Longitudinal Data in Educational Research.

MENTORING

Boyle, Patrick.  The Study that Ignited (or Diluted) Mentoring.  Youth Today, December 2006.

Furano, Kathryn, Phoebe A. Roaf, Melanie B. Styles and Alvia Y. Branch.  Big Brothers/Big Sisters: A Study of Program Practices.  Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures. January 1993.

Goode, W. Wilson Sr. and Thomas J. Smith.  Building from the Ground Up:  Creating Effective Programs to Mentor Children of Prisoners – The Amachi Model.  Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures, July 2005.

Herrera, Carla,  Jean Baldwin Grossman, Tina J. Kauh, Amy F. Feldman and Jennifer McMaken with Linda Z. Jucovy  Making a Difference in Schools: The Big Brothers Big Sisters School-Based Mentoring Impact Study.  Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures, August 2007.

Morrow, Kristine V. and Melanie B. Styles, Building Relationships with Youth in Program Settings: A Study of Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures, May 1995.

Roaf, Phoebe A. , Joseph P. Tierney and Danista E.I. Hunte. Big Brothers/Big Sisters: A Study of Volunteer Recruitment and Screening.  Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures, October 1994.

Sipe, Cynthia L. and Anne E. Roder.   Mentoring School-Age Children: A Classification of Programs.  Philadelphia, Public/Private Ventures.  March 1999.

Tierney, Joseph P. and Jean Baldwin Grossman, with  Nancy L. Resch, Making A Difference:  An Impact Study of Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  Philadelphia:  Public/Private Ventures, November 1995.

Tierney, Joseph P and Alvia Branch.   College Students as Mentors for At-Risk Youth: A Study of Six Campus Partners in Learning Programs.  Philadelphia: Pubic/Private Ventures.  December 1992.

Walker, Gary. Mentoring, Policy and Politics.  Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.  October 2007.

Abstinence vs Abstinence+

A series of essays from the Heritage Foundation and Planned Parenthood  regarding the Abstinence vs. Abstinence Plus Debate.

Swamp Nurse.  New Yorker.  February 6, 2006

Summerville, Geri.  Copy That: Guidelines for Replicating Programs to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.  Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures, January 2006.

The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs.  United States House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform-Minority Staff, Special Investigative Division, December 2004.  A Report prepared for Representative Henry A. Waxman.
 
Malaria

Finkel, Michael.  Bedlam in the Blood: Malaria.  National Geographic July 2007 pages 32-67.

Additional readings provided by malaria task group

General

Jucovy, Linda.  Reaping the Benefits of Evaluation:  Self Assessment in the Service Field.  Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures, December, 2000.

Silverman, Rachel Emma and Sally Beatty.  Save the Children: But Pay the Bills Too   Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2006.