Archive for November, 2006

Need for Science in Afterschool !

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006


 Does your afterschool program have a science club ?   Perfect way to give youth the opportunity to explore the scientific world!



Nov. 15th, 2006

Simple Science Difficult for Urban Students to Grasp, NAEP Study Finds
By Sean Cavanagh

Elementary students in 10 city school systems struggled to perform simple investigations, interpret basic graphs and diagrams, and understand scientific classifications and relationships, concludes a first-ever report on the science skills of students in large urban districts released today.

Urban students at the middle school level also lagged behind their peers nationwide in their ability to perform relatively straightforward scientific tasks, according to the study, based on the results of a special sampling of the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Urban students at the middle school level also lagged behind their peers nationwide in their ability to perform relatively straightforward scientific tasks, according to the study, based on the results of a special sampling of the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Science Sense

Students in large urban districts don’t stack up to their peers nationwide on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in science.

The Trial Urban District Assessment shows that students in all 10 districts participating in the study scored below nationwide averages in both the 4th and 8th grades. The average national 4th grade score, for example, was 149, on a 300-point scale. Scores among the 10 districts reached only as high as 147, notched by the Austin, Texas, school system, with the Chicago and Los Angeles districts each scoring the lowest, with 126.

Broad variation occurred at the 8th grade level as well, though scores were low overall. Austin again achieved the top score, or 144 on the 300-point scale, and Atlanta the lowest, 117. All 10 districts, however, fell short of the nationwide student average mark of 147.

Michael Casserly, the executive officer of the Council of the Great City Schools, which helped arrange urban districts’ participation in the science NAEP, cautioned that those school systems faced numerous disadvantages in trying to raise test scores, such as poverty and having to serve a large number of English-language learners. He also noted that states test students on different topics, at different grade levels, than the science NAEP.

But Mr. Casserly also used the scores as a platform to advocate for the creation of national standards in science, which he also supports in reading and math.

“The nation cannot possibly think that it can raise its science performance and remain preeminent scientifically, with each state setting its own standards, its own definitions of proficiency, and its own measurement criteria,” Mr. Casserly said at a Washington news conference announcing the NAEP results. “It is the height of national folly to think that America can maintain any competitive edge in science the way we are now testing and teaching it.”

The scores of the students from the 10 urban districts were comparable with those of students from large-city school systems as a whole, the assessment found. Seven of the 10 participating districts performed at or near the same level as 4th graders in city systems nationally, according to the study. At the 8th grade level, six of the 10 urban districts at least equaled the science performance of the nation’s big-city systems, which were defined in the report as having populations of 250,000 or more.

NAEP, often called “the nation’s report card,” measures the academic progress of students at the 4th, 8th, and 12th grade levels and in the core subject areas; scores are also broken out by racial and ethnic categories. All states, by federal law, are required to take part in NAEP in 4th and 8th grade reading and mathematics. The assessment is widely regarded as a valuable resource for researchers and policymakers because it offers a consistent way of judging the progress of students in different demographic categories across states.

The 10 participating districts in the urban science study were Atlanta; Austin; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Cleveland; Houston: Los Angeles; New York City; and San Diego. All did so voluntarily. Between 1,000 and 2,000 students in each district took the science assessment at each grade.

Those same 10 districts, in addition to the District of Columbia, took part in a similar NAEP study of reading and math performance, released in December 2005. It showed that urban 4th and 8th graders were making headway in reading and math, but that most districts still lagged behind national averages in those subjects. As was the case with the science scores this year, the Charlotte and Austin districts fared well in reading and math on the NAEP urban study last year. (“‘Basic’ Level Tough Going for Urban Pupils,” Dec. 7, 2005.)
‘Interpret With Caution’

The 4th and 8th grade NAEP covered a range of topics in the earth, physical, and life sciences. The test breaks out student scores in three different categories of achievement: “basic,” “proficient,” and “advanced.” A student scoring at or above the basic level in 4th grade, for instance, should have some of the knowledge and reasoning necessary to understand earth, physical, and life sciences at that grade level, the authors say. Those students should be able to carry out investigations on a basic level, interpret fairly simple graphs, and have a beginning understanding of energy, as well as scientific classifications and relationships, the report says. All the participating districts had lower percentages of 4th graders performing at the basic and proficient levels than the national average.

The latest NAEP results emerge as education officials, from school districts to the federal government, search for strategies to improve student performance in science and math. Worries about low student skills were reinforced last year when NAEP scores revealed that science achievement for students nationwide had essentially stagnated among 8th and 12th graders over the past five years, and had increased only slightly among 4th graders. Those improvements were limited mostly to students scoring at the lower levels of achievement. (“NAEP Scores Show Few Budding Scientists,” June 7, 2006.)

A report released in September by the National Research Council bemoaned the lack of student progress in science, despite at least 15 years of changes to standards, curriculum, and testing in that subject. The study concluded that U.S. schools, in contrast to those in higher-performing countries, pack their science lessons and curricula with far too many disconnected topics, leaving students confused about which ideas are most important, and with only a weak grasp of overriding principles. Schools, it recommended, should instead focus on developing students’ mastery of a smaller, core group of scientific topics, and gradually build a sophisticated understanding from that point.

Today, “topics receive repeated, shallow coverage, with little consistency,” the NRC report said, “which provides a fragile foundation for future knowledge growth.”

David W. Gordon, the superintendent of the Sacramento County, Calif., school system, said support for national standards has grown as business leaders and others have become increasingly worried about students lack of ability in math and science. National standards could be made more palatable if they were put forward as “benchmarks” or goals, for states and districts to meet, rather than as mandates crafted by the federal government, he said. Mr. Gordon is a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the NAEP.

“There’s a growing sense that science is science, and math is math,” no matter where it is taught, Mr. Gordon said. “It really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to shoot for different standards across states and districts.”

In the NAEP urban-science study, scores may have been influenced by districts’ policies toward excluding students with disabilities and English-language learners from taking the tests and allowing test-takers special accommodations during the exams. The number of excluded students, and those allowed accommodations, varied greatly from district to district, the NAEP report reveals.

The Austin district, for instance, which had the highest 4th grade scores, excluded 9 percent of all the students tested at that grade level either because they were in special education or English-language learners. By comparison, the second-highest-scoring district at the 4th grade level, Charlotte, excluded only 3 percent of those students. The nation-wide average exclusion rate was 3 percent.

“Comparisons of achievement results across districts should be interpreted with caution if the exclusion rates vary widely,” the NAEP science study notes.

Similarly, the Houston school system, whose 4th grade scores tied for the 3rd-highest of the 10 urban districts, gave 19 percent of its test-takers special accommodations on the science NAEP. Atlanta, which scored lower than Houston at that grade level, gave far fewer students, only 5 percent, accommodations during the science exam. Nationwide, an average of 10 percent of students received accommodations. A typical accommodation is extra time to take the test.

New GRANT $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

The Create Your Legacy

Grant program is open to after-school programs with current 501(c)(3) non-profit status. Eligible after-school programs should offer youth services that emphasize leadership training, mentoring, community service, academic enrichment, or the arts. Schools, for-profit organizations, churches or other religious organizations are not eligible unless the grant submission is specifically for a program offered to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis and without regard to religious affiliation.
Programs and organizations may submit a Create Your Legacy application for facility improvements or neighborhood projects already in progress. However, the participating youth must clearly explain how the Create Your Legacy grant will be used to further these efforts and must clearly demonstrate how the existing project or improvement will benefit their after-school program and their community.
Non-profit youth organizations previously awarded a Create Your Legacy Grant are not eligible to submit a Create Your Legacy grant application for a period of 12 months from the date of the original grant. However, non-profit youth organizations with multiple sites may submit a Create Your Legacy grant application provided the grant application is for a program site that has not received a Create Your Legacy Grant in the previous year.

Deadline:  January 15, 2007



Preparing Highly-Skilled Staff in Multiple Settings

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006


Preparing Highly-Skilled Staff in Multiple Settings

 Please help us collect information.  We hope you will take time (about 10-15 minutes) to complete the survey on surveymonkey.  If you have your own membership/affiliates/network – please share with others. Go to:

Deadline: December 4, 2006

 The National Collaboration for Youth and Search Institute are exploring whether and how youth workers in different settings might learn from and with each other about how to prepare staff to work effectively with young people. Results from this survey will be combined with other information to highlight the opportunities and challenges in building bridges between youth workers in local youth organizations and faith-based youth workers. This project is supported by the Lilly Endowment.

Your responses to this survey are anonymous. Your responses will not be linked back to you, but will be combined with other responses to find patterns.

 Thanks for your anticipated response! 

Pam Garza, Director

National Youth Development Learning Network

National Collaboration for Youth/

National Human Services Assembly

1319 F Street, Suite 402

Washington, D.C. 20004

(202) 347-2080 Ext. 15


Monday, November 20th, 2006

November 18th, 2006



Dear Program Coordinator:

It is our pleasure to announce the KIDS FINANCIAL $ENSE: A Financial Literacy Symposium, to be held on Tuesday,  January 16, 2007.  On behalf of the American Business Collaborative and its funding companies (IBM, AT&T, Dow Jones, Exxon Mobil, J&J, Merck, and Novartis) for this project, the New Jersey School-Age Care Coalition (NJSACC), the New Jersey Department of Education, and the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education, we cordially invite your afterschool program to participate in this financial education project.

The cost of attendance at this event is only $25 for each participant and includes a continental breakfast and box lunch.  Participation will also constitute 5 ½ hours of New Jersey Department of Education professional development hours and meet the requirements of the NJ Office of Licensing. To register, click on links below or go to

We hope that you will join us and help give school children the tools they will need to grasp the basics of spending and saving money.  If you have any questions, please contact Brooke Stolting of the New Jersey Department of Education at 609-777-0313, or Diane Genco of NJSACC at 908-789-0259.  We thank you and look forward to seeing you in January!

KIDS FINANCIAL $ENSE: A Financial Literacy Symposium
January 16, 2007
Rutgers University, Busch Campus Center
Piscataway, NJ


9:25- 9:30 A.M.    Welcome
     New Jersey 
     Diane Genco
     Executive DirectorSchool-Age Care Coalition (NJSACC)

9:30- 10:15 A.M.   Financial Literacy: Real World Thinking!
     Mary Grogan Strain
     Senior Director of Business Development
     Classroom, Inc.

10:15- 11:00 A.M.   Children’s literature Lessons: How to use children’s literature to teach personal finance
     Andrew Hill
     Economic Education Advisor         Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

11:00- 11:15 A.M.   Guest Speaker
     Lucille E. Davy
     New Jersey Department of Education

11:15- 12:00 P.M.   JA It’s My Business!™
     Catherine Milone-Richards & Michael Troutman
     Junior Achievement of NJ
     Participants: Communities in Schools of Camden

1:00- 1:15 P.M.    American Business Collaboration Presentation
     Debbie Phillips
     Vice President 

1:15 – 2:15 P.M.   20 Creative Ways to Teach Personal Finance and Workplace Readiness
     Barbara O’Neill
     Professor and Extension Financial Management Specialist
     Rutgers Cooperative Extension

2:15- 2:30P.M.    Closing Remarks
     Maryanne D. Evanko
     NJ Coalition for Financial Education

FAX TO: 908.789.4237 no later than January 1, 2007
(A form is needed for each person registering – Duplicate as needed)
Name: __________________________________________________________________
Address: ________________________________________________________________
City: _______________________ State: _________________ ZIP: ________________
Day Phone: __________________
Email contact: ______________________________

Afterschool Program: __________________________
School:  _____________________________________
Agency: _____________________________________
Cost: $25 per person includes Continental breakfast and materials
Make checks payable to NJSACC.
PO’s and Credit Cards accepted.
 Amount enclosed:  ________________
Check Number__________   or Purchase Order Number____________
Credit Card #_____________________________________________
Visa___  MasterCard___ Expiration Date____________
Name on Card____________________________________________
Zip Code for Credit Card Billing Address_______________
Mail payment and registration form to:
231 North Avenue West   #363
Westfield, NJ  07090
Registrations may be faxed to 908-789-4237.
All Registrations must be received by January 1th, 2007.
Payment and or PO must be mailed to the address above and received by date of training.
Additional information:
Please give an estimate of the number of families served who work for:
___IBM ___J&J ___Merck   ___AT&T ___Dow Jones ___Exxon Mobile ___ Novartis

Number of youth served: _______________________




Reminder How to View Afterschool FLASH

Monday, November 20th, 2006


Afterschool FLASH

 Reminder, the Afterschool FLASH has a new format. You will receive a partial posting , should you be interested in reading the entire posting click on the link in the post .

If the link does not work in your system, you can always go to see all of the FLASHES  on the Afterschool FLASH page on the web site.

Go to and click on Afterschool FLASH in left hand bar. This will take you to  NJSACC web site page for Afterschool FLASH

On this page the entire current posting is displayed.   Former postings are  also displayed, they are search-able by date and category.  

Take a moment now to go to the web site and click on Afterschool FLASH !