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B U I L D I N G

B R I G H T

F U T U R E S

Community Action Plan

Creating Educational Excellence and Equity

SEPTEMBER 2008

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2008 COMMUNITY ACTION PLAN

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Community Action Plan B U I L D I N G

B R I G H T

F U T U R E S

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Mr. Richard Holland, Chairman; Mr. Michael Yanney, President; Ms. Susie Buffett; Mayor Mike Fahey; Ms. Andy Holland; Mrs. Dianne Lozier; Mr. Wally Weitz; Mrs. Barbara Weitz; Mrs. Katie Weitz-White, Secretary; Mr. John Cavanaugh, Executive Director and Vice-president.

TASK FORCES Making the Most of Early Childhood • Chair: Jessie Rasmussen, Vice-president of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. • Vice-chair: Dr. Thomas Tonniges, Medical Director of the Boys Town National Research Hospital’s Institute for Child Health Improvement. Providing Academic Support and Career Awareness • Chair: Dr. John Christensen, Chancellor University of Nebraska – Omaha. • Vice-chair: Ben Gray, Newsman and Community Leader. After-School Mentoring and Tutoring for Excellence • Chair: Mike Fahey, Mayor of Omaha. • Vice-chair: Rebecca Valdez, Executive Director, Latino Center of the Midlands. Reducing Truancy and Recovering Lost Youth • Chair: Dr. Jerry Bartee, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services at Omaha Public Schools. • Vice-chair: Kim Hawekotte, Deputy Douglas County Attorney. Addressing Adolescent Behavioral Health • Chair: Dr. Rubens Pamies, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of Nebraska Medical Center. • Vice-chair: Dr. Richard O’Brien, Professor at Creighton University’s Center for Health Policy and Ethics.

SEPTEMBER 2008

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Overview

Contents Overview

2

Parents and students living in Nebraska’s two most populous counties have much to be proud of – yet nearly as much to be concerned about – when it comes to public education. Each year there are 10,000 live births in Douglas and Sarpy Counties, which comprise the greater

The Report

5

Omaha Metropolitan area. Theoretically each of those babies faces “a bright future,” but the reality is that 3,500 of them are born into poverty.

1. Building Bright Futures

5

When it comes to early learning, preschool, kindergarten and K-through-12 experience, poverty presents parents, students and schools with huge obstacles and challenges. Poverty impedes chances for early childhood development, readiness for education, acquisition of basic skills – such as math

2. Ready For Learning

10

and reading – and too often it kills promising young people as well. Building Bright Futures is a community-wide initiative built on the recognition by some of Nebras-

3. Ready For Life 4. Ready For Work

32 48

ka’s most committed residents that meeting all of the challenges to academic excellence is essential to our community’s future success. This community recognizes that: • Poverty brings a lack of opportunity that leads to lack of wholesome family experiences and such vagaries as limited exposure to proper language and similar growth-encouraging experiences in the

5. Footnotes

59

home. • A child in poverty doesn’t receive good health care, nutrition, emotional support

How Bright Futures Grow Dim Educational Path for All Students in Douglas-Sarpy Counties 10,000

or adult role-modeling. 6,500

• Poverty all but guarantees

6,000

a child will fall behind and will be unprepared, even at

3,840

ages 1 to 3, for “normal” ac-

2,188

quisition of knowledge and, thus, for school. • Sophisticated studies spon-

Births

sored by Building Bright Fu-

Prepared for Kindegarten

High School Graduates

Enter College

College Graduates

tures demonstrate the dramatic downward spiral of academic performance that begins when children fall behind in their earliest years. Most of the 6,500 babies born each year into families living above the poverty line will arrive at school ready to learn and have a positive educational experience through 12th grade. Most will graduate from high school, and many of those will go to college. Those in poverty, who start behind the curve, most often remain that way. They don’t catch up. Their chances die somewhere on the educational vine. The numbers are sobering. Of the 3,500 born into poverty, few will reach preschool or kindergarten prepared to learn. By elementary school, academic failure is a strong possibility. About onethird of them will not be able to read or do math at grade level by mid-elementary school. By 9th

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2008 COMMUNITY ACTION PLAN

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grade, failure is almost assured. Nearly half of this group will drop out. Only a small percentage will graduate from high school and a few hundred – of the 3,500 – will go on to college. The numbers are even more strik-

African American Students 1,131

ing among ethnic minority groups. Afri-

Projection Based on Current Trends

can-American students, with 77 percent now living in poverty, will see 1,131 enter kindergarten each year, but only 99 of those will graduate from college. The drop

588

is even sharper among African-American 329

males. Among Latino students, about 1,045

99

will enter kindergarten and about 76 of Kindergarten High School Graduates

Enter College

College Graduates

students will experience greater academic failure in this group as well.

Latino Students 1,045

those will graduate from college. Male

Building Bright Futures proposes an

Projection Based on Current Trends

all-encompassing approach of systematic interventions across the entire educational experience in order to deal with aca491

demic failure. Providing an early childhood development opportunity for the young-

255

est children of poverty is an essential first

76

step. So is providing after-school programs, Kindergarten High School Graduates

Enter College

College Graduates

plus tutoring and mentoring for older

terventions at each turn of

students. But the problems already are resident in every age group from birth to 18 and in every grade. So a birth-through-12th-grade solution is an absolute necessity. And support for low-income students who want to go on to college is just Bright futures that have grown can be brightened again because Percent

at each turn of the educational spec-

academic performance can

.2%

81

75

there is a flipside to the story. As surely as 3 precedes 4, interventions

sults. The downward trend in

85

dim due to poverty and its vagaries

65

be turned.

7%

77.

N African American N Hispanic American N Total All Groups

the educational spectrum can and will produce positive re-

2002-2007 Students (OPS) Eligible for Free/Reduced-Priced Lunch

as critical.

As surely as 3 precedes 4, in-

%

60.1

55

trum can and will produce positive results. The downward trend in aca-

45

‘02

‘03

demic performance can be turned by:

‘05 ‘04 School Year

‘06

‘07

• Significantly expanding high-quality early childhood education programs to ensure that children in poverty arrive at kindergarten on par with other students. • Ensuring via a comprehensive program of academic support that nothing is missed throughout the entire academic experience, including reading and math proficiency.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

How Dim Futures Grow Bright

• Expanding after-school tutoring and mentoring to

Educational Path for All Students in Douglas-Sarpy Counties (After Building Bright Futures intervention)

serve all students in need of extra help in elementary and

10,000

10,000

high schools.

9.500

• Guaranteeing that the phy6,500

sical, behavioral and emo-

N Before BBF Intervention N After BBF Intervention 7,125

6,000

tional health needs of all

5,343 3,840

children are delivered.

2,188

• Dealing with barriers to educational success, such as

Births

truancy, fairly and firmly, and

Prepared for Kindegarten

High School Graduates

Enter College

College Graduates

virtually eliminating the probStudents in Poverty After Building Bright Futures Intervention (Opportunity raises the bar for children in poverty)

lem of absenteeism. • Making sure that all low-in-

3,500

come high school graduates

3,500

3,325

have access to financial sup-

N Before BBF Intervention N After BBF Intervention 2,494

port to enter and succeed in

1,871

1,750

post-secondary education.

1,120

This Community Action Plan

500

is the result of communitywide engagement with parents,

Born into Poverty

Kindergarten High School (Prepared) Graduates

Enter College

336 College Graduates

teachers, students, school administrators and community leaders working to identify needs, best practices and consensus. 635,000 – Two-county Population 120,000 – Two-county Student Population

NEBRASKA

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1. Building Bright Futures BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES is a comprehensive initiative that will provide all Omaha area youth with high-quality education, care and support so they can learn, prepare for work and build productive lives. Building Bright Futures (BBF) is a comprehensive initiative to provide all of Douglas and Sarpy Counties’ young people with access to high-quality education.

Origin of Building Bright Futures:

A Desire to Help Omaha’s Youth Reach Their Potential Building Bright Futures began in 2006, when a group of business, civic and political leaders came together to assess

We confront two great challenges: • Creating a community of economic and educational equity. • Preparing young people for the increasingly competitive global economy.

the status of our youth and ask whether young people were receiving the support and services they needed. Leading

Building on our community’s many strengths, we will provide a community catalyst for comprehen-

this effort at the outset were Omaha

sive change. Starting at birth and continuing through 12th grade, Building Bright Futures is directed

Mayor Mike Fahey and a group of com-

at bringing all elements of the metropolitan community together.

mitted citizens, including Richard Hol-

The Omaha metropolitan area enjoys a vibrant economy with many attractive jobs. We are home

land, Michael Yanney, Susie Buffett, Mary

to one of the nation’s leading early childhood education programs; excellent schools are found across

Ann “Andy” Holland, Wally and Barbara

Douglas and Sarpy Counties; and we have strong universities, vocational training providers and research

Weitz and Dianne Lozier.

centers. We are blessed with a rich cultural, religious and civic life. Most important, the Omaha com-

Goals of Building Bright Futures

munity has already demonstrated its commitment to our youth through early childhood education,

1. Improve academic achievement.

numerous mentoring, after-school and other sup-

2. Increase the number of students who graduate

port programs. Every day, more than 33,000 young

from high school prepared for work or post-

people attend after-school programs, either at

secondary education.

their school or at more than 75 service agencies.

3. Provide post-secondary educational oppor-

But the benefits of these efforts do not extend

tunities to every economically disadvantaged

to all Omaha youth. As is the case in most cities,

high school graduate in the two-county area.

there are gaps in school readiness, educational

4. Increase civic participation and community responsibility.

achievement, and employment among low-income and minority youth and their more-affluent peers. Building Bright Futures is dedicated to clos-

ing these gaps. We will promote equity in services and resources so that all youth will have the opportunity to succeed, and we will pursue excellence for all children and youth so everyone will improve.

WE FACE A FORMIDABLE – but surmountable – challenge in keeping all our children and youth on track to academic and career success. The greater Omaha area, encompassing Douglas and Sarpy Counties, is a large and diverse community. We have a population of more than 600,000 people, 172,000 youth under age 18, and 120,000 students in 11 local school districts and many private schools. More than a third of all students are in the Omaha Public Schools (OPS), the area’s largest district. OPS also has the highest concentration of poor students, about 75 percent of the total in Douglas and Sarpy Counties.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Douglas and Sarpy Counties at a Glance (2006-2007) Douglas County Sarpy County Total

Total Population 492,003 142,637 634,640

Children under Age 18 131,365 40,509 171,874

K-12 Students 97,613 23,070 120,683

Low-income Children 52,007 8,422 60,829

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts, 2006 (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/31/31055.html); J. M. Johnston, Kids Count in Nebraska (Omaha, NE: Voices for Children, 2007); Archdiocese of Omaha, Catholic Schools Office; Nebraska Department of Education, 2006-2007 State of the Schools Report (http://reportcard.nde.state.ne.us/Main/Home.aspx).

In Douglas and Sarpy Counties, about 15,000 children in low-income families under age 5 do not receive high-quality

Most of our young people are progressing through school well and becoming productive members of our community. But many others face obstacles in their lives. As the first step, BBF asked how many young people need extra support – and at what points in their development they need it.a The results were sobering: Too many Omaha-area youth are at risk of failure. At every point in the pipeline – at every stage of the developmental continuum from birth through young adulthood – unacceptable numbers of children and youth are “leaking” out of the system. And these failures are cumulative – students who do not succeed in one stage of life are at higher risk of failure in the next stage.

early care and education.

Scope of the Challenge

We estimate that about 3,500 of these children are not well prepared for school.

Birth/Early Learning

School Readiness

Elementary School

Middle School

High School

Post Secondary

15,000 children under age 5 without highquality early child care and education

3,500 children not ready for school

1,083 4th graders struggle with reading

817 8th graders struggle with math

1,200 9th graders fail to advance

1,273 students dropped out in 2006-2007

In Douglas and Sarpy Counties, about 15,000 children in low-income families under age 5 do not receive high-quality early care and education. About 3,500 of these children are not prepared for school. Students who enter school unprepared are more likely to fall behind – by the fourth grade, more than 1,000 students in the two-county area have not yet mastered basic reading skills. Young students who do not read well face challenges across the curriculum, especially as they move up grade levels. In middle school, for example, we still have more than 800 students struggling in math. Students who struggle as they leave middle school are at risk of failure in high school, and students who fail courses in the ninth grade are off track for graduation. In OPS alone, more than a quarter of students are off track by the end of ninth grade, increasing the likelihood that they will drop out of high school. Indeed, 1,273 students in the two-county area dropped out of school in 2006-2007. 1

THESE CHALLENGES AFFECT OUR COMMUNITY, so we asked the community to help. a

A preliminary inventory of community resources and needs, Investing in Omaha’s Children and Youth: A Master Plan (SRI International, April 2007), can be accessed at http//:buildingbrightfutures.net.

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TASK FORCE Input To overcome these challenges, a collaborative working relationship has been established with the Sherwood Foundation and we enlisted the help of our citizens. A cross-section of community members was convened and five task forces were formed, each of which identified a set of recommendations to address the varied needs of our young people: Making the Most of Early Childhood to ensure that all low-income children receive high-quality early care and education so they are prepared for school. Providing Academic Support and Career Awareness to help all students graduate from the K-12 system ready to pursue a career or advanced education. After-school Mentoring and Tutoring for Excellence to ensure that all vulnerable youth receive highquality academic support and services, including access to a tutor, mentor or professional advisor. Reducing Truancy and Recovering Lost Youth to minimize absences and keep youth in school, and to redirect youth offenders back into school. Addressing Youth Behavioral Health by providing access to health and better mental health and substance abuse support services, to youth and their families, including early identification and proper referral, crisis intervention and support. An additional group was formed to devise a strategy for providing Omaha’s graduating seniors with the resources they need to continue their education after high school at technical and professional

Community meetings (photos above) were held throughout the two-county area.

schools, colleges and universities.

COMMUNITY Outreach To deepen community involvement, 15 community forums were organized that were attended by more than 1,200 persons from December 2007 through April 2008. These forums were held in a variety of neighborhoods throughout Douglas and Sarpy Counties, and many of them included a light meal and child care to encourage working parents to attend. Community members told us their concerns and rated the importance of issues facing our region and young people. These efforts resulted in the identification of a broad community-wide consensus on critical needs and recommendations and identification of particular needs of local communities. All of these are incorporated in this community action plan.

BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES has developed an action plan that aims to meet our challenges and prepare our youth for success. The task force and community recommendations converged into three broad areas: • Ready for Learning – recommendations that support a life-long process of social-emotional and cognitive development. • Ready for Life – recommendations that address physical, social-emotional, civic and cultural development from birth through adolescence. • Ready for Work – recommendations that support career development and offer multiple pathways to post-secondary success. Together, the recommendations in these areas constitute the action plan for Building Bright Futures. By addressing the developmental needs of infants, children and youth, this action plan will enable us to meet our goals.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Summary – Task Force Recommendations Ready For Learning (Page 10)

Ready For Life (Page 32)

• •

• •

Ready For Work (Page 48)

Scope of the Challenge in Douglas and Sarpy Counties 14,561 low-income children under age 5 are not served by state and federally funded early care and education (ECE) programs. Public school students below proficiency : – 4th grade: 1,083 in reading, 782 in math. – 8th grade: 860 in reading, 834 in math. – 11th grade: 1,051 in reading, 976 in math. An average of 6,582 public school students absent each day. 4,561 dropped out from 2003 to 2006. 17,187 children lack health insurance; 82,000 lack a regular health care provider. 21,000 children and adolescents need, but do not receive, intervention or treatment services. 8,000 vulnerable youth need mentors. 39,144 youth are unsupervised after school.

• 1,500 OPS 10th-graders need help making post-high school plans. • 12,182 young adults ages 18-24 have not completed high school. • 19,024 high school graduates ages 1824 have no post-secondary education.

Building Bright Futures Action Plan 1. Increase low-income families’ access to high-quality, comprehensive ECE programs. 2. Ensure teacher quality, strong curricula and early removal of impediments to academic achievement. 3. Provide more time and opportunities for learning. 4. Improve school attendance. 5. Support students through critical academic transitions. 6. Develop immediate programs for credit rescue and recovery.

7. Increase access to health care coverage. 8. Support healthy development through developmental screening and prevention. 9. Increase access to behavioral health services in schools and communities for all children from infancy through age 18. 10. Equip families to support healthy child development. 11. Promote more mentoring relationships. 12. Expand enrollment in after-school programs. 13. Emphasize early career awareness and career planning. 14. Strengthen career and technical education and work opportunities. 15. Develop programs to bridge the transition from high school to postsecondary education and training.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2006 American Community Survey (http://www.census.gov/acs/www/); Nebraska Department of Education, 2006-2007 State of the Schools Report (http://reportcard.nde.state.ne.us/Main/Home.aspx); Nebraska Department of Education, Nebraska Head Start Programs (http://www.nde.state.ne.us/ech/HeadStart/nestats.html); Nebraska National Survey of Children’s Health, 2005 Parent Report Survey (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/about/major/slaits/nsch.htm); Department of Health and Human Services. Mental health: A report of the Surgeon General. (Rockville, MD: DHHS, 1999) (http://www.surgeongeneral. gov/library/mentalhealth/home.html); J. M. Johnston, Kids Count in Nebraska (Omaha, NE: Voices for Children, 2007); Deichert, J., Rolf, K. & Smith, R.L. 2006 Omaha youth afterschool needs assessment.(Omaha, NE: University of Nebraska at Omaha, 2007); Omaha Public Schools Office of Research.

PUTTING OUR PLANS IN PLACE will require an unprecedented, comprehensive initiative that involves the entire community. We have made enormous progress since 2006. Thousands of Omaha-area residents responded to our call for thoughtful insight into how best to support our young people. This effort has resulted in

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15 comprehensive recommendations designed to ensure that all our children and youth are ready for learning, ready for life and ready for work. Our movement forward calls for even greater effort, requiring continuous community support and necessitating high levels of cooperation between the public and private sectors. Now is the time for action. Our immediate next steps will be to: • Develop a 5-year program and financial model, including a detailed timeline for rolling out the specific recommendations and identifying funding needs for each program area. • Begin funding process at local, state and national levels, including identifying specific funding sources for individual initiatives. • Create a data tracking and performance measurement system to monitor our progress. We will develop and implement a data tracking system across agencies and organizations (e.g., schools, after-school providers and the juvenile justice system). We will use the system to assess our progress against pre-established benchmarks for success (e.g., 95 percent attendance rate). Building Bright Futures is committed to this action plan because we are committed to seeing all our youth realize their full potential and enjoy productive lives. With Omaha’s many strengths, we are confident of success.

Guiding Principles of Building Bright Futures 1. Involve families and communities in meaningful ways.

• Develop a 5-year program and financial model. • Begin funding process at local, state and national levels. • Create a data tracking and performance measurement system.

2. Develop culturally responsive programs that build on the strengths of youth, families and communities. 3. Focus on quality so every program is of the highest caliber. 4. Provide professional development so that professionals working with children – teachers, counselors, mentors and others – receive the training and support they need to be successful. 5. Emphasize early identification of developmental or academic delays or difficulties so children can benefit from effective early intervention. 6. Connect every child in the two-county area with a highly trained, caring and competent professional (e.g., academic counselor or social worker) who provides advice, support and referrals to services as needed. 7. Create a robust infrastructure that emphasizes sharing information across programs to ensure coordinated services for children and youth.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

2. Ready For Learning BEING READY FOR LEARNING means achieving school readiness in early childhood, developing positive attitudes and engagement with schooling, and making steady progress in gaining new knowledge and skills. People can and should learn at every stage of their lives. Being ready to learn at any age requires age-

The keys to school success and life-long learn-

appropriate cognitive and social-emotional development.2 The time from birth through preschool is critical for brain development. At this stage of life, brain development is directly related to the nutritional, medical, emotional and intellectual support that the child receives from parents, extended

ing include the following:

family and community.3 Once they enter elementary school, students need sustained support and en-

• School readiness.

motivation to achieve academically.4 Mastery of basic skills in reading and mathematics in the early

• School engagement. • Academic development.

couragement from parents and other adults to maintain a positive attachment to school and a strong elementary grades is the foundation for later academic and life success.5 As students progress to high school, they continue to need support from parents and a positive attachment to school, rigorous and relevant curriculum and instruction delivered by caring and competent teachers, and strong motivation to learn and achieve. 6 The keys to school success and life-long learning include the following: • School readiness. Infants, toddlers and preschool children need the care, experiences and learning environments necessary for healthy physical, social, emotional, language, literacy and cognitive development. • School engagement. To be fully engaged in school learning, children need to develop positive attitudes and feelings of safety and comfort in the school environment, as well as motivation to learn and achieve academically. • Academic development. Success in school and life-long learning requires mastery of foundation skills (especially reading and mathematics), steady growth and development in knowledge and in the organization of knowledge, and development of active learning strategies and skills. For infants and preschool children to develop readiness for school learning, they need support from parents and families, as well as from other caring and competent adults in the community. To sustain school engagement and make steady academic progress, students need strong parental (and other adult) support; teachers who are competent instructors and can relate to the cultural background of the students, families and communities served by the school; and rigorous and relevant curriculum and instruction.

ENSURING THAT ALL CHILDREN are ready for learning requires a broad range of supports for children, families and schools in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. Some children in Douglas and Sarpy Counties face particular challenges in early childhood and elementary school. We estimate that roughly 3,500 children in low-income families in the two counties are not ready for learning when they start school.7

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There is a strong correlation between poverty and low academic achievement.8 At least half of the achievement gaps demonstrated in school-age children already exist when children enter kindergarten. 9 Children who have not experienced high-quality early care and education (ECE) – often because of limited family resources – fall behind their peers in elementary school reading and math. Children who live in low-income families and neighborhoods experience a high level of stress associated with high mobility, disengagement, frequent absences from school, truancy and suspensions.10 In addition, lack of access to quality health care and affordable quality housing, and exposure to violence provide additional impediments to academic success. Interrupted learning contributes directly to poor academic performance, course failure, and, eventually, to low rates of graduation among low-income and ethnic minority students.

Being Ready for Learning: Needs and Challenges What Children Need School Readiness

• •

School Engagement

• • •

Academic Development

• • •

Scope of the Challenge (Douglas and Sarpy Counties) 14,561 children under 5 in low-income families are not served by state and federally funded programs. ECE programs (8,736 0-3-year-olds; 5,824 3-5-yearolds). An average of 6,582 public school students are absent each day. 1,452 OPS elementary students are suspended. 4,561 students dropped out of school from 2003 to 2006. 1,083 public school 4th-graders are below proficiency level in reading. 782 public school 4th-graders are below proficiency level in math. 1,200 OPS 9th-graders fail courses and lack credits needed to advance to 10th grade.

What’s Needed to Resolve the Problem Access to high-quality ECE programs.

Improved attendance. Support through critical academic transitions. Early identification of impediments to academic achievement. More learning time. Immediate credit rescue and recovery.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2006 American Community Survey (http://www.census.gov/acs/www/); Nebraska Department of Education, 2006-2007 State of the Schools Report (http://reportcard.nde.state.ne.us/Main/Home.aspx); Nebraska Department of Education, Nebraska Head Start Programs (http://www.nde.state.ne.us/ech/HeadStart/nestats.html).

THE BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES task forces proposed a range of solutions to help Omaha children and youth get ready for learning. These solutions include the following: • RECOMMENDATION 1: Increase low-income families’ access to high-quality, comprehensive early care and education programs. • RECOMMENDATION 2: Ensure teacher quality, strong curricula and early identification of impediments to academic achievement. • RECOMMENDATION 3: Provide more time and opportunities for learning. • RECOMMENDATION 4: Improve school attendance. • RECOMMENDATION 5: Support students through critical academic transitions. • RECOMMENDATION 6: Develop immediate programs for credit rescue and recovery. In the remainder of this chapter, we will discuss these recommendations. For each recommendation,

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

we provide a rationale for its importance, identify the scope of the problem or the target population in Douglas and Sarpy Counties, list the specific recommendations from the BBF task forces, and summarize some effective practices related to the recommendation.

RECOMMENDATION 1: Increase Low-Income Families’ Access to High-Quality, Comprehensive Early Care and Education Programs THE MOST RAPID PERIOD of brain development occurs in the first 5 years of life.

Physical health, social development, motivation levels and home environment in the first 5

This critical period sets the stage for life developments and provides the foundation for later learning and success in school. To be able to learn and grow, and to be ready for academic success in school, all children need the following: • Exposure to responsive, loving adults. • A language- and literacy-rich environment.

years are predictors of

• Opportunities to be physically active.

school readiness.

• Good nutrition. • Safe, stable and predictable environments. • Comprehensive health care.

IT IS EASIER FOR FAMILIES with resources to provide optimal early childhood experiences that prepare their children for school. Physical health, social development, mo-

Community Input

HIGHLIGHTS

tivation levels and home environment in the first 5 years are predictors of school readiness. In one of the largest national studies

Priority for Early Childhood

of children’s school readiness, children with

Participants were asked about their relative priority

higher scores on tests of school readiness

for 0 to 3 or 3 to 5. Almost 50% scored them equally,

were more likely to:

29% said that 3 to 5 was more important, and 22%

• Have a parent who has at least a high school degree; • Have both parents living in the home;

said that 0 to 3 was most important. Access to quality ECE was identified as a priority.

Early Childhood Education Priority 49%

• Have 10 or more books in the home; and • Live in a home where English is the primary language spoken. 11

29% 22%

These home and family characteristics are usually associated with having more resources. Children whose families struggle with poverty and insufficient income have

3-5 years is 0-3 & 3-5 years are 0-3 years is more important equally important more important

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a harder time providing optimal early learning experiences and opportunities. In Douglas and Sarpy Counties, more than 18,000 children under the age of 5 live in low-income households.

Low-Income Children Under Age 5 in Douglas and Sarpy Counties Douglas County Sarpy County Total

Children Under Age 5 40,172 11,639 51,811

Low-Income Children Under Age 5 15,908 2,420 18,328

Source: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, 2006. Population is children under 5 for whom poverty status is known.

HIGH-QUALITY EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS improve school readiness and reduce later academic achievement gaps for lowincome children. The quality of care and education that children receive during the first 5 years of life directly affects their development and school readiness. Improving school readiness can reduce later gaps in academic achievement and prevent these gaps from widening. Pathways to achieving this goal include bringing more books into homes, working with parents to improve early literacy practices and interactions with their children, and increasing children’s participation in high-quality ECE programs that offer opportunities for cognitive, social-emotional, and physical development and learning. High-quality ECE programs prepare children for success in school. These include Head Start programs, child care centers, preschools, family-based child care and any other early learning experiences in which a young child participates. More than 14,500 children from low-income families in Douglas and Sarpy Counties do not attend high-quality ECE programs. Those children do not reap the benefits of qualified providers and teachers. Children not in high-quality ECE programs have less exposure to language- and literacy-rich environments and fewer opportunities to be physically active. High-qual-

Participation of Low-income Children in the Douglas and Sarpy County Pre-Kindergarten and Head Start/ Early Head Start Programs, 2007 Number Number in not in Programs Programs Ages 0-3 years (Early Head Start) 180 8,736 Ages 3-5 years (pre-Kindergarten and Head Start) 3,587 5,824 Total 3,767 14,560 Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2006 American Community Survey (http://www.census.gov/acs/www/); Nebraska Department of Education, Nebraska Head Start Programs (http://www.nde.state.ne.us/ech/HeadStart/nestats.html). Number of children not in ECE programs is estimated based on total number of children under age 5 in low-income families in the two-county area.

ity programs can help children by facilitating good nutrition and providing them with safe, stable and predictable environments in which to grow and develop. Lacking the support and benefits that highquality ECE can provide, more than 3,500 children begin kindergarten unprepared for success. Most of them will never catch up.

IN THE TWO-COUNTY AREA, only 20 percent of children living in lowincome families attend state or federally funded ECE programs such as Head Start. Families that are at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) have access to federally funded programs such as Early Head Start, which serves children from birth to 3 years, and Head Start, which serves children ages 3 to 5. To be eligible to attend pre-K classrooms (formal educational programs operated by local school districts), a family in Nebraska must meet federal free or reduced-price lunch guidelines (family income less than 185 percent of FPL). Of the 18,328 children in families that qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, only 20 percent are served in Head Start, Early Head Start or Educare programs (1,195) or in pre-K classrooms in the public schools (2,572). In Douglas and Sarpy Counties, 8,736 low-income infants and toddlers (ages 0-3) and 5,824 low-income preschoolers (ages 3-5) are unserved by high-quality ECE programs.

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CHILD CARE SUBSIDIES provide financial support to the families of 6,000 children in the two-county area. Many children and families benefit from grants funded by the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) and administered by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. To qualify for a subsidy, the parent or caregiver must be employed, attending school or training, receiving medical or counseling services, or incapacitated. If a family has not received Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) assistance within the past 6 months and its gross income is below 120 percent of FPL, it is eligible for a child care subsidy. This is the lowest eligibility standard in the nation. During 2006, more than 6,000 children in Douglas and Sarpy Counties were served by the child care subsidy.12 Two-thirds of these children were infants and toddlers (ages 0-3) and the remaining third were preschool-age children (ages 3-5). Child care subsidies were used at 289 family-based child care programs and 183 center-based child care programs. Many more families sorely need subsidies to pay for child care. Low-income or “working poor� families that are not eligible for federally funded programs struggle to pay for high-quality care for their children. For these families, child care is estimated to be about 20 percent of the household budget.13 Policy recommendations include raising the rate of eligibility from 120 percent of FPL to 185 percent and extending the length of time a family can receive the child care subsidy without having to requalify.

MANY CHILDREN ARE SERVED IN ECE PROGRAMS of unknown or variable quality. National estimates suggest that as many as 40 percent of children from low-income families are cared for by family, friends or neighbors in family-based programs, and another 34 percent attend licensed center-based ECE programs for part or all of the day.14 There are more than 800 family-based child care programs and 428 center-based programs in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. Nearly all the family-based programs serve infants and toddlers, but fewer than half of the center-based programs do. Child care quality varies depending on the type of program (family-based versus centerbased), the licensing or regulatory standards of the governing agency, and the teachers and staff who provide the care. Many family-based child care arrangements are unregulated or unlicensed, and many center-based programs meet only the minimum state health and safety standards. Programs have a hard time attracting and retaining qualified staff members who are knowledgeable and well trained, and who can provide high-quality care.

INCREASING ACCESS TO HIGH-QUALITY ECE PROGRAMS for children in low-income families should be a priority. Three broad approaches have been used to improve children’s access to high-quality ECE programs: 1. Increase the supply of high-quality ECE programs. Strategies include providing incentives for high-quality programs to serve more children, funding the infrastructure, and funding supports to increase capacity or intensity of programming. 2. Improve the quality of existing programs. Strategies include providing incentives for programs; providing technical assistance and infrastructure support; developing and expanding

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training and educational opportunities for providers/teachers (e.g., providing scholarships for providers to obtain 2-year or 4-year college degrees or offering professional development workshops or training on specific topics of interest – children with special needs, English learners, challenging behavior problems, early literacy) and reducing turnover by improving parity and benefits for the early childhood workforce. 3. Increase families’ access to high-quality ECE programs. Strategies in this area have not been

Task Force Recommendations To Increase Family Access to High-Quality Early Care and Education:

Three broad approaches have

• Increase access for 0-3 year olds to high-qual-

been used to improve chil-

ity ECE programs. • Increase access for 3 and 4 year-olds to highquality ECE programs. • Provide scholarships to attend high-quality ECE programs.

• Provide professional development for ECE providers that includes in-service training, coaching, education and other support. • Offer home visitation for parents from pregnancy until the child’s third birthday. • Provide transportation services as necessary.

• Acquire full funding for the Early Childhood

• Create centers of excellence to attract and

Education Endowment, which will fund high-

retain highly skilled professionals, foster pro-

quality services for children ages 0-3.

fessional networks throughout the commu-

• Improve the quality of existing ECE programs.

nity, and incubate innovative and effective

• Develop and pilot a school readiness project

practices in early childhood education.

(such as Ready School) to increase schools’ capacity to support children who are not

• Conduct a public awareness campaign on the importance of investing early.

ready for school.

dren’s access to high-quality ECE programs: 1. Increase the supply of highquality ECE programs. 2. Improve the quality of existing programs. 3. Increase families’ access to high-quality ECE programs.

Community Input

HIGHLIGHTS (EARLY CHILDHOOD) Community Rankings of BBF Task Force Recommendations 1. Increase parental involvement.

accountability and responsibility.

2. Enhance parenting skills with home visitation.

3. Build trust between parents and school.

3. Increase access to developmental screening.

4. Help provide access to high-quality child care (free preschool, universal early child care, encourage reading in daycare, help parents identify what they should do with children at an early age.)

4. Increase the number of children with health insurance. 5. Expand education and professional development opportunities. Additional Community Priorities 1. Support and provide resources for parents, single mothers and families (address economics, jobs, resources, transportation.) 2. Recognize and support parental ownership,

5. Increase and improve pay, benefits and incentives for early child care workers. 6. Provide school-based clinics. 7. Develop specific plans for foster care and wards of the state.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

as well studied. Innovative approaches recognize that the cost of high-quality child care is

Key Features of High-Quality ECE Programs

prohibitive for many families. Efforts to help include providing families with information resources and financial support to increase access.

ECE programs that promote school readiness and school success have the following

PROGRAMS TO IMPROVE family access to early care and education should be guided by research-based practices.

features: • They are comprehensive.

The research on early care and education identifies common elements of high-quality

• They use a research-based curriculum. • They provide all-day, year-round care with well-trained and educated teachers and staff.

programs. These elements are summarized in the box to the left. 15

Recommendation 2: Ensure Teacher Quality, Strong Curricula and Early Identification of Impediments to Academic Achievement

• They have small classes and high teacher-

READING AND MATH are critical foundation skills.

child ratios. • They are staffed by warm and responsive adults.

Reading and math skills are the building blocks of learning. After solidifying reading skills in early elementary school, students make the critical transition from learning to read to

• They provide language-rich environments.

reading to learn. Success in middle school and high school depends heavily on the ability to

• They are characterized by close teacher-

read, understand and apply information from increasingly complex texts.16 Mathematics is also a critical foundation skill for school and life success. Low math

child relationships. • They involve families in programming.

achievement in elementary school sets students up for later academic failure. Conversely, early success in math can have a positive effect on a student’s academic self-image, and

steady progress in math through middle school is a key component of academic success in high school and beyond.17

IT IS CRUCIAL TO IDENTIFY students who are struggling with reading and math as early as possible, and to intervene with additional support. A strong core curriculum delivered by qualified and caring teachers will provide adequate opportunities for most students to master basic reading and mathematics. However, without additional instructional support and intervention, students who struggle with reading and math typically fall farther behind their peers. Early intervention is the best way to prevent this spiral and minimize struggling students’ risk of academic failure. Ongoing diagnostic assessment by teachers is the best way to identify students in need of additional support in reading or math. Such assessment is particularly important in reading instruction in kindergarten through the third grade. Teachers should be able to recognize when children lack proficiency in key component skills in early reading (e.g., phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and fluency). The goal of instruction is to help all students master reading skills and achieve grade-level reading comprehension ability no later than the end of the third grade.18 In both reading and math, a multi-tier instructional approach is required that incorporates ongoing diagnostic assessment, such as the Response to Intervention (RTI) approach. The RTI approach provides: • High-quality instruction to all students (Tier 1); • Short-term supplemental instruction to students who have fallen slightly behind (Tier 2); and

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• More intensive instructional intervention for students who are far off track (Tier 3). The number of students who require Tier 2 or Tier 3 levels of support will vary from district to district and school to school. Typically, in a large and diverse school district, roughly one-third to one-half of all students will be identified

Summary of Response to Intervention Instructional Tiers

for Tier 2 short-term supplemental instruction or tutoring to bring their progress in reading or math back on track. Roughly 10 percent to 20 percent will have a harder time

Typical Percentage Focus of Students in Tier Tier 1 Rigor across the curriculum 100% Tier 2 Short-term supplemental instruction 30-50% Tier 3 Intensive intervention 10-20%

keeping pace with reading and math achievement and will be targeted for the more intensive and longer-term Tier 3 interventions.19

HIGHLY QUALIFIED TEACHERS ARE NEEDED to help all children master basic reading and math. Effective teaching of basic reading and math requires high-level content area knowledge and specialized pedagogical skills. Adequate teacher preparation, effective mentoring and coaching, and ongoing professional development are needed to ensure that teachers are fully equipped to deliver effective early reading and mathematics instruction. Recruiting and retaining effective teachers is essential. The need for sufficient numbers of highly qualified instructors is particularly acute in schools and districts that have the highest concentrations of students who are struggling with reading and math.20

Community Input

HIGHLIGHTS Greatest Impact on Teacher Effectiveness Recruit culturally competent/diverse teachers

10%

Targeted recruitment of minority teachers

4%

Grow your own program Alternate pathways through community colleges

3% 1%

Alternative pathways: teachers receive full salary/benefits Remove roadblocks to transfers between states

9% 7%

Pre-service Teacher Training and Prof. Development Professional Development Academy Professional Networks/Targeted Mentoring Programs

17% 13% 17%

Teacher involvement in leadership/decision-making

20%

IMPORTANCE OF RECRUITING AND RETAINING quality and culturally competent teachers. Recruitment and retention of high-quality and culturally competent teachers are essential to building and maintaining an effective and successful faculty. Adequate and competitive compensation, pro-

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

fessional development, administrative support and creation of a supportive teaching environment are all essential ingredients.

CHILDREN WHO STRUGGLE with reading and math achievement in elementary school are concentrated in districts and schools that have high proportions of low-income and minority students. Among the 7,588 public-school fourth-graders in Douglas and Sarpy Counties in 20062007, 1,083 scored below the proficiency standard in reading and 782 were below the proficiency standard in math on locally developed criterion referenced tests (CRTs). These students, who are likely to be in need of short-term (Tier 2) or more intensive (Tier 3) instructional interventions in reading and math, are not distributed evenly across districts and schools in the two counties. The students who are having difficulties with elementary reading and mathematics are concentrated in schools that have high proportions of low-income and ethnic minority children. For example, OPS – with 45 percent of the total number of students in public schools in Douglas and Sarpy Counties (47,044 out of 105,285) – has more than three-quarters (22,283 out of 37,337) of the low-income students, more than three-quarters (26,946 out of 34,901) of the ethnic minority students, and four-fifths (6,313 out of 7,335) of the English language learners. These demographic characteristics are closely related to the distribution of students struggling with reading and math.

Distribution of Fourth-Grade Students Not Meeting Proficiency Standards in Reading and Math (2006-07 CRT Results) Percentage of Total Number Low-Income of FourthStudents Graders Omaha Public Schools 60 3,423 Millard Public Schools 10 1,549 Papillion-La Vista Public Schools 16 634 Bellevue Public Schools 23 621 Westside Community Schools 20 459 Elkhorn Public Schools 8 348 Ralston Public Schools 35 197 Gretna Public Schools 7 178 South Sarpy District 46 13 87 Bennington Public Schools 8 52 Douglas County 38 40 West Community Schools Douglas and Sarpy 35 7,588

Number Below Number Below Proficiency Proficiency Standard in Standard in Reading Math 605 381 169 182 100 98 94 34 35 43 22 7 44 17 2 8 7 10 4 1 1

1

1,083

782

Source: Nebraska Department of Education, http://reportcard.nde.state.ne.us.

EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS and intensive interventions to bring all students up to grade level in reading and math are also needed in middle school and high school. In the near future, and possibly for many years to come, the need for early identification and active intervention to bring all students up to grade level expectations in reading and math will not be con-

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fined to elementary school. Middle school and high school students who are far behind their peers in reading and math also need and will benefit from supplemental instruction and support.

Task Force Recommendations To Ensure Excellence in Reading and Math Achievement for All Omaha Children and Youth School Districts Should: • Implement high-quality, evidence-based reading and math instructional programs in elementary schools. • Implement multi-tier instructional interventions in reading and mathematics in elementary schools. • Hire additional elementary literacy coaches as needed. • Offer supplemental reading and math tutoring and intensive instruction by highly qualified educators to students at each level of schooling. • Hire additional middle school literacy coaches and high school literacy facilitators. • Recruit and retain highly effective professional and paraprofessional staff, including culturally responsive and diverse teachers. Offer incentives including a living wage and good benefit packages. • Increase access to high-quality pre-service teacher education (increase contextualized learning) and teacher professional development to improve instruction and increase cultural understanding.

READING AND MATH PROGRAMS should include a strong, evidencebased curriculum for all students, early identification of students experiencing difficulties and effective multi-tiered instructional interventions. There is strong research support for multi-tiered approaches to instructional improvement. Response to Intervention (RTI) is an evidence-based approach to reading instruction that combines strong instructional programs for all students and early identification of students who are experiencing difficulties.21

Key Features of Response to Intervention Key features of Response to Intervention (RTI) include high-quality instruction for all students, highquality teachers, ongoing student assessment, a coherent instructional plan that provides coordinated reading lessons every day for every student at every level of intervention, interventions to help students learn how to read and special education placement on the basis of ability to learn. In practice, RTI includes the following: • Multi-tiered identification and intervention. • Establishment of effective teaching strategies and core curriculum for the general education population. • Universal screening to identify students in need of instructional intervention. • Use of research-based interventions in general education. • Measurement of student responses to interventions. • Use of student data to change intensity or form of interventions.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Recommendation 3: Provide More Time and Opportunities for Learning EXTENDING LEARNING TIME IS AN EFFECTIVE STRATEGY for improving achievement. In today’s era of accountability, many schools are looking for ways to raise achievement. One option is to increase the amount of time spent on learning. Research shows that additional time positively affects learning by: • Providing more time on task; • Increasing opportunities to study materials in more depth and breadth; • Giving teachers more opportunities for planning and professional development; • Offering students greater enrichment and experiential learning opportunities; and • Giving students and teachers time to forge stronger relationships.22 Within the two-county area there are wide differences among school district curricula and calendars, which inhibit program coordination and common measurements of academic achievement. Improving coordination among school districts will be important in increasing and improving academic access, opportunities and performance.

SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS have several options for extending learning time. Extended learning expands the time dedicated to education beyond the traditional six-hour, 180-

Options for lengthening

day schedule. Schools use extended time for a variety of purposes. Some focus on direct instruction

the school schedule in-

and use the time for longer classes or additional class periods in mathematics and English. Others

clude the following: • Longer class periods. • Longer school days.

use additional time to support students through skill level enhancement, credit rescue and recovery through tutoring, homework help, and enrichment activities. Schools also use extra time for community-building activities or events in the school, or to

• More school days.

provide planning opportuni-

• Summer school.

ment activities for teachers.

• Online learning.

ties beyond the school day in-

ties or professional developExtra learning opportuniclude before and after-school programs and summer school. These programs are not part of the traditionally mandated

UNO Chancellor John Christensen delivers task force report while Mayor Mike Fahey looks on.

school day and do not involve the whole population of the school. Some programs focus on academics, tutoring or homework help; others focus on arts, recreation or character education.23 Academically focused after-school programs have been shown to improve achievement in reading

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and math.24 However, an inventory of local service providers revealed that few after-school programs in the two-county area have an academic focus, and even fewer offer high-quality tutoring. Summer learning is important to reduce the achievement gap, improve student skill levels and recover lost credits. National

Community Input

research shows that, over-

HIGHLIGHTS

all, lower-income students

Level of Support for Mandatory Summer School* 52%

Strongly support 21%

Support 10%

Somewhat support 6%

Neutral

start a new school year at about the same level as the previous spring, while higher-income students

Task Force Recommendations

perform at a higher level

To Provide Additional Learning Opportunities, School Districts Should:

Somewhat against

3%

at the beginning of each

Against

4%

school year than they did

Strongly against

5%

in the previous spring. Specifically, students with

*Support for mandatory summer school received strong community-wide support.

a lower socio-economic status (SES) generally maintain the same reading level over the summer, but they lose ground in math. These results highlight the importance of summer learning opportunities for low SES students.

25

EXTENDED LEARNING TIME benefits all students, but it is key to improving achievement for lower-performing students. For higher-performing students, additional learning time is an opportunity for acceleration. With more time and opportunities for learning, these students can take advanced courses, including college courses, to deepen their learning or get a head start on post-secondary education. Some students take longer to learn and need more time to master required content. For these

• Offer supplemental academic tutoring provided by qualified educators. • Extend the school day and school year for increased instructional time. • Expand academic summer camps and summer school options – including mandatory summer school – particularly for low-income students. • Coordinate school calendars and school days across all districts in the two-county area. • Increase links between the school day and after-school programs.

students, extended learning time can be the bridge to academic success. The graph below shows the overall percentage of students in the two-county area who did not meet state standards on locally developed tests.26 These students are the target populations for Building Bright Futures programs that provide more time and opportunities to learn.

Students Not Meeting Standards Need Extra Learning Opportunities* 1,083 Elementary School

1,051 High School 860 Middle School

Locally Developed Reading Tests

782 Elementary School

834 Middle School

976 High School

Locally Developed Math Tests

*Number of students in Douglas and Sarpy Counties who did not meet state standards on locally developed tests in 2006-2007. Source: Nebraska Department of Education, 2006-2007 State of the Schools Report, (http://reportcard.nde.state.ne.us).

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Effective High-Quality Tutoring Programs:

ADDED TIME is effective only if it is used well. Extra learning opportunities should be specifically designed to employ principles of effective teach-

• Require close coordination between tutors and students’ classroom teachers.

ing and to provide engaging opportunities for students to learn important content. Tutoring programs,

• Link tutoring activities to the school curriculum.

Some of these practices are listed in the table at left.27

• Hire only qualified and carefully screened tutors.

Recommendation 4: Improve School Attendance

• Use research-based methods. • Monitor students’ progress. • Provide appropriate space for tutoring.

BEING PRESENT IN SCHOOL is necessary for learning and graduation. Students who miss school fall behind academically, fueling a self-perpetuating cycle of poor attendance and low achievement. As the graph at right shows, scores on the California Achievement Test

OPS 8th Graders California Achievement Test Results Attendance Affects Achievement

for eighth-graders in OPS show dramatic differences related to attendance. Students with fewer than 10 absences performed slightly better than the overall population and far better than their peers who had 10 or more absences. Predictably, students with more than 10 absences fared worse than the overall population on the standardized test.

Mean Percentile

• Provide initial and ongoing training for tutors.

whether they take place in school or in an after-school program, should also follow effective practices.

60 40 20

Overall

Reading

Language Arts

10 or fewer absences

Math

More than 10 absences

Source: Omaha Public Schools Office of Research, 2007.

STUDENTS MISS SCHOOL for a variety of reasons. Many students miss school for valid reasons. Others have no excuse and are defined as truant. The research on truancy identifies school factors, home and community factors, and student factors that contribute to truancy.28 These are summarized in the table below.

Why Are Students Truant? School Factors Lack of effective attendance policies and record-keeping. Parents/guardians not notified of absences. Teachers who do not understand or respect students. Unwelcoming or unsafe environment. Curriculum that does not engage students.

Home and Community Factors Health or financial concerns that require student to care for family or work during school. Negative role models, including peers or siblings who are truant. Parents or guardians who are complicit in absences. Families that move frequently (high mobility).

Student Factors Lack of self-esteem caused by poor academic performance. Substance abuse.

NATIONAL STUDIES HAVE SHOWN that early absences matter and that even some kindergartners are chronically absent. Nationally, 15 percent of kindergarteners and 12 percent of first graders miss an average of 12 to 18 days per school year – far above the average of 5 days. Students with high absences in kindergarten

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score lower on achievement tests at the end of first grade; early absences are particularly detrimental to the later reading performance of lowincome and Latino children.29 Because younger students generally have little autonomy, most early absences are caused by illness and family factors, including lack of moTask force co-chair Kim Hawekotte delivers a report.

Four broad reasons why students drop out of school:

bility. These findings highlight the need to increase family

• Life events.

awareness about the importance of school attendance and to develop mechanisms for early identifica-

• Fadeouts.

tion of students who are at risk of becoming chronically absent.

MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL ABSENCES are predictors of dropping out of high school.

• Pushouts. • Failing.

Four broad reasons explain why students drop out of school: 1. Life Events – Some students drop out because of something that happens outside school, such as a serious illness, pregnancy, getting arrested, having to work to support the family or having to care for family. 2. Fadeouts – These students have been promoted through the grades, but become frustrated or bored, do not see a reason for coming to school and believe they can succeed without a high school diploma. 3. Pushouts – Students who are (or are perceived to be) difficult, dangerous or detrimental to a school’s success may be encouraged to withdraw or transfer, or are dropped from the school rolls for failing too many courses or missing too many days of school. 4. Failing – Some students do not succeed on their own in school and attend schools that fail to provide

How Many Absences Are Too Many? Absences can be a predictor of dropping out if students: • Attend school 80 percent or less of the time during sixth grade; • Miss more than a month during high school; or • Are absent for 1-2 weeks per semester in their freshman year.

them with the environment and supports they need to succeed. Failing can be caused by poor academic preparation or unmet socio-emotional needs, and failure can be a process that plays out for several years before a student actually drops out. It is easy to see how absences play into these scenarios and how the scenarios exacerbate absenteeism. Research shows that absenteeism is among the factors that predict whether a student will graduate from high school. Some evidence suggests that students who are at risk of dropping out are identifiable as early as sixth grade (see Community Input Highlights on following page).30

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Community Input

HIGHLIGHTS Additional Community Priorities (Participants: Teens and young adults focus groups) Why do kids drop out? (Teen Summit) • Pregnancy.

• Failure to get necessary credits.

• Family tragedy/household troubles.

• Course work does not apply to real world.

• Gangs, bullies, haters, peer pressure.

• Personal family problems that require student to stay home.

• Drugs, STDs. • Stress from bills, grading scale, credit recovery, fall behind, frustration, tardiness leads to suspension, feel disconnected.

High 30% Middle 17%

Elementary 53%

Absences by Grade Level as a Percentage of Total Daily Absences

• Peers who have already dropped out. • Lack of support from school system.

• No motivation, no positive benefits, no value to education.

What can we do to stop kids from dropping out? (Teen Summit) • More flexible schedule – start time, programs during school day, Saturday school.

• Bills, money issues, need job.

• Credit recovery – tutoring.

• Go get a GED.

• Caring adults – role models who look like me.

Why do kids drop out? (Bridge-to-Success Students) • Lack of family support.

• Youth and young adult programs.

• Leave school to support family.

• Better curriculums, hands-on learning.

• Parents did not finish and, therefore, do not see the value of education.

• School climate.

• Teen pregnancy.

• Revise discipline code.

• Uncaring teachers and staff.

Membership in Douglas and Sarpy County Schools By Grade Level

• Students find school work too difficult.

• Better teachers. • Motivate – cash for credits.

• Job Corps – career events.

OVERALL DAILY ATTENDANCE RATES in Douglas and Sarpy County school districts are relatively high, but high school students are disproportionately absent. Daily attendance rates range from 91 to 97 percent across the school districts in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. These rates, while relatively high overall, do not reflect variations within the districts; we know that some schools have more absences – and more truancy and chronic absenteeism – than others.

High 47%

Elementary 37% Middle 16%

Local data show that absences among high school students are disproportionately high across the two-county area. The charts at left show that, although high school students represent 30 percent of the school population, nearly half of daily absences (47 percent) are at the high school level. High school students are absent for many reasons (see the table above, Why do kids drop out?). Compared with younger students, high school students have more autonomy and are subject to more

Sources: These figures are based on Average Daily Attendance (ADA) and Average Daily Membership (ADM) data for 2006–07 for all districts except Douglas County West. OPS data are for 2004–05. Absences are calculated differently within and across school districts.

distractions. They are also more likely to skip school if they have experienced years of academic difficulty and are reaching the point of dropping out. Our entire community will benefit from efforts to increase school attendance across the board, but initial efforts will focus on these two areas:

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• Reducing absences among high school students. • Improving attendance rates to at least 95 percent in all schools. In schools with attendance rates below 95 percent, programs will focus on students who are chronically absent, those who are truant and those who are at risk of becoming chronically absent or truant. Efforts to reduce absences will require a systematic tracking and notification system to enable schools to identify absence patterns before they become problematic.

IMPROVING ATTENDANCE requires greater coordination across the community. According to the Building Bright Futures task force on truancy, our region does not have a plan to develop an orchestrated response to absenteeism and truancy. Schools can detect and respond to absences, but they lack the means to compel parents and students to action. Law enforcement can compel action but cannot influence school policies. Service providers can reinforce student success, but there is little coordination among them or between them and schools. Improving attendance in Douglas and Sarpy Counties will require all agencies to work in concert to develop and enforce coherent policies.

Task Force Recommendations To Improve Attendance and Academic Achievement: • Create a community-wide commitment to school attendance. Launch a public awareness campaign to facilitate this effort. • Encourage the state Legislature, local communities and school boards to create and enforce clear policy guidelines regarding absenteeism. • Offer incentives to students, parents, schools, districts and communities for improving attendance; impose sanctions for poor attendance; and offer redemption options for those who have received sanctions. • Encourage greater attachment to school through clubs, extracurricular activities and connections to adults at the school. • Reduce the number of out-of-school suspensions and use in-school suspensions productively to support students academically. • Provide incentives for students’ academic engagement and success in middle school. • Create a community response team to contact families of youth who are not in school. • Draw on the strengths of families and students to encourage attendance and improve attachment to school. • Enhance information sharing and create uniform tracking and notification systems across school districts.

RESEARCH IS CLEAR about what works to address absenteeism, and the Building Bright Futures attendance programs will incorporate proven strategies. School districts and communities across the country are implementing truancy prevention programs. The National Center for School Engagement has conducted numerous evaluations of truancy

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Reducing Truancy To Improve Achievement

programs and has identified several components of effective programs. These compo-

Effective truancy reduction programs include the following components:

Recommendation 5: Support Students through Critical Academic Transitions

nents are summarized in the box to the left.

• Parent/guardian or whole family involvement.

THE TRANSITION FROM ONE LEVEL of schooling to the next is difficult for students who struggle academically and those who face personal challenges.

• A continuum of supports, including meaningful incentives for good attendance and consequences for poor attendance. • Collaboration among community actors, such as law enforcement, mental health workers, mentors and social service providers, in addition to educators. • Concrete and measurable goals for program performance and student performance. • Good record keeping and ongoing evaluation of progress toward goals. Source: National Center for School Engagement Truancy Fact Sheet, www.schoolengagement.org/TruancypreventionRegistry/Admin/ Resources/Resources/TruancyFactSheet.pdf.

Throughout their academic lives, children and youth navigate a series of critical transitions as they move from one level of education to the next. For most students in the metropolitan Omaha area, these transitions go smoothly. However, transitions can be watershed moments for students who struggle academically, those who face personal challenges (living in poverty or having poor health, for example) and those who are not in the cultural mainstream of their communities. For these students and others, making the transition from one level of schooling to the next can add just enough stress to tip the balance toward disengagement with school, low motivation to achieve, and eventual academic failure and dropout.

STRONG ATTACHMENT TO SCHOOL is needed for students to sustain progress and stay on track for graduation. Many students drop out of school in the ninth grade, but the process typically begins earlier. The first critical academic transition children face is in early childhood, when infants and small children develop school readiness skills. Many children who grow up in resource-poor families and communities are already behind

Community Input

their peers academically

HIGHLIGHTS

when they enter kindergarten. High-quality early care and education, followed by effective early elementary instruction in school, are the keys to keeping these children on track academically.

From Survey of Bridge-To-Success Students Whom do you turn to for help? 57%

Parents/Relatives Teachers

0% 14%

Friends/Peers 7%

Church Counselors

In elementary school, it

No one to go to

is important to make school

Other

0% 7% 14%

a welcoming environment for all students. Feeling safe, developing attachments to teachers and fellow students, and having fun while learning in the early elementary years can set the stage for steady academic progress.31 Community outreach engagement with students reveals significant numbers of at-risk population students feel that no one at their schools cares about them and that they turn to their peers for support rather than parents, teachers, church leaders or counselors.

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27

THE TRANSITION FROM ELEMENTARY to middle school is particularly perilous. Students who fail to develop strong attachments to school by the time they reach the middle grades are very likely to drop out of high school. Lack of engagement shows up in poor school attendance, which creates a vicious cycle as students who miss more and more instructional time fall farther behind in their coursework, feel less inclined to attend and eventually drop out.32 We know that some students will need additional support and attention to make the transition to middle school successfully. In the upper elementary (fifth and sixth) grades, these students include those who:

The middle grade transition

• Are chronically absent (more than 10 times a term);

is particularly tough, because

• Have failed one or more subjects; or

students in high-poverty neigh-

• Have been subjected to disciplinary action, such as suspension, because of behavioral problems. During the 2006-07 school year, 1,452 students were suspended (some more than once) from OPS elementary schools. The key to helping such students make the transition from elementary to middle school is to make

borhoods are experiencing multiple changes in their lives at the very moment they are

the middle school a familiar and welcoming environment – a place where all students feel that they

making an independent deci-

are known and cared about by

sion on whether or not to be

Number of OPS Elementary Students Suspended and Expelled

the adults in the school. For students who have experienced problems in elementary school, summer transition programs at the middle school will help prepare them for the new social environment and the new level of

School Year 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 Number of elementary 1,560 1,392 1,333 1,452 students suspended Number of elementary 2 10 13 6 students expelled

engaged with schooling.

33

Source: Omaha Public Schools, Office of Research, 2007.

academic demands. Schools should take steps to foster more teacher collaboration within the middle school and between elementary and middle schools, and to give more individual attention to students with at-risk characteristics. These steps should include the following: • Provide structured planning time so teachers can align the curriculum across elementary and middle grades, and plan transition programs to address the academic, developmental, social and personal needs of students. • Implement a comprehensive advisory or other program that gives each student frequent and meaningful opportunities to meet with an adult to plan and monitor academic, personal and social development.34 • Identify students most in need of a mentor and match them with the most effective mentoring program.

THE TRANSITION FROM MIDDLE SCHOOL to high school is another danger point. Students who enter high school with strong reading, math and study skills; strong attachment to

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

school; and a strong desire to achieve academically are very likely to graduate in four years with good college and work readiness skills. Students who lack skills, engagement in school and motivation to

Distribution of 8th-Grade Students Below Proficiency Standard in Reading (2006-07 CRT Results)

achieve will struggle; many of them will fail courses and drop out. Summer transi-

dard (CRT) in reading and

Number Below Proficiency Total Number of Standard in Eighth-Graders Reading Omaha Public Schools 3,333 489 Millard Public Schools 1,555 102 Papillion-La Vista Public Schools 707 131 Bellevue Public Schools 724 38 Westside Community Schools 452 37 Elkhorn Public Schools 304 14 Ralston Public Schools 251 41 Gretna Public Schools 173 0 South Sarpy District 46 74 2 Bennington Public Schools 81 3 Douglas County 52 2 West Community Schools Douglas and Sarpy total 7,706 860

many more were reading

Source: Nebraska Department of Education, 2006-2007 State of the Schools Report (http://reportcard.nde.state.ne.us).

below grade level.

level on standards-based reading tests. With supplemental reading instruction or intensive tutor-

During the 2006-07 school year, 860 of the 7,706 eighth-graders in Douglas and Sarpy County public schools tested below the proficiency stan-

tion programs to build academic skills needed to succeed at their respective grade level and to encourage school attachment and motivation should be provided for all struggling students before they enter high school. One indicator of the need for academic support during the transition from middle school to high school is the number of eighth-graders who test below the proficiency

ing in an academic summer school program, these students will be far better equipped to meet the challenges of high school course work. During the 2006-07 school year, 860 of the 7,706 eighthgraders in Douglas and Sarpy County public schools tested below the proficiency standard (CRT) in reading.

Task Force Recommendations To Support Student Transitions From One Level of Schooling to the Next: • Introduce incoming seventh-grader and ninth-grader transition programs. • Create family resource centers to connect parents with community resources, parent education and home visiting. • Give students greater access to schools after hours for study and extracurricular activities. • Develop an approach that builds on a student’s internal strengths and external supports from peers, family, schools and community to encourage attendance and improve attachment to school. • Develop a case management approach to meeting youths’ needs. • Increase coordination and improve relationships between schools and service and care providers. • Create a centralized database of behavioral health services and providers to improve access to appropriate and high-quality services. • Provide transportation to give access to transition programs and other supplemental academic and support services.

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29

Key Features of Personalized Learning Environments to Promote Attachment to School and Help Students through Critical Transitions To create a personalized learning environment, teachers and administrators should: • Engage families as partners in student learning. Task force chairs discuss recommendations.

• Create small units in schools and do away with student anonymity.

PROGRAMS SHOULD INCLUDE proven practices to support youth through critical academic transitions. Best practices to help students through critical academic transitions include identifying individual student needs and ensuring that students develop a strong attachment to a caring school community. 35

Recommendation 6: Develop Immediate Programs for Credit Rescue and Recovery CREDITS EARNED are a critical factor in high school success. Course failures jeopar-

HIGHLIGHTS

graduation. Credit recovery is

• Make sure each student has a personal plan for progress. • Make sure each student has a personal adult advocate. • Have teachers and administrators convey a sense of caring so students know that teachers have a stake in their learning.

Community Input

dize student progress toward

• Involve teachers with students full time and have teachers work with no more than 90 students to ensure individual attention.

defined as an opportunity for

Helping Kids Succeed (K-Through-12)

• Implement flexible scheduling and flexible student grouping.

a student to repeat a course to earn credit required for

Ranking of BBF Task Force Recommendations. 1. Develop early career awareness and education.

• Make sure the school models core values essential in a democratic civil society.

graduation. Targeted inter-

2. Better coordination between school and after-school programs.

ventions to prevent course

3. Provide support to parents facing mobility challenges.

failure should begin in the

4. Provide coaches to strengthen instruction/early intervention.

elementary grades and con-

5. Develop a coordinated community-wide campaign to recruit mentors.

• Have schools work in conjunction with other community agencies to coordinate the delivery of physical and behavioral health and social services.

tinue through middle school. However, immediate credit recovery is especially critical in the first year or two of

Number of High School Students Off Track For 4-Year Graduation in OPS (2007-08)

high school. Students who fail core courses in ninth grade immediately fall off track for 4-year graduation and are at high risk of dropping out. Imme-

Grade 9 Grade 10 Grade 11 Grade 12

On Track 3,130 2,486 2,253 2,198

Off Track 1,270 987 614 372

Percentage Off Track 29 28 21 14

Source: Omaha Public Schools Office of Research, 2007.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

diate steps are needed to keep them on track for graduation, including credit rescue measures and acquisition of grade level reading and math skills. This will involve tutoring, mentoring and social support services to prevent course failure, and credit recovery measures such as alternative education options and mandatory summer school. In the Omaha Public Schools, the problem of high school students falling off track for graduation because of failed credits is particularly severe.

School leaders would do

COURSE FAILURE CAN BE PREVENTED and lost credits can be recovered quickly by providing students with a range of strong alternative education options.

well to learn from alter-

The goals of developing alternative education options for credit rescue and recovery should be to

native educators about

increase the number of students who graduate and to prepare all students for post-secondary edu-

what works for students

ous academic requirements, curriculum that is relevant to students’ future education and work, and

cation and work. Schools should adopt an approach that combines balanced school reform (e.g., rigor-

who are not on the col-

strong relationships with caring adults) with early intervention to ensure that course failure/credit loss

lege track when they en-

Reforms take time – effecting substantial improvements in test scores and increasing the percent-

ter ninth grade and then

age of graduates may take many years.38 In the meantime, though, schools can provide alternative edu-

implement the changes necessary to reduce the

is minimized and that credit recovery options are available to keep students on track for graduation.37

cation options for high school students to recover lost credits and put them back on track for graduation in 4 years. It is not always necessary (and may not be effective) to require students to repeat the same course taught in the same manner, but many options are possible for credit recovery:

number of young people

• Offer the course again during the school day.

dropping out of school.

• Offer the course through an adult education or summer school program.

36

• Offer an alternative version of the course using a combination of traditional and online delivery. • Provide additional support (tutoring, mentoring and/or social services) to help struggling students master the course content. Online credit recovery is an attractive option because it provides flexibility to customize instructional modes, pacing, setting and timing to meet the needs of individual students. In addition to opportunities to retake courses, students who are below grade level in reading and math will need supplemental instruction to develop in these basic skills sufficiently to succeed in high school course work.

CREDIT RECOVERY EFFORTS are critically important in ninth grade, particularly for low-income students, and are needed for all core subject areas. Freshmen accounted for more than half (52 percent) of the failed credits in OPS high schools in 200506. Sophomores accounted for another 26 percent of the lost credits. This concentration of failed course work among underclassmen is exacerbated by students who fail to earn credits and then are not promoted, so these grades contain many students who are repeating them for a second or third year. Students from low-income families (those eligible for free or reduced-price lunch) accounted for the

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31

majority of all lost credits at each grade level in OPS high schools (76 percent of failed credits in grade nine, 67 percent in grade 10, 62 percent in grade 11 and 53 percent in grade 12).

Task Force Recommendations To Immediately Address the Need for Credit Rescue and Recovery: • Introduce immediate alternative program options for credit recovery and credit rescue, including online learning, summer school, and supplemental academic tutoring linked to the school curriculum and provided by qualified tutors. • Focus on credit recovery for truant youth by substituting productive course work for detention or suspension and using after-school suspensions for tutoring and homework support. • Provide professional development for teachers to increase cultural understanding, improve instruction and reduce course failures.

PROGRAMS SHOULD INCLUDE proven practices and features to provide alternative education options. Research has shown that districts should create a portfolio of alternative education options to meet the needs of diverse learners – those in school and those who have left.39

Research-Based Practices In Alternative Education Options for Credit Recovery: • Multiple pathways to a recognized credential. • Programs that offer open entry and open exit (giving students more time and more choice in completing course work). • Compressed and expanded high school programs combined with dual enrollment in postsecondary institutions (earning college credits while in high school). • Programs to recover or make up missing academic credits. • Programs offering schedule flexibility, including evening and year-round schools. • Programs offering career-oriented curricula, with opportunities for students to engage in schoolrelated internships and part-time employment.

Research has shown that districts should create a portfolio of alternative education options to meet the needs of diverse learners – those in school and those who have left.

39

• Adult high schools – especially the well-regarded daylight/twilight model – with opportunities for intergenerational learning.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

3. Ready for Life BEING READY FOR LIFE means developing in a healthy manner and having the skills necessary to succeed in life. Children’s healthy development provides the foundation for school readiness, academic success, health and overall well-being. Readiness for life develops over time in the context of family, schools,

Children’s healthy devel-

community, and societal expectations for children and adolescents. A child who cannot relate well

opment provides the foun-

to others, behave appropriately, trust adults or become motivated to learn will not be able to take

dation for school readi-

programs.

ness, academic success, health and overall wellbeing.

advantage of learning opportunities in early childhood programs, schools and other community Child and youth development experts generally agree that for all children and youth, being ready for life requires the following: 40 • Sound physical health. Good physical health is a key to positive development, and is particularly important to learning and academic achievement. Health needs for all children include good nutrition, regular health and dental care, and safe, healthy environments. • Emotional well-being. A positive sense of self, a sense of belonging and appropriate coping strategies enable children and young people to avoid risky behaviors, resolve conflicts, adapt to challenges and succeed in life. • Positive relationships with adults. Caring, stable relationships promote a strong sense of safety and belonging, which are crucial to development. • Life and social skills. Exposure to a wide range of activities and supports helps young people gain the skills and knowledge they will need as they mature and integrate into adult society. For children and youth to be ready for life, all of these elements must be developed from birth through early adulthood. In fact, one study concluded that the greatest returns to society – in the form of increased high school graduation and college enrollment, reduced criminal behavior and less reliance on public assistance – result from a balanced investment in various developmental interventions throughout childhood and adolescence.41

ENSURING THAT ALL CHILDREN are ready for life requires a robust set of accessible, high-quality services and supports that span various sectors of society. Because being ready for life encompasses such a wide range of needs – from physical and emotional health to life and social skills – preparing children for life requires a similarly wide range of supports. Like families everywhere, families in Douglas and Sarpy Counties want to prepare their children for life. However, many families face challenges in providing the necessary range of high-quality care and experiences for their children. These challenges and their prevalence in the two-county area are summarized in the following table, along with specific supports and services that address those needs.

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33

Being Ready for Life: Needs and Challenges What Children Need Sound physical health

Emotional health

Positive relationships with adults

Life and social skills

Scope of the Challenge What’s Needed to Resolve the (Douglas and Sarpy Counties) Problem 17,187 children without health insurance. Health insurance. 82,000 children without a regular health Regular health care providers care provider. and regular exams. No universal developmental screening. Early identification and intervention. 21,000 children need intervention or treat- Behavioral health services. ment services but are not receiving them. 2,153 children in foster care. Safe, supportive homes. 39,144 children unsupervised after school. Adult supervision after school. 8,000 vulnerable youth need mentors. Mentors. 5,855 juvenile arrests. 3,210 teen pregnancies. 11,476 youth in Omaha and Douglas County live in subsidized housing. 19,041 children and youth ages 5-17 Programs to encourage live in areas that are underserved by positive development. after-school programs.

Task forces proposed a wide range of solutions.

Sources: Nebraska National Survey of Children’s Health, Parent Report Survey, 2005,(www.cdc.gov/nchs/about/major/slaits/nsch. htm); U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General (Rockville, MD: DHHS, 1999) (www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/home.html); J. M. Johnston, Kids Count in Nebraska (Omaha, NE: Voices for Children in Nebraska, 2007); J. Deichert, K. Rolf, & R. L. Smith, 2006 Omaha Youth Afterschool Needs Assessment (Omaha, NE: University of Nebraska, 2007).

BBF recommends creating programs that meet these needs and that target the children and families who face these challenges – especially those who face multiple challenges.

THE BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES task forces proposed a range of solutions focusing on healthy and positive development from birth through adolescence. These solutions include the following: • Recommendation 7: Increase access to health-care coverage. • Recommendation 8: Support healthy development through developmental screening and prevention. • Recommendation 9: Increase access to health and behavioral health services in schools and communities for all children from infancy through age 18. • Recommendation 10: Equip families to support healthy child development. • Recommendation 11: Promote more mentoring relationships. • Recommendation 12: Expand enrollment in after-school programs. In the remainder of this chapter, we will discuss these recommendations. For each recommendation, we provide a rationale for its importance, identify the scope of the problem or the target population in Douglas and Sarpy Counties, list the specific recommendations from the BBF task forces and summarize some effective practices related to the overall recommendation.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Recommendation 7: Increase Access to Health-Care Coverage ALL HEALTH PROBLEMS – physical, medical and behavioral – affect academic achievement. Chronic health problems are associated with school absences, learning disabilities and grade repetition. Children from low-income families are more likely to suffer from a wide array of these problems, which puts them at a disadvantage in school and in life.42 For this reason, it is important for children and youth to have access to comprehensive, high-quality health-care coverage.

More than 17,000 children under age 18 in Douglas and Sarpy Counties are uninsured, and more than 43

TOO FEW YOUTH IN OMAHA have access to comprehensive health-care coverage or to comprehensive, high-quality heath care. More than 17,000 children under age 18 in Douglas and Sarpy Counties are uninsured,43 and more than 82,000 do not have a regular health care provider.44 Children without health insurance receive fewer preventive services because they are less likely to have a regular doctor or a place they routinely

82,000 do not have a regu-

visit for health care – a regular medical home. Having a regular medical home leads to better health care

lar health-care provider.

Children and youth who do not have a regular medical home are more likely to rely on emergency

44

and better outcomes, because doctors can establish relationships with the children and their families. rooms for medical services – the most costly way to deliver health care and the one with the least continuity of care.45

STATE-FUNDED PLANS provide health-care coverage to many low-income families and children, but eligibility requirements leave many uncovered. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was created to cover children in low-income families that fall between Medicaid eligibility and coverage by private insurance. Kids Connections in Nebraska combines SCHIP and Medicaid to provide health-care coverage for children living in families at or below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). In 2006, Kids Connections served nearly 30 percent of all Nebraska children 18 years and under. In an effort to serve even more children in need, Kids Connection eligibility must be extended to 200 percent of FPL.

Task Force Recommendations To Increase Access to Health-Care Coverage: • Increase access to health insurance for uninsured children by expanding eligibility for Kids Connection. • Establish satellites of existing federally qualified health centers and expand non-traditional access to health care through mobile health and dental vans. • Advocate for behavioral health parity. • Implement best practice models that address specific needs of individual children and their families (e.g., American Association of Pediatrics Bright Futures Guidelines).

PROGRAMS THAT PROVIDE comprehensive, high-quality health care should be informed by research-based practices. The American Academy of Pediatrics has developed guidelines that outline an approach to provid-

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35

Characteristics of High-Quality Health Care According to guidelines developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, high-quality health care has the following characteristics: • They are accessible – the program is located in the child’s community and is affordable. • They are continuous – the child sees the same primary health-care provider from infancy through adolescence so the provider can assist with life challenges and transitions (e.g., to school and adult services). • They are comprehensive – the program is offered throughout the day and the week; includes prevention and intervention; and addresses medical, dental, behavioral and developmental needs. • They are family centered – providers recognize the important role of the family as primary caregiver, and they share information with parents and caregivers. • They are coordinated – information is centralized, and the program links families to supports and to educational and community-based services when needed. • They are compassionate – providers express and demonstrate concern for the well-being of the child and his or her family.

ing comprehensive, high-quality health-care services.46 Those guidelines are summarized in the box above and are included in the key recommendations of the Early Childhood Task Force.

Recommendation 8: Support Healthy Development through Developmental Screening and Prevention Developmental delays and disorders affect approximately 10 percent of young children. Delays 47

Chronic behavior problems, for

related to speech and language, motor development, social-emotional development and problem

example, are much more dif-

solving predict later learning and behavioral difficulties, making early identification critically important.

ficult to treat in adolescence

However, only about half of developmental delays are detected before children reach kindergarten.

48

EARLY INTERVENTION LIMITS the effects of developmental delays. Intervening early improves outcomes for children and reduces costs to society.49 For example, research has shown that early interventions can result in:

and become more costly as youth enter the juvenile justice system.

51

• A 14 percent reduction in special education placement later in childhood; • A 13 percent reduction in grade retention in school; and • A 6.5 point increase in IQ test scores.50 Furthermore, many problems are most amenable to intervention early in life. Chronic behavior problems, for example, are much more difficult to treat in adolescence and become more costly as youth enter the juvenile justice system.51 In addition to being screened for health, developmental and behavioral problems, children should be screened for elevated blood-lead levels. Early detection and intervention – especially between birth and age 5 – can prevent irreparable long-term neurological damage, related learning and behavior problems and lower achievement in school.52

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

NEBRASKA IS SIGNIFICANTLY UNDERSERVING children in need of early intervention services. National estimates suggest that 10 percent of all children under age 5 have a developmental delay or disorder, but far fewer children in Nebraska receive early intervention services. For instance, fewer than 2 percent of children ages 0-3 and fewer than 7 percent of children ages 3-5 receive early intervention services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Lead is also a concern in greater Omaha. In 2007, 3 percent of the general population under age 6 had elevated blood-lead levels. In targeted Superfund site ZIP Codes in Omaha, 5 percent of children under 6 had elevated blood-lead levels.53 These data highlight the need for systematic developmental screening of physical health – including screening for lead exposure and behavioral issues – before students enter school.

EARLY INTERVENTION REQUIRES appropriate screening. Developmental screening is defined as the systematic use of a validated screening tool to identify children who are likely to have a developmental delay or difficulty. Pediatricians and other healthcare providers play a significant role in identifying developmental delays and disorders, because they are the front line professionals who regularly see young children. However, only about half of doctors report systematically using a validated developmental screening instrument.54 Moreover, as noted earlier, many children do not have health insurance, access to a regular doctor or a regular medical home (a place where they routinely get medical care). Because of the lack of continuity in care, many communities have opted to bring developmental screening to children and families where they are –

Task Force Recommendations To Increase Prevention or Early Identification of Developmental and Health Difficulties: • Require mandatory lead screening, hearing and vision screening, and developmental and behavioral health screening for all children. • Adopt a community-wide best practice that provides developmental screening and appropriate referral to follow-up services through a “medical home.” • Promote breastfeeding. • Provide a health curriculum in schools. • Create an early screening hot line. • Undertake a public awareness campaign on the importance of screening and, if necessary, intervene early. • Ensure high-quality service and competent professionals in health care (e.g., implement American Academy of Pediatrics Bright Futures Best Practice Guidelines). • Provide training for doctors, licensed mental health professionals, teachers and providers to raise awareness about behavioral health problems. • Develop cultural awareness in professionals who work with young children and youth, and create ways to address barriers to programs and services (e.g., services for English learner and new immigrant populations).

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in child care programs and other community-based programs. Screening children’s homes and other environments for lead exposure – primary prevention screening – is another cost-effective approach to screening and is advocated by the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance and the Douglas County Health Department.55

APPROPRIATE DEVELOPMENTAL SCREENING should follow researchbased best practices. Although universal, regular developmental screening has been advocated widely, no consensus exists about the best ways to regularly screen all children. A number of different models are currently being used.56 All of them include the best practices listed at right.

Community Input

HIGHLIGHTS Helping Kids in Trouble Ranking of BBF Task Force Recommendations:

General Responses:

1. Provide better support for families with kids in trouble.

1. Assist families with parent education, parenting skills and home visits.

2. Develop coordinated community response to truancy.

2. Assist families of incarcerated persons; offer stronger re-entry programs for youth.

3. Provide incentives and options to improve attendance.

3. Provide true alternative programs, student incentives and leadership programs for youth.

4. Establish policies and procedures to improve attendance. 5. Create more places in the community to address behavior. 6. Develop more licensed behavioral health professionals.

4. Provide health care in schools, data on risky youth behavior and licensed mental health providers. 5. Provide early screening and more support for teens in trouble.

Recommendation 9: Increase Access to Behavioral Health Services in Schools and Communities for All Children from Infancy through Age 18.

37

Supporting Children’s Health and Development with Effective Developmental Screening Effective developmental screening practices have the following characteristics: • They are frequent and systematic. • They include the use of a well-validated developmental screening tool by a person who is trained to use the tool. • They include training for pediatricians, health-care providers, early-intervention specialists and early care and education (ECE) providers on the use and scoring of the tool. • They include mechanisms for addressing parental concerns and observations and for sharing results with parents in a culturally sensitive and timely manner. • They include a process for tracking referrals to follow-up care and services. • They include a process to refer young children for comprehensive, high-quality early childhood behavioral health services. • They are reimbursed by health insurance plans. • They are valued by practitioners, including physicians, ECE providers and early intervention specialists.

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH PROBLEMS affect many children and adolescents, and often impede academic progress. A child’s healthy social-emotional development provides the foundation for school readiness, academic success, health and overall well-being. Children and youth can exhibit a wide variety of behavioral disorders, including depression, conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, eating disorders, autism, substance abuse, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder and others. According to large-scale research studies, about 20 percent of children and adolescents have a disorder that impairs their ability to function effectively in school and in life.57

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Among high school students who have identified disabilities and are receiving services in special education classrooms, those with mental health/behavioral health problems are most likely to: • Receive failing grades.

• Have been arrested.

• Be the subject of disciplinary action.

• Have the highest dropout rates.58

For these reasons, addressing behavioral health needs is critical to making sure all youth succeed academically.

FAMILIES AND YOUTH FACE MANY BARRIERS to accessing behavioral health services.

Data from national studies suggest that more

Families seeking behavioral health services often face long waiting lists for services, confusion about

than 30,000 youth under

treatment if different providers recommend different treatment plans, and access and affordability

age 18 in Douglas and

issues. Although mental and behavioral health problems can affect any child or family, children and ad-

Sarpy Counties have a

olescents from low-income families have fewer resources to cope with these challenges. In addition,

diagnosable behavioral

whelm families as they try to coordinate multiple services.

health disorder, and 8,000 of them have a disorder that causes extreme func-

low-income families typically have multiple risk factors that increase negative outcomes and over-

THE AVAILABLE DATA TELL US that most of the youth who need intervention or treatment for a diagnosable disorder are not receiving services, either in the community or in the schools. Behavioral health challenges among youth range from mild disruptive behavior in the classroom

tional impairment in life,

that is handled by a counselor or school staff to severe behavior problems that result in expulsion from

learning or work.

school and sometimes residential placement or hospitalization for treatment. Data from national stud-

59

ies suggest that more than 30,000 youth under age 18 in Douglas and Sarpy Counties have a diagnosable behavioral health disorder, and 8,000 of them have a disorder that causes extreme functional impairment in life, learning or work.59 Despite the large number of children and adolescents estimated to have a mental health disorder or behavioral health problem, national studies estimate that as few as 30 percent of those who need treatment are receiving it.60 In Douglas and Sarpy Counties, this means that 21,000 young people who are in need of effective behavioral health services are not receiving them.

THE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH NEEDS of young children and youth are complex and require collaboration among multiple agencies and organizations. Understanding the behavioral health needs of children and youth in the two-county area is a major challenge. There is no one place where families can seek behavioral health services, and Nebraska lacks a centralized and coordinated data system to track service use in the state and the county. The lack of a well-coordinated system hampers efforts to address the behavioral health needs of children and youth. Further complicating these efforts is the fact that models that address the needs of young children, their families and child-care providers are different from models that bring behavioral health services to youth in school- and community-based settings. Some young children with behavioral health needs are served through early intervention services

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under IDEA and through special education services in the school districts. An effective way to reach more children is to bring services to young children through co-location – placing specialists where children are; for example, in ECE programs. Through co-location, children can receive screening, assessment and intervention ser-

Community Input

vices that are integrated

HIGHLIGHTS

into their daily experience.

Community Rankings of Building Bright Futures Task Force Recommendations Satisfaction with Services to Address Mental and Behavioral Issues

Satisfied Very Satisfied

havioral health services for older children and youth

12%

Neutral

is a challenge. Compared

6%

with other states, Nebras-

2%

81% of participants were very unsatisfied or unsatisfied with services available to address mental and behavioral issues.

Level of Support for Youth Behavioral Surveys

7%

and in out-of-home place-

delivery model, which

4%

would reduce reliance on

Against

3%

residential placement and

Strongly Against

4%

hospitalization, improve the

72% support or strongly support youth behavioral surveys.

functioning of children, and

How important is it to have social workers and mental health professionals in schools?

increase the use of commu-

2%

It’s a Bad Idea

1%

Not Very Important

2%

Somewhat Important Important

3. Programs should support parents and family members in addressing behavioral/mental health problems in young children.

adolescents in state care

Somewhat Against

It’s a Very Bad Idea

2. ECE programs should have access to a specialized behavioral health practitioner and/or services to address more severe behavioral problems.

served by a system-based

10%

Neutral

number of children and

1. Providers in early care and education programs must have sufficient training, knowledge and support to help children who present with behavioral problems.

ioral issues would be better

27%

Support

ka has a disproportionate

Three Goals of Early Childhood Behavioral Health Consultation Services:

ment.b, 61 Youth with behav-

45%

Strongly Support Somewhat Support

hood behavioral health Improving access to be-

37%

Unsatisfied

referred to as “early childconsultation services.”

44%

Very Unsatisfied

These services are typically

39

nity- and school-based services. For example, schoolbased services that use evidence-based practices are convenient and potentially

8%

effective ways to address

12% 75%

Very Important

87% of participants agreed that having social workers and mental health professionals in schools is important or very important.

behavioral health needs because schools have a long history of providing mental health and support

services to children and adolescents. By 2009, Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services 62

aims to have 70 percent of youth with behavioral challenges treated as outpatients in conjunction with family, school or community-based services.63 b

In 2005, 34 percent of Nebraska’s Medicaid expenditures for mental health/substance abuse services for children 20 years of age and younger were for residential services

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Task Force Recommendations To Increase Access to Behavioral Health Services in Schools and Communities: • Ensure high-quality early childhood education with wrap-around behavioral and physical health services. • Provide consultation regarding social-emotional development and behavioral health to ECE providers. • Increase access to and provision for comprehensive family and child behavioral health services (screening, identification and intervention). • Expand capacity, access and coordination of community- and school-based behavioral health services. • Create centers of excellence to attract and retain highly skilled professionals, foster professional networks throughout the community, and incubate innovative and effective practices in youth behavioral health. • Provide training for doctors, licensed mental health professionals, teachers and providers to raise awareness of behavioral health problems. • Develop cultural awareness in professionals who work with young children and youth, and create ways to address barriers to programs and services (e.g., services for English learners and new immigrant populations). • Invest in a public awareness campaign about behavioral health issues and risky behaviors. • Develop a centralized database of behavioral health services and providers to improve access to appropriate and high-quality services.

PROGRAMS TO PROVIDE behavioral health systems to young children and youth should be informed by research-based practices. Omaha needs a comprehensive approach that addresses the full mental health continuum – promotion of positive development, prevention, early identification and intervention or treatment – for all children and youth. Given the different needs of children and young people, efforts must be structured so that care includes age-appropriate interventions. Some key components of systems to provide early childhood and youth behavioral health services are described below. 64

Components of an Effective Early Childhood Behavioral Health System: • Ensures positive relationships among children, families and practitioners. • Implements preventive practices at the classroom or program level that target all children. • Offers training so providers become comfortable with strategies to effectively manage difficult behavior. • When necessary, involve trained early childhood behavioral health specialists to provide individual interventions either at a center or at the child’s home, depending on the child’s needs.

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Components of an Effective Youth Behavioral Health System: • Provides comprehensive behavioral health screening and assessment; identifies children and adolescents with behavioral problems and refers them to appropriate services. • Ensures that interventions and care are affordable to families. • Involves high-quality, well-trained mental health professionals. • Uses evidence-based practices. • Makes decisions based on data about outcomes. • Provides coordination across multiple agencies.

Recommendation 10: Equip Families to Support Healthy Child Development FAMILIES SHOULD BE the primary source of adult support in a child’s life. Families are children’s first teachers. For young children, positive parenting practices – including talking with children and reading books to them – and a home environment that supports learning and social-emotional development are associated with better outcomes in general and school readiness specifically. Having parents who are engaged in their education as advisors, advocates and decisionmakers is a key predictor of children’s academic achievement, regardless of socioeconomic status or ethnicity. Nurturing, stable and positive relationships promote school readiness and academic achievement by: • Helping children develop trust, empathy and compassion;

Having parents who are en-

• Supporting curiosity;

gaged in their education as ad-

• Building confidence;

visors, advocates and decision-

• Encouraging cooperation with others; and • Helping children persist with challenging tasks. 65

POSITIVE PARENTING BEHAVIORS are crucial to prepare children for learning and for life, and resources should be available to help people develop parenting skills.

makers is a key predictor of children’s academic achievement, regardless of socioeconomic status or ethnicity.

Certain parenting behaviors are critical for promoting physical, cognitive and social-emotional development, especially for young children. These behaviors include being nurturing and responsive, being emotionally and physically available, engaging in positive parent-child interactions, providing predictable routines, and promoting literacy and learning at home. Some parents and families exhibit these behaviors instinctively; others need support to do so. For example, in a national survey of children’s health and well-being, only about half (49 percent) of parents in Nebraska reported that they (or others) read to their child every day.66 For parents who are stressed or struggling with mental health issues, it is a challenge to provide a supportive home environment in which children thrive.67 Because no single approach works for all parents and families, several kinds of parenting programs

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Building Bright Futures board chairman Richard Holland discusses challenges with two-county audience. exist. They include home visiting, parenting classes, parent-child interaction groups, family resource centers, and information and resource-referral services. Home visitation programs are a unique model for supporting parents. They primarily involve families with younger children. Home visitation leads to more individual attention and relationship building between family and provider, giving parents a powerful tool to improve their children’s health and well-being.

Task Force Recommendations To Help Families Support Positive Child Development: • Involve parents, grandparents and other caregivers (including licensed care and informal family, friend and neighbor care) in developing parenting skills through home visitation, parenting programs and parent-child interaction groups. • Establish family resource centers to connect parents with community resources, parent education and home visiting. • Target home visitation services and care coordination for identified at-risk families (e.g., those in which the parents struggle with mental health problems). • Provide adult education/GED/ESL/life skills education for parents. • Provide parenting education and parent facilitators to teach parents to support their child’s academic achievement.

PROGRAMS THAT HELP FAMILIES support their children’s development should be grounded in effective practices. Parenting programs aimed at providing support and information enhance parents’ capacity and competence. These skills, in turn, lead to more positive parent-child interactions and, ultimately, to children’s enhanced social, emotional and cognitive development. High-quality programs that address barriers to providing optimal parenting do the following: • Effectively screen for parents’ potential mental health or substance abuse issues. • Provide counseling, job training and parenting support. • Connect families to the resources and services they need.

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• Take into account the diversity of families, the unique challenges that families face and the difficulty of managing multiple stressors. Home visiting programs can be particularly effective in supporting and educating parents about child development, and connecting families to services. Some components of effective home visiting programs are summarized in the box below.68

Home Visiting Programs Help Families Support Positive Development Home visiting programs that are diverse, but effective share some features, including the following: • Focus on parenting behaviors and practices that will influence children’s development. • Require active participation and full engagement of parents over an extended period. • Emphasize the development of a positive relationship between the home visitor and parent/ family members. • Employ experienced and well-trained staff. • Are connected to or embedded in a comprehensive package of services (for example, home visiting services to children who are also attending high-quality ECE programs). • Are implemented in communities that are receptive to information and support services delivered in the home. Home visiting programs that are sensitive to cultural and linguistic preferences may have greater success in serving families.

Recommendation 11: Promote More Mentoring Relationships YOUNG PEOPLE NEED support and care from adults outside their families. Stable, caring adults are a cornerstone of positive child and youth development. Through positive relationships with adults, children and youth experience a sense of physical and emotional safety, which is an essential component of healthy development. They also learn that they are valued and accepted by others. According to some experts, that sense of belonging is the single most important ingredient we can add into the lives of young people. The Search Institute, an organization that promotes healthy children and youth, recommends that youth receive sustained support from three non-parent adults. Involvement in positive social relationships and activities with non-parent adults has been associated with the following outcomes: • A decrease in risky behaviors. • Stronger communication skills and leadership experience. • Increased status and stature in the community. • Increased connectedness to school. • Improved competencies and self-esteem.69 An April 2007 article in The Omaha World-Herald called on readers to envision a community in which students had the guidance of mentors and other adults who stepped in when they were in danger of falling off track. Building Bright Futures has accepted this challenge. We believe that realizing this vi-

Mentoring Works After 18 months in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, “Littles” were: • 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs; • 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol; • 52 percent less likely to skip school; • More confident of their school performance; • One-third less likely to hit some one; and • Getting along better with their families. J. P. Tierney, J. B. Grossman, & N. L. Resch, Making a Difference: An Impact Study of Big Brothers Big Sisters (Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures, 1995).

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

sion will take a conscious effort to forge relationships between youth and caring adults. Whether the adult is an assigned mentor or a favorite coach, youth development worker, church member, teacher or school bus driver, our vision is for youth in Douglas and Sarpy Counties to know that adults care about them and are willing to provide the guidance to help them succeed.

GREATER OMAHA has a vibrant mentoring and youth development tradition, but we need more adults to form connections with our young people.

The Building Bright Futures After-school Mentor-

Greater Omaha is home to more than 75 formal mentoring organizations that serve about 3,000 children and youth. Tens of thousands of young people also attend after-school programs on a regular basis, where they have the potential to establish relationships with adult staff members. Countless

ing and Tutoring for Excel-

others enjoy supportive relationships with adults through other activities.

lence Task Force estimates

that 8,000 youth in Douglas and Sarpy Counties need extra guidance. Specific populations of youth in

that 8,000 youth in Douglas and Sarpy Counties need extra guidance.

The Building Bright Futures After-school Mentoring and Tutoring for Excellence Task Force estimates the two-county area who could be particularly vulnerable and in need of positive relationships with non-parent adults include the following: • 11,746 youth who live in subsidized housing supported by the Omaha and Douglas County Housing Authorities; • 2,153 foster children; • An estimated 39,144 students who are responsible for their own care after school; • 5,855 juveniles arrested in 2006; and • 3,210 teens who became pregnant in 2006.70 All of these children and youth could potentially benefit from having a mentor. A 2007 report prepared by the BBF After-school Mentoring and Tutoring for Excellence Task Force says that finding effective ways to recruit mentors on a large scale is one of the greatest challenges facing individual mentoring programs. After-school programs also have a difficult time recruiting and retaining highquality staff members; in fact, the task force reports that some local after-school programs are over their capacity in terms of staff/child ratios.

Task Force Recommendations To Promote Formal and Informal Mentoring: • Find 3,000 new mentors for at-risk students by 2010 through targeted mentoring recruitment. • Undertake a public awareness campaign about the importance of mentoring. • Strengthen the Midlands Mentoring Partnership. • Adopt quality standards for mentoring programs. • Create a resource directory of mentoring opportunities. • Help after-school agencies hire people who are informally working with, coaching and mentoring children in their neighborhoods. • Train youth from local neighborhoods and after-school programs to become future youth development professionals.

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PROGRAMS THAT INCLUDE formal and informal mentoring should be grounded in effective practices. High-quality mentors and after-school program staff have the skills and dispositions to forge supportive relationships with youth, so it is important to attract and retain these people. Some researchbased strategies for recruiting and retaining mentors and after-school staff are summarized below.71

Recruiting and Retaining Mentors and After-school Staff Mentors and after-school staff can be attracted and retained in the following ways: • Mentors should be given a choice of mentoring options tailored to mentors’ schedules and interests. • After-school staff should be offered wage and career ladders, scholarship programs, registries for tracking professional development and credentialing opportunities. • After-school staff should have opportunities for training linked to pathways of advancement and to compensation and benefit structures that will make it possible for staff to remain in the field. • Both mentors and after-school staff should have initial and ongoing training related directly to working with young people. Quality mentoring experiences will attract young people and mentors alike. As a way of ensuring quality, many of the area’s mentoring programs adhere to the National Mentoring Partnership’s Elements of Effective Practice,72 a set of guidelines developed by mentoring experts to help organizations provide high-quality mentoring experiences. The guidelines include specific recommendations for program design and planning, program management, program operations and program evaluation.

Recommendation 12: Expand Enrollment in After-school Programs PARTICIPATION IN CONSTRUCTIVE after-school activities helps young people avoid negative behaviors and prepares them for life. High-quality after-school programs offer a diverse array of activities that include tutoring and help with homework, academic enrichment activities, life skills and sex education programs, and arts or other cultural enrichment activities. These activities offer young people the opportunity to develop a wide range of competencies. Strong peer groups in an after-school program also provide children with support and structure for building self-esteem and learning to work cooperatively.73 Regular participation in social and cultural enrichment activities has been associated with numerous positive outcomes, including • Better attitudes about self, school and community; • Better school attendance and more time spent on homework; • Fewer delinquent and risky behaviors and greater resistance to peer pressure; • Improved social skills; • Greater civic involvement; • Increased creativity, fluency and originality in thinking; and • Better social integration into adult society.74

Extracurricular Activities Matter Students who spent no time in extracurricular activities, compared with those who spent 5-19 hours per week, were: • Six times more likely to drop out of school by their senior year; • Three times more likely to be suspended in high school; • Twice as likely to be arrested by their senior year; and • About 75 percent more likely to smoke cigarettes. B. Miller, Critical Hours: After-school Programs and Educational Success (Quincy, MA: Nellie Mae Education Foundation, 2003).

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Studies have shown that the children who gain the most from these programs are the ones who have the most to gain: low-income youth, youth from non-English-speaking families, students who underperform in school and young people who live in dangerous neighborhoods. However, students from higher income families are twice as likely as students from lower-income families to spend 5 or more hours a week in extracurricular activities.75

LOCAL AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS must serve more young people, because too many youth in the two-county area are unsupervised after school. Statewide, 31 percent of Nebraska youth are unsupervised after school. In the two-county area, that translates to 39,144 children.76 A 2006 survey conducted by the University of Nebraska at Omaha concluded that in the City of Omaha, more than 11,000 OPS students in grades K through eight – including roughly 2,800 students in grades K through four – were home without supervision after school. In that survey, parents with a family income of less than $50,000 were more likely to say that their child was home without adult supervision than parents with higher incomes.77 The survey also revealed that 19,041 youth in the City of Omaha live in geographic areas that are underserved by after-school programs.78 Because most after-school programs do not provide transportation, these young people face significant barriers to regular participation in the programs and are more likely to be unsupervised after school. The relatively low participation rates in youth programs hurt our community as a whole, because participation in constructive programs is associated with lower rates of negative behavior. That is why young people who are responsible for their own care after school and those who live in underserved areas are the prime targets of our efforts to expand enrollment in youth programs. They represent an unserved population because they are not regularly participating in after-school activities. In addition, as noted earlier, because they are unsupervised, they are more likely to perpetrate or be the victims of crime and to engage in risky behaviors.79

Community Input

HIGHLIGHTS Teen Rankings of BBF Task Force Recommendations Mentoring – Bridge-To-Success Students Do you have a mentor? Would you like a mentor? Yes

33% 67%

No

86%

Yes No

14%

Mentoring – Teen Summit (Washington Library) Do you have a mentor? Would you like a mentor? Yes No

33%

64%

Yes 67%

No

36%

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Task Force Recommendations To Increase the Number of Youth Served by High-Quality After-School Programs: • Expand access to safe, affordable and comprehensive youth development programs. • Expand youth violence prevention and gang rescue programs. • Offer more arts, recreation and life skills programs, as well as programs that expose young people to higher education options. • Develop art therapy programs, including programs that focus on the performing arts. • Establish teen centers. • Increase coordination and improve relationships between schools and service or care providers. • Provide transportation services for youth in need. • Increase access to schools for after-hours programming.

Community Input

HIGHLIGHTS Teen Rankings of BBF Task Force Recommendations How important is it that you have a job or the opportunity to make money while in school? Teen Summit – Washington Library

Bridge-To-Success Students

76%

Very Important

58%

Very Important

Important

9%

Important

18%

Somewhat Important

6%

Somewhat Important

18%

Not Very Important

6%

Not Very Important

Not Important At All

3%

Not Important At All

6% 0%

AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS should follow research-based practices. The youth development literature teems with principles of effective programming.80 These principles can be sorted into three broad categories: • Place. After-school providers need to create safe, warm and inviting places where children want to be and that are trusted by parents. • Program. Youth development programs are most effective when they include a wide range of structured options for academic, social and cultural enrichment. Programs should be attractive options that compete for the attention of youth and adolescents. • People. Well-designed programs offered in youth-friendly buildings fall flat unless they are

Effective Programming in the Arts The following are some specific features of high-quality arts programs: • They offer innovative and complex learning opportunities in the arts. • They facilitate direct connections between youth and professional artists.

delivered by caring and trained adults who have the capacity to engage children and youth.

• They provide opportunities to modify

The After-school Mentoring and Tutoring for Excellence Task Force emphasized the arts because

performances or products on the basis

after-school settings have become increasingly important venues for arts programming. Research has

of external review and critique.

provided some insight into how to structure after-school arts programs.81 Some effective practices are

• They have high-quality staff.

summarized in the box to the right.

• They encourage family and community member involvement.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

4. Ready for Work TODAY, BEING READY FOR WORK requires more skills and abilities than ever before. There has long been consensus among educators, career development specialists and employers that young people need to develop a broad range of skills to be ready for work.82 With advances in tech-

Middle school is not too early for students to begin thinking about potential careers and planning educational pathways to reach their career goals.

nology, increasing globalization of the workforce and other changes in the job market, most jobs require a complex and evolving set of skills. Being ready for work today means demonstrating basic skills – thinking skills and life skills – and being prepared to learn and develop as the workplace changes. According to a recent report from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, success in the future workforce will require mastery of the following: • Core subject – English, reading or language arts, math, science, foreign languages, civics, economics, government, arts, history and geography. • 21st-century content – Global awareness; financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy; civic literacy; and wellness awareness. • Learning and thinking skills – Critical thinking and problem solving, communication, creativity and innovation, collaboration, contextual learning, and information and media literacy. • Information and communications literacy – Using technology to learn, think critically, solve problems, use information, communicate, innovate and collaborate. • Life skills – Leadership, ethics, accountability, adaptability, personal productivity, personal responsibility, people skills, self-direction and social responsibility.83 Middle school is not too early for students to begin thinking about potential careers and planning educational pathways to reach their career goals. In high school, students need opportunities to pursue course work that is rigorous and relevant to their career aspirations. High school completion alone does not guarantee that youth will acquire the full range of skills needed for success in the 21st-century workforce. To advance beyond low-skill, low-wage jobs, all students need to acquire skills that will allow them to extend their education beyond high school. To enter career pathways that lead to viable employment, young people need to graduate from high school and then complete some form of postsecondary education or training.84

LOW EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT among young people in Omaha is a significant barrier to future employment and earnings potential. Among young people in Douglas and Sarpy Counties, as elsewhere, higher levels of educational attainment increase opportunities for employment and earning potential. The U.S. Census, American Community Survey for 2006 estimates that 31,206 of the 64,476 18- to 24-year-olds (48 percent) in Douglas and Sarpy Counties have a high school education or less. Census figures also show that low levels of educational attainment among young people translate into a lifetime of greatly reduced earnings potential (see chart on following page).85

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Douglas and Sarpy Counties Educational Attainment and Median Annual Earnings for 25 and Over Population $53,896 $43,014 $21,359 Less Than High School

$31,981

$25,547

High School

Some College or 2-Year Degree (AA)

4-Year Degree (BA)

Graduate or Professional Degree

Source: U.S. Census, 2006 American Community Survey.

Being Ready for Work: Needs and Challenges What Children Scope of the Challenge Need (Douglas and Sarpy Counties) Career 1,500 10th-graders (43 percent) in OPS expressed a awareness need for help in “making plans for after high school”. College and 4,651 Douglas/Sarpy public school students dropped career readiness out of school from 2003 to 2006. 12,182 Douglas/Sarpy 18- to 24-year-olds have not completed high school. Post-secondary 19,024 Douglas/Sarpy 18- to 24-year-old high school education and graduates have no post-secondary education. training

What’s Needed to Resolve the Problem Early career awareness. Strong career and technical education and work experience. Bridge programs from secondary to postsecondary education.

Sources: Omaha Public Schools Office of Research, 2007; U.S. Census, 2006 American Community Survey.

THE BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES task forces recommend career and vocational development to prepare Omaha youth for work. These recommendations include the following: • Recommendation 13: Emphasize early career awareness and career planning. • Recommendation 14: Strengthen career and technical education and work opportunities. • Recommendation 15: Develop programs to bridge the transition from high school to postsecondary education and training. In the remainder of this chapter, we will discuss these recommendations. For each recommendation, we provide a rationale for its importance, identify the scope of the problem or the target population in Douglas and Sarpy Counties, list the specific recommendations from the BBF task forces and summarize some effective practices related to the recommendations.

Recommendation 13: Emphasize Early Career Awareness and Career Planning YOUNG ADULTS who are ready for work in metropolitan Omaha will have good career opportunities. The Omaha area’s children and youth will be able to choose from among a wide variety of career opportunities. The Nebraska Department of Labor Occupational Projections estimates that the 10 occupations that will grow fastest from 2004 to 2014 are (in order of projected growth):

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

• Network systems and data communications analysts. • Physician assistants. • Computer software engineers (applications). • Home health aides. • Computer software engineers (systems software). • Medical assistants. • Dental hygienists. • Dental assistants. • Hazardous materials removal workers. • Network and computer systems administrators. Each of these occupations requires, at a minimum, post-secondary participation in a job certification program. Many require much lengthier post-secondary education.86 While those occupations will grow the fastest, other jobs will require the largest number of new workers. The list below includes the occupations projected to have the largest number of job openings in Nebraska from 2004 to 2014 (in order of the number of workers required): • Retail sales persons. • Cashiers and wait staff. • Food preparers. • Truck drivers and tractor-trailer drivers. • Registered nurses. • Farmworkers; crop, nursery and greenhouse laborers. • Customer service representatives. • Post-secondary teachers. • Janitors and cleaners. • Office clerks. Many of these jobs – such as those in the service sector and those involving physical la-

A High School Diploma May Not Be Enough to Get a Job

bor – may be available to high school graduates. But even those jobs will require high-level

A recent nationwide survey of employers

sitions. Many jobs on this list require substantial post-secondary education or training.

found that many employers plan to hire fewer job applicants who have only a high school diploma. At the same time, employers plan to increase hiring of 4-year college graduates and 2-year college/technical school graduates. Source: The Conference Board, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Corporate Voices for Working Families, & Society for Human Resource Management, 2006, Are They Really Ready for Work? Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce New York: The Conference Board.

skills (e.g., teamwork, problem solving and interpersonal skills) to move beyond entry-level po-

AWARENESS OF CAREER OPPORTUNITIES and personal career planning should begin early. Parents and children alike need to understand that rigorous academic preparation is needed for students to succeed in the 21st-century workplace, regardless of whether they choose careers that require a 4-year college education, plan to enroll in a 2-year technical college program, or plan to enter the workforce directly after high school.87 Elementary and middle school educators can help children develop an understanding of career opportunities and begin making personal career plans before they reach high school. This early start in career awareness and planning should motivate students, support their at-

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tachment to school and sustain their academic development. Moreover, helping students and their families understand the educational pathways that lead to future career opportunities – and helping them believe they can succeed in these pathways – will encourage students and their families to develop high expectations for educational attainment.

Student-Selected Areas of Need (OPS – PLAN 2006-2007) Need Area Making plans for after high school Improving study skills Improving mathematical skills Improving public speaking skills Improving writing skills Improving reading speed/comprehension Improving computer skills

Number of Students Expressing Need 946 858 792 770 594 550 396

Source: Omaha Public Schools Office of Research, 2007.

Task Force Recommendations To Support Early Career Awareness and Career Planning: • Introduce early career exploration activities in upper elementary school. • Conduct awareness activities in all 16 career clusters in middle school. • Give students the support they need to create personal learning plans. • Introduce career advising programs. • Give all students access to career counseling. • Introduce career exploration opportunities: – Leader lunches: Business and industry workers are invited to lunch with 10 to 15 students. – Online mentoring: Each student is paired with an online mentor. – In-school explorer posts: Businesses provide industry-specific projects or learning opportunities for students. – Student organizations: Students are encouraged to participate in appropriate student chapters and organizations relating to their career field. – Business tours: Students with similar interests visit four businesses in their career pipeline.

MANY STUDENTS EXPRESS A NEED for support in planning for life and work beyond high school. As part of the ACT PLAN test administered to students in Omaha Public Schools in the 10th grade, students are asked to identify areas of need. The need expressed most often among 10th-graders who took the survey in 2006 was for assistance in planning beyond high school.

PROGRAMS AND POLICIES to promote early career awareness and planning should be guided by research-based practices. Exemplary early career awareness and development programs share the features summarized in the box on the following page. 88

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Key Components of Early Career Awareness and Career Planning Programs Schools and teachers with an interest in developing early career awareness and career planning programs should do these things: • Create career awareness opportunities: visits to the classroom by professional members of the community, career talks, career fairs and similar activities. • Provide students with real-life and practical experiences, such as field trips to local workplaces to learn firsthand about various occupations. • Ensure that the program addresses work readiness skills. • Introduce students to information about the job market. • Provide students with opportunities to incorporate career information in related academic areas. • Make the program culturally responsive. • Maximize family involvement. • Invite interdisciplinary involvement and support. • Use well-trained and dedicated staff. • Promote individuality in the program, rather than making it “one size fits all.” • Incorporate technology.

Recommendation 14: Strengthen Career and Technical Education and Work Opportunities.

Making school more rel-

STUDENTS ARE MORE LIKELY to stay in school if coursework is engaging and related to work and career opportunities.

evant and engaging and

Making school more relevant and engaging and more connected to work and career opportunities

more connected to work

is an essential step to keep students from dropping out. Young people who drop of school report a vari-

and career opportunities is an essential step to keep students from dropping out.

ety of reasons for doing so, but nearly half (47 percent) of the high school dropouts who were included in the nationwide survey for the Silent Epidemic study reported that feeling bored and unmotivated by classes was a major factor in their decision to drop out. More than two-thirds (69 percent) said they would have worked harder in school if expectations had been higher.89

A BALANCE OF ACADEMIC RIGOR, career relevance and relationships with adults can lead to higher educational achievement. Bridging the gap between the world of school and the world of work requires the efforts of many sectors of the community. Business leaders and workers should become more connected with schools, sharing their experiences and mentoring youth. Educators can embrace new career-related content and hands-on approaches for connecting school to work. Parents should guide their children toward post-secondary options and become knowledgeable about the skills employers expect.

TOO MANY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS graduate without acquiring critical college or work readiness skills. There is no longer a meaningful distinction between being ready for college and being ready

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for work. The goals of equity and excellence require high expectations for knowledge and skills development for all students. Unfortunately, not all students who graduate from high school have acquired the skills and knowledge they need to be ready for either work or college. Researchers have estimated that only a third of high school graduates have the skills they need for college. Nationwide, about 40 percent of white high school graduates, 23 percent of African-American graduates and 20 percent of Latino graduates are ready for college.90

Task Force Recommendations To Provide Strong Career and Technical Education and Work Opportunities: • Create high school career academies that integrate academic and career/technical studies aligned with career pathways in industry sectors important to the Omaha economy. • Create a Business Advisory Council. • Create Small Learning Communities or Schools Within a School. Smaller learning environments in secondary schools allow teachers to work with fewer students and students to be well-known by their teachers and peers. • Offer academic courses integrated in a career cluster (where appropriate) to provide contextual, relevant learning.

Researchers have estimated that only a third of high school graduates have the skills they need for college. Nationwide, about 40 percent of white high school graduates, 23 percent

• Expand access and funding for dual credit, concurrent enrollment with post-secondary or state/ national certifications.

of African-American graduates

• Facilitate internships: All Career Academy students should have the opportunity to intern at a business related to their career field.

and 20 percent of Latino grad-

• Create opportunities for paid summer work with eligibility tied to school attendance.

uates are ready for college.

90

EMPLOYERS ARE INCREASINGLY SKEPTICAL about the work readiness skills of high school graduates, even for entry-level positions. A national consortium of workforce development organizations and major employers recently completed an in-depth study of the corporate perspective on the readiness of entrants into the U.S. workforce. The consortium conducted a national survey to collect employers’ perspectives on the work readiness skills of employees with differing levels of educational attainment. The majority of the employers responding to the survey said high school graduates were deficient in a number of critical work readiness skills.91

Employer Ratings of New Workers on Critical Work Readiness Skills by Level of Educational Attainment High School Graduates Written communications Professionalism/work ethic Critical thinking/problem solving Oral communications Two-year College/ Technical School Graduates Written communications Writing in English Information technology applications Four-year College Graduates Information technology applications

Deficient 81% 70% 70% 53%

Excellent – – – –

Deficient 47% 46% – Deficient –

Excellent – – 26% Excellent 46%

Source: The Conference Board, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Corporate Voices for Working Families, & Society for Human Resource Management, Are They Really Ready to Work? Employers’ Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce (New York: The Conference Board, 2006).

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

PROGRAMS AND POLICIES to provide career and technical education and work opportunities should be guided by research-based best practices. Several popular high school reform models that integrate academic and career/technical studies (Career Academies, First Things First, Talent Development High Schools) have common features that are directly related to their effectiveness in meeting five key challenges: 1. Creating a personalized and orderly learning environment. 2. Helping students who enter high school with poor academic skills. 3. Improving instructional content and pedagogy. 4. Preparing students for the world beyond high school. 5. Stimulating change.92 Some features of programs that meet these challenges are summarized in the box below.

Key Features of Programs That Integrate Academic and Career/Technical Studies: Career Academies • School-within-a-school structure.

If everyone needs an education through two years of college or its equiva-

• Family advocate system (faculty advisory program).

• Integrated academic and occupational curriculum.

• Instructional improvement efforts.

• Employers that provide career awareness activities and internships.

• Ninth Grade Success Academy.

Talent Development High Schools

First Things First

• Career Academies for students in grades 10 through 12.

• Four-year, theme-based small learning communities.

• Catch-up courses in reading and math for ninth-graders with low skills.

lent, then the nation has an obligation to provide a

Recommendation 15: Develop Programs to Bridge the Transition from High School to Post-secondary Education and Training

far more certain pathway

In today’s increasingly technical and information-based job market, a high school diploma is no lon-

to post-secondary success

ger an adequate credential for employment. All students need access to some kind of post-secondary

than it does now.

93

education and training to prepare for viable careers in the 21st century. Realizing the goal of post-secondary education for all will require a significant change in beliefs and practice, especially for students who were once labeled “not college material.” High schools must refocus their efforts to offer all students the opportunity to take a rigorous course of study that prepares them to enter a post-secondary environment. And families that previously might not have considered college will be challenged to provide their children with the supports – emotional, academic and financial – to prepare for and succeed in college.

POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION is a barrier for many. College is a daunting prospect, especially for first-generation college-going students, low-achieving

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55

students, and students who face financial constraints. The table below shows that fewer than half of the young adults in Douglas and Sarpy Counties (38 percent) have at least some college experience, and only 12 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Young Adult Educational Attainment

Douglas County Sarpy County Total

Douglas and Sarpy Counties (2006) Number of Some College Young Adults Less Than High School or Associate Ages 18-24 High School Graduate Degree 49,221 10,062 14,214 17,884 15,255 2,120 4,810 7,172 64,476 12,182 19,024 25,056

Bachelor’s Degree or Higher 7,062 1,153 8,215

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2006 American Community Survey.

In the Midwest, most students who intend to enroll in a 4-year college take the ACT. Nearly twothirds (65 percent) of 12th-graders in Douglas and Sarpy Counties took the ACT in 2006-07. Statewide, 77 percent of 12th-graders took the test. In Douglas and Sarpy Counties, proportionately fewer African-American, Native American and Latino 12th-graders took the ACT compared with white and Asian American students: 41 percent of Latino 12th-graders and 42 percent of African-American 12th-graders took it, compared with 61 percent of Caucasian 12th-graders. College readiness scores were also lower for Latino, African-American and Native American students; for instance, only 5 percent of African-Americans who took the test in Nebraska met all four benchmarks for college readiness, compared with 27 percent of Nebraska students overall. These ACT participation rates and scores suggest that Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans from greater Omaha will be under-represented in 4-year institutions.94

Participation in ACT Testing

Latino African-American Native American Caucasian Asian American

Douglas and Sarpy Counties Public Schools (2007) Number of Number of Percentage of Students in 12th-Graders 12th-Graders 12th Grade Taking the ACT Taking the ACT 541 224 41% 842 356 42% 43 21 49% 5,082 3,080 61% 191 122 64%

Source: Nebraska Department of Education, 2006-2007 State of the Schools Report (http://reportcard.nde.state.ne.us/Main/ Home.aspx).

Every year, Omaha Public Schools conducts an annual follow-up survey of that year’s graduating class. For students who graduated in 2006: • 64 percent attended colleges, universities, trade schools or work-related training in the fall after their graduation. This figure is slightly less than the national average of 69 percent. • 53 percent of students who were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch in high school were enrolled in post-secondary education, compared with 72 percent of full-price lunch students.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

Percent of Students Attending Post-Secondary Education in the Fall After Graduation 60%

68%

OPS students attended

N Males N Females N Total 70% 50%

Overall

Although 64 percent of

64%

74%

66%

Caucasian

61%

56%

47%

African American

56%

52%

Latino

Source: Omaha Public Schools, Follow-up of 2006 graduates (Omaha, NE: Author, 2007).

Although 64 percent of OPS students attended post-secondary education in the fall after their graduation, only 56 percent attended for a full academic year. Sixty-eight percent of the students who stopped

post-secondary education

attending did so for financial reasons. Most others stopped attending so they could work or address

in the fall after their grad-

a full freshman year of training or education were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch during high

uation, only 56 percent attended for a full academic year.

family matters, or because of poor academic performance. Only 29 percent of students who completed school. In contrast, 53 percent of students who did not attend post-secondary training during either semester or enrolled only in the fall semester were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch in high school.95

Community Input

HIGHLIGHTS Community Rankings of BBF Task Force Recommendations What keeps students from going to college? 75%

Finances 45%

Not knowing about scholarships 35%

Students think high school is enough Students take a break after high school, then never go Students discouraged by test and ACT requirements

15% 20%

Students don’t know anyone who experienced a 0% successful college experience

Helping Kids Succeed – Participant Generated Recommendations Bridge-to-Success Students 1. Create an after-school program with a career emphasis. 2. Find an alternative to suspending students so they do not fall further behind in their schoolwork. 3. Assess teacher performance to determine if teaching style is appropriate to the students they teach. 4. Make classes innovative, relevant and more challenging. 5. Assign teachers to activities who have a sincere interest in those activities. 6. Present career options in earlier elementary grades. 7. Provide more one-on-one after-school mentoring and tutoring. 8. Keep parents and guardians informed about student’s performance. 9. Provide more transportation. 10. Provide free/low-cost after-school or summer activities that stress academics.

(more)

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57

Community Input

HIGHLIGHTS

continued

Teen Rankings of BBF Task Force Recommendations How often do transportation issues keep you from getting to school? Teen Summit – Washington Library 28%

Very Often 15%

Often

10%

Once In A While

8%

Not Often

39%

Never

How safe do you feel at school? Bridge-To-Success Students Teen Summit – Washington Library Very Safe 0%

Very Safe

Safe 0%

Safe 58%

Neutral

7% 17% 37%

Neutral

Not Safe

21%

Not Safe

Don’t Feel Safe At All

21%

Don’t Feel Safe At All

13% 26%

How safe do you feel in your neighborhood? Bridge-To-Success Students Teen Summit – Washington Library Very Safe

14% 36%

Safe Neutral Not Safe Don’t Feel Safe At All

14%

Very Safe

19%

Safe

19% 29%

Neutral 22%

14%

Not Safe

4%

Don’t Feel Safe At All

29%

OPPORTUNITIES TO BEGIN post-secondary education while in high school smooth the transition to post-secondary education and training. A number of strategies have arisen in the past decade to bridge high school and post-secondary education so youth can be better prepared for today’s workforce. The American Youth Policy Forum identified four broad approaches to creating secondary/post-secondary learning options: 1. Dual enrollment – High school students take college courses for credit. Advanced placement is included in this option. 2. Tech prep – As part of a sequence of study in a technical field, students earn post-secondary credits that count toward a technical certificate. States receive federal tech prep grants under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technology Education Act. 3. Middle and early college high schools – High schools partner with institutions of higher education to provide a sequence of study that includes credit-bearing college courses. Students graduate from high school in 4 or 5 years with a number of college credits. They can earn an associate degree or the equivalent while in high school.

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

4. Programs serving disadvantaged youth – Community colleges or community-based organizations partner with school districts to offer opportunities for out-of-school or disadvantaged youth to take college-level coursework.96 For first-generation college students, lower-income students and lower-performing students, these kinds of programs bridge the gap between high school and post-secondary education and training in several ways. First, they ease some of the financial burden of higher education, because college tuition fees are usually paid for through the grant programs. Second, they challenge students with high expectations and rigorous coursework, which provides motivation to persist and succeed. And finally, by taking college courses, students come to believe that post-secondary education is appropriate for them.

Task Force Recommendations To Ensure That All Youth Have Opportunities for Post-secondary Education and Training: • Provide incentives for students to earn college credit or complete post-secondary coursework while in high school. • Recognize academic success that is related to readiness for college. • Provide scholarships to remove financial barriers to post-secondary education.

PROGRAMS TO LINK high school with post-secondary education and training should be guided by best practices. The body of evidence about the importance of integrating grades nine through 14 is growing. Some guiding principles related to program design are summarized in the box below. 97

Key Components of Programs That Bridge Secondary and Post-secondary Education Programs that enable high school students to take college courses should include the following: • Strong partnerships among institutions of higher education, high schools and school districts. • Agreement regarding the transferability of college credits. • Strategies for overcoming physical and logistical barriers between high schools and institutions of higher education. • Sustainable strategies for covering the costs of college tuition, fees and textbooks. • Cohorts of high school students taking college courses. • Opportunities for students to take non-credit-bearing courses before credit-bearing courses. • Extensive supports for students who are enrolled in high school and college courses.

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59

5. Footnotes 1

The information in these paragraphs came from the Nebraska Department of Education (http://reportcard.nde.state.ne.us/Main/Home.aspx), the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data (http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/) and the U.S. Census Bureau, 2006 American Community Survey (http://www. census.gov/acs/www/).

2

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.). (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school: Expanded edition. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

3

Shonkoff, J. P., & Phillips, D. A. (Eds.). (2000). From neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Research Council, Institute of Medicine. Belsky, J., Vandell, D. M., Burchinal, M., Clark-Stewart, K. A., McCartney, K., & Owen, M. T. (2007). Are there long term effects to early child care? Child Development, 78, 681-701.

readiness in the ECLS-K: Predictions of academic, health, and social outcomes in first grade. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 21, 431-454. 8

See Belfield, C. R., & Levin, H. M. (Eds.). (2007). The price we pay: Economic and social consequences of inadequate education. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution Press.

9

Lee, V. E., & Burkham, D. T. (2002). Inequality at the starting gate: Social background differences in achievement as children begin school. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.

10

Balfanz, R. (2007). What your community can do to end its drop-out crisis: Learnings from research and practice. Paper presented at the National Summit on America’s Silent Epidemic, Washington, DC, May 9, 2007.

11

West, J., Denton, K., & Germino-Hausken, E. (2000). America’s kindergartners. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

12

Nebraska Health and Human Services System. (2006). Nebraska Health and Human Services System 2006 annual report. Lincoln, NE: Author.

West, J., Denton, K., & Germino-Hausken, E. (2000). America’s kindergartners. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. 4

Balfanz, R., Herzog, L., & MacIver, D. (2006). Preventing student disengagement and keeping students on the graduation path in urban middle-grade schools: Early identification and effective interventions. Educational Psychologist, 42, 223-235.

Personal communication, Sandra Scott, DHHS, November, 15, 2007. 13

Bernstein, J., Brocht, C., & Space-Aguilar, M. (2000). How much is enough? Basic family budgets for working families. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.

14

Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. (2006). America’s children in brief: Key national indicators of well-being, 2006. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Table POP8.A, Child Care: Percentage of Children from Birth through Age 6, Not Yet in Kindergarten, by Type of Care Arrangement and Child and Family Characteristics, 1995 and 2001. Available at www.child stats.gov/americaschildren06/tables.

15

Cost, Quality, and Child Outcomes Study (1995). Cost, quality, and child outcomes in child care centers. Public Report (2nd. ed.). Denver, CO: University of Colorado.

Biancarosa, G., & Snow, C. E. (2004). Reading Next: A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy. A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Available at www.all4ed.org/ publications/ReadingNext/ReadingNext.pdf. 5

Stanovich, K. E. (1986). Matthew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 360-406.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Early Child Care Research Network (Ed.) (2005). Child care and child development: Results from the NICHD study of early child care and youth development. New York: The Guilford Press.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at www.nichd.gov/publications/nrppubskey.cfm.

Peisner-Feinberg, E. S., Burchinal, M. R., Clifford, R. M., Culkin, M. L., Howes, C., Kagan, S. L., et al. (2001). The relation of preschool child-care quality to children’s cognitive and social developmental trajectories through second grade. Child Development, 72, 1534-1553.

National Math Panel. (2008). Foundations for success: The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. 6

Balfanz, R., Herzog, L., & MacIver, D. (2006). Preventing student disengagement and keeping students on the graduation path in urban middle-grade schools: Early identification and effective interventions. Educational Psychologist, 42, 223-235.

16

Biancarosa, G., & Snow, C. E. (2004). Reading Next: A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy. A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Available at www.all4ed.org/ publications/ReadingNext/ReadingNext.pdf. Hammond, C., Linton, D., Smink, J., & Drew, S. (2007). Dropout risk factors and exemplary programs: A technical report. Clemson, SC: National Dropout Prevention Center.

Biancarosa, G., & Snow, C. E. (2004). Reading Next: A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy. A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education. Available at www.all4ed.org/ publications/ReadingNext/ReadingNext.pdf. 17

Southern Regional Education Board. (2004). Using rigor, relevance, and relationships to improve student achievement: How some schools do it: 2004 outstanding practices. Atlanta, GA: Author.

Hair, E., Halle, T., Terry-Humen, E., Lavelle, B., & Calkins, J. (2006). Children’s school

National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008). Foundations for success: The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Balfanz, R., Herzog, L., & MacIver, D. (2006). Preventing student disengagement and keeping students on the graduation path in urban middle-grade schools: Early identification and effective interventions. Educational Psychologist, 42, 223-235.

Harvey, J., & Housman, N. (2004). Crisis or possibility? Conversations about the American high school. Washington, DC: National High School Alliance. 7

National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at www.nichd.gov/publications/nrppubskey.cfm.

18

National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching

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BUILDING BRIGHT FUTURES

children to read. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at www.nichd.gov/publications/nrppubskey.cfm. 19

Effective Practices Collection, Corporation for National and Community Service site: http://nationalserviceresources.org/epicenter/index.php. 28

Allington, R. L., & Walmsley, S. A. (Eds.). (2007). No quick fix, the RtI edition. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Metropolitan Child Advocacy Coalition. (2001). Truancy and excessive absenteeism: A best practices manual for schools. Omaha, NE: Author.

National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008). Foundations for success: The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

Baker, M. L., Sigmon, J. N., & Nugent, M. E. (2001) Truancy reduction: Keeping students in school. Washington, DC: Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Balfanz, R., Herzog, L., & MacIver, D. (2006). Preventing student disengagement and keeping students on the graduation path in urban middle-grade schools: Early identification and effective interventions. Educational Psychologist, 42, 223-235.

National Center for School Engagement. (2006). Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention evaluation of the Truancy Reduction Demonstration Program: King County, Washington, successfully reduces unexcused absences. Denver, CO: Author. Available at www.schoolengagement.org/TruancypreventionRegis try/Admin/Resources/Resources/KingCountyWashingtonSuccessfullyReduces UnexcusedAbsences.pdf.

National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008). Foundations for success: The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at www.nichd.gov/publications/nrppubskey.cfm. Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., & Vaughn, S. (Eds.). (2008). Response to intervention: A framework for reading education. Newark, DE: International Reading Association. NASD cite on RtI. National Mathematics Advisory Panel. (2008). Foundations for success: The final report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.

National Center for School Engagement. (2005). Jacksonville, Florida, case study: Evidence of effectiveness in reducing truancy. Denver, CO: Author. Available at www.schoolengagement.org/TruancypreventionRegistry/Admin/Resources/ Resources/JacksonvilleFLEvidenceofEffectivenessintheEarlyYearsoftheTruancy ArbitrationProgram.pdf. 29

Romero, M., & Lee, Y. (2007). A national portrait of chronic absenteeism in the early grades. New York: National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University. Retrieved February 25, 2008, from http://nccp.org/publications/pdf/text_771. pdf.

30

Balfanz, R. (2007). What your community can do to end its drop-out crisis: Learnings from research and practice. Paper presented at the National Summit on America’s Silent Epidemic, Washington, DC, (May 9, 2007).

20

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council for Exceptional Children, Council for Learning Disabilities, Division of Learning Disabilities, International Dyslexia Association, International Reading Association, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, National Association of School Psychologists, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Education Association, & School Social Work Association of America. (2006). New Roles in Response to Intervention: Creating Success for Schools and Children. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

21

22

23

Allensworth, E. M., & Easton, J. Q. (2007). What matters for staying on track and graduating in Chicago public high schools: A close look at course grades, failures, and attendance in the freshman year. Chicago: University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. 31

Balfanz, R. (2007). What your community can do to end its drop-out crisis: Learnings from research and practice. Paper presented at the National Summit on America’s Silent Epidemic, Washington, DC, (May 9, 2007).

32

Balfanz, R. (2007). What your community can do to end its drop-out crisis: Learnings from research and practice. Paper presented at the National Summit on America’s Silent Epidemic, Washington, DC, (May 9, 2007).

33

Balfanz, R. (2007). What your community can do to end its drop-out crisis: Learnings from research and practice. Paper presented at the National Summit on America’s Silent Epidemic, Washington, DC, (May 9, 2007).

Farbman, D., & Kaplan, C. (2005). Time for a change: The promise of extended-time schools for promoting student achievement. Boston: Massachusetts 2020.

34

National Association of Secondary School Principals. (2006). Breaking ranks in the middle: Strategies for leading middle level reform. Reston, VA: Author.

Lauer, P. A., Akiba, M., Wilkerson, S. B., Apthorp, H. S., Snow, D., & Martin-Glenn, M. L. (2006). Out-of-school time programs: A meta-analysis of effects for at-risk students. Review of Educational Research, 76, 275-313.

35

National Association of Secondary School Principals. (2006). Breaking ranks in the middle: Strategies for leading middle level reform. Reston, VA: Author.

36

Martin, N. & Halperin, S. (2006). Whatever it takes: How twelve communities are reconnecting out-of-school youth. Washington, DC: American Youth Policy Forum, p. 164.

37

Hoye, J. D., & Sturgis, C. (2005). The alternative pathways project: A framework for dropout reduction and recovery. Chicago: Youth Transitions Funders Group. Available at www.ytfg.org/documents/AltPathv.7.7Julyfin.pdf.

38

Balfanz, R. (2007). What your community can do to end its drop-out crisis: Learnings from research and practice. Paper presented at the National Summit on America’s Silent Epidemic, Washington, DC, (May 9, 2007).

39

Hoye, J. D., & Sturgis, C. (2005). The alternative pathways project: A framework for

Farbman, D., & Kaplan, C. (2005). Time for a change: The promise of extended-time schools for promoting student achievement. Boston: Massachusetts 2020. Alexander, K. L., Entwisle, D. R., & Olson, L. S. (2001). Schools, achievement, and inequality: A seasonal approach. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 23(2), 171-191. Alexander, K. L, Entwisle, D. R., & Olson, L. S. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review, 72(2), 167-180

24

25

Alexander, K. L, Entwisle, D. R., & Olson, L. S. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review, 72(2), 167-180.

26

Data sources for these calculations include enrollment and assessment results reported in the Nebraska Department of Education 2006-2007 State of the schools report: A report on Nebraska public schools. Available at http://reportcard.nde. state.ne.us.

27

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (n.d.) Tool kit for creating your own truancy reduction program. Washington, DC: Author.

U.S. Department of Education. (1997). Evidence that tutoring works. Washington, DC: Author. Available at www.ed.gov/inits/americareads/resourcekit/miscdocs/ tutorwork.html.

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Thomson, G. O., Raab, G. M., & Hepburn, W. S. (1996). Blood-lead levels and children’s behavior: Results from Edinburgh lead study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 30, 515-528.

dropout reduction and recovery. Chicago: Youth Transitions Funders Group. Available at www.ytfg.org/documents/AltPathv.7.7Julyfin.pdf. 40

America’s Promise. (2007). Every child, every promise: Turning failure into action. Alexandria, VA: Author.

53

Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance. Lead poisoning in Omaha. Presentation on August 29, 2007, in Omaha, NE.

54

Hupfeld, K. (2007). A review of the literature: Resiliency skills and dropout prevention. Denver, CO: ScholarCentric.

Sices, L., Feudtner, C., McLaughlin, J., et al. (2003). How do primary care physicians identify young children with developmental delays? A national survey. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 24, 409-417.

55

Kahne, J., Nagaoka, J., & Brown, A. (2001). Assessing after-school programs as contexts for youth development. Youth & Society, 32, 421-446.

Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance. Lead Poisoning in Omaha, Presentation on August 29, 2007, in Omaha, NE.

56

Pinto-Martin, J. A., Dunkle, M., Earls, M., Fliedner, D., & Landes, C. (2005). Developmental stages of developmental screening: Steps to implementation of a successful program. American Journal of Public Health, 95, 6-11.

Halpern, R., Barker, G., & Mollard, W. (2000). Youth programs as alternative spaces to be: A study of neighborhood youth programs in Chicago’s West Town. Youth & Society, 31, 469-506.

Rothstein, R., & Wilder, T. (2007). Beyond educational attainment: A multifaceted approach to examining economic inequalities. In C. Belfield & H. Levin (Eds.). The price we pay: Economic and social consequences of inadequate education (pp. 21-47). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

Fine, A., & Mayer, R. (2006). Beyond referral: Pediatric care linkages to improve developmental health. New York: The Commonwealth Fund. McCann, C. E., & Yarbrough, K. (2006). Snapshots: Incorporating comprehensive developmental screening into programs and services for young children. Chicago: Ounce of Prevention Fund.

Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents. Available at www. search-institute.org/assets. 41

42

Cunha, F., & Heckman, J. J. (2006). Investing in our young people. Report prepared for America’s Promise, The Alliance for Youth. Chicago: University of Chicago. The full report is available at www.americaspromise.org. Currie, J. (2005). Health disparities and gaps in school readiness. Future of Children, 15, 117-138.

43

Voices for Children in Nebraska. (2007). Kids count in Nebraska: 2007 report. Omaha, NE: Author.

44

Nebraska National Survey of Children’s Health (2005). Parent report survey. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control. Available at www.cdc.gov/nchs/about/ major/slaits/nsch.htm

45

Dubay, L., & Kenney, G. (2000). Health care access and use among low-income children: Who fares best? Health Affairs, 20, 112-121.

46

Bronheim, S., & Tonniges, T. (2004). Strengthening the community system of care for children and youth with special health care needs and their families: Collaboration between health care and community service systems. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development.

47

61

Sices, L. (2007). Developmental screening in primary care: The effectiveness of current practice and recommendations for improvement. New York: The Commonwealth Fund.

57

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1999). Mental health: A report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: Author. Available at www.surgeongeneral. gov/library/mentalhealth/home.html.

58

See Wagner, M., Marder, C., Blackorby, J., Cameto, R., Newman, L., Levine, P., & Davies-Mercier, E. (Eds.). (2003). The achievements of youth with disabilities during secondary school: A report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.

59

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1999). Mental health: A report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: Author. Available at www.surgeongeneral. gov/library/mentalhealth/home.html.

60

Kutash, K., Duchnowski, A. J., & Lynn, N. (2006). School-based mental health: An empirical guide for decision-makers. Tampa, FL: The Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, Department of Child and Family Studies.

61

Children’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse: State Infrastructure Grant. Presentation September 12, 2006. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from www.hhs.state. ne.us/med/sig/docs/overview9-12-06.pdf.

62

Kutash, K., Duchnowski, A. J., & Lynn, N. (2006). School-based mental health: An empirical guide for decision-makers. Tampa, FL: The Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, Department of Child and Family Studies.

Huffman, L. C., Mehlinger, S. L., Kerivan, A. S., Cavanaugh, D.A., Lippitt, J., & Moyo, O. (2000). Off to a good start: Research on the risk factors for early school problems and selected federal policies affecting children’s social and emotional development and their readiness for school. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina.

63

48

American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Children with Disabilities. (2001). Developmental surveillance and screening of infants and young children. Pediatrics, 108, 192-196.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (2007). LB 542 implementation report. Lincoln, NE: Author. Available at www.dhhs.ne.gov/beh/mh/LB542. pdf.

64

49

Guralnick, M. J. (Ed.). (1997). The effectiveness of early intervention. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

Kutash, K., Duchnowski, A. J., & Lynn, N. (2006). School-based mental health: An empirical guide for decision-makers. Tampa, FL: The Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, Department of Child and Family Studies.

50

Anderson, L. M., Shinn, C., Fullilove, M.T., et al. (2003). The effectiveness of early childhood development programs: A systematic review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 24, 32-46.

UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools. (2006). The current status of mental health in schools: A policy and practice analysis. Los Angeles: Author. Available at http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu.

51

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Needleman, H. L., Schell, A., Bellinger, D., Leviton, A., & Allred, E. (1990). The longterm effects of low doses of lead in childhood: An 11-year follow-up report. New England Journal of Medicine, 322, 83-88.

Cohen, E., and Kaufman, R. (2005). Early childhood mental health consultation. DHHS Pub. No. CMHS-SVP0151. Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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orienting, and first year training of afterschool staff. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from www.niost.org/publications/cross_cities_brief2.pdf.

Brooks-Gunn, J., & Markman, L. (2005). The contribution of parenting to ethnic and racial gaps in school readiness. The Future of Children, 15, 139-168.

Walker, G. (2007). Mentoring, policy, and politics. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from www.ppv.org/ppv/publications/ assets/224_publication.pdf.

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Knitzer, J., & Lefkowitz, J. (2006). Helping the most vulnerable infants, toddlers, and their families. New York: National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University. Knitzer, J., Theberge, S., & Johnson, K. (2008). Reducing maternal depression and its impact on young children. New York: National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University. 68

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Gomby, D. S. (2005). Home visitation in 2005: Outcomes for children and parents. Invest in Kids Working Paper No. 7. Washington, DC: Committee for Economic Development.

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Zercher, C., & Spiker, D. (2004). Home visiting programs and their impact on young children. In R. E. Tremblay, R. G. Barr, & R. D. Peters (Eds.), Encyclopedia on early childhood development (pp. 1-8). Montreal, Quebec: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development.

Halpern R. (1992). The role of afterschool programs in the lives of inner-city children: A study of the Urban Youth Network. Child Welfare. 71(3), 81-95.

Olds, D., Hill, P., Robinson, J., Song, N., & Little, C. (2000). Update on home visiting for pregnant women and parents of young children. Current Problems in Pediatrics, 30, 109-141.

Halpern, R. (2002). A different kind of child development institution: The history of afterschool programs for low-income children. Teachers College Record. 104(2), 178-211.

Eccles, J. S., & Gootman, J. A. (2002). Community programs to promote youth development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

McLaughlin, M. W. (2000). Community counts: How youth organizations matter for youth development. Washington, DC: Public Education Network. (ERIC Document Reproduction Services No. 422 900).

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Miller, B. M. (2003). Critical hours: Afterschool programs and educational success. Quincy, MA: Nellie Mae Education Foundation. Available at www.nmefdn.org.

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Quinn J. (1999). Where need meets opportunity: Youth development programs for early teens. The Future of Children. 9(2), 96-116.

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Dennehy, J., & Noam, G. (2005). Evidence for action: Strengthening afterschool programs for all children and youth: The Massachusetts out-of-school time workforce. Boston: Achieve Boston. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from www.niost.org/ publications/Evidence%20for%20Action.pdf.

Voices for Children in Nebraska. (2007). Kids count in Nebraska: 2007 report. Omaha, NE: Author. Available at www.voicesforchildren.com. 77

Furano, K., & Chavez, C. (1999). Combining paid service and volunteerism: Strategies for effective practice in school settings : A spectrum of service. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures.

Deichert, J., Rolf, K., & Smith, R. L. (2007). 2006 Omaha youth afterschool needs assessment. Report prepared for the Mayor’s Office, City of Omaha. Omaha, NE: University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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Grossman, J. B., & Furano, K. (2002). Making the most of volunteers. Philadelphia: Public/Private Ventures. Retrieved February 27, 2008, from www.ppv.org/ppv/ publications/assets/152_publication.pdf.

Deichert, J., Rolf, K., & Smith, R. L. (2007). 2006 Omaha youth afterschool needs assessment. Report prepared for the Mayor’s Office, City of Omaha. Omaha, NE: University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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Herrera, C. (2004). School-based mentoring: A closer look. Philadelphia: Public/ Private Ventures. Jucovy, L. (2001). Recruiting mentors: A guide to finding volunteers to work with youth: Technical assistance packet #3. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Lab. Available at http://www.nwrel.org/mentoring. Surr, W. B. (2001).Ready to roll: Five cities share their experience with recruiting,

Beck, E. L. (1999). Prevention and intervention programming: Lessons from an afterschool program. The Urban Review, 31, 107-124.

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2008 COMMUNITY ACTION PLAN

Halpern, R., Barker, G., & Mollard, W. (2000). Youth programs as alternative spaces to be: A study of neighborhood youth programs in Chicago’s West Town. Youth & Society, 31, 469-506.

for all? Reinvigorated career and technical education? Or multiple pathways to both? Los Angeles: UCLA. 88

Gerber, M., Shanley, J., & O’Cummings, M. (n.d.). Answering the question …What attributes are important in the development and implementation of an early career awareness and career development program? Elementary & Middle Schools Technical Assistance Center (EMSTAC), EMSTAC Extra. Available at http://www. emstac.org/resources/transition.pdf.

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Bridgeland, J. M., DiIulio, J. J., Jr., & Morison, K. B. (2006). The silent epidemic: Perspectives of high school dropouts. Washington, DC: Civic Enterprises, LLC.

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Greene, J. P., & Winters, M. A. (2005). Public high school graduation and collegereadiness rates: 1991:2002. New York: Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.

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Herlihy, C. M., & Quint, J. (2006). Emerging evidence on improving high school student achievement and graduation rates: The effects of four popular improvement programs. Washington, DC: National High School Center.

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Catterall, J. S., Chapleau, R., & Iwanga, J. (2000). Involvement in the arts and human development: General involvement and intensive involvement in music and theater arts. In E. B. Fiske (Ed.), Champions of change: The impact of the arts on learning (pp. 1-18). Washington, DC: The Arts Education Partnership and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Heath, S. B. (2001). Three’s not a crowd: Plans, roles, and focus in the arts. Educational Researcher, 30 (7), 10. Heath, S. B., & Roach, A. (2000). Imaginative actuality: Learning in the arts in the non-school hours. In E. B. Fiske (Ed.), Champions of change: The impact of the arts on learning (pp. 20-34). Washington, DC: The Arts Education Partnership and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Weitz, J. (1996). Coming up taller: Arts and humanities programs for children and youth at risk. Washington, DC: President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

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Hoye, J. D. & Sturgis, C. (2005). The alternative pathways project: A framework for dropout reduction and recovery. Chicago: Youth Transitions Funders Group. Available at www.ytfg.org/documents/AltPathv.7.7Julyfin.pdf.

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Oakes, J., & Saunders, M. (2007). Reforming California’s high schools. College prep

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Quint, J. (2006). Meeting five critical challenges of high school reform: Lessons from research on three reform models. New York: MDRC. 93

Hoffman, N., Vargas, J., Venezia, A., & Miller, M. S. (Eds.). (2007). Minding the gap: Why integrating high school with college makes sense and how to do it. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

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Nebraska Department of Education for local data and ACT website (www.act. org/news/data/07/states.html) for statewide participation rates and scores.

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Omaha Public Schools. (2007). Follow-up of 2006 graduates. Omaha, NE: Author.

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Lerner, J. B., & Brand, B. (2007). Secondary-post-secondary learning opportunities: Some promising practices. In N. Hoffman, J. Vargas, A. Venezia, & M. S. Miller, (Eds.). (2007). Minding the gap: Why integrating high school with college makes sense and how to do it (pp. 159-164). Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

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Hoffman, N., Vargas, J., Venezia, A., & Miller, M. S. (Eds.). (2007). Minding the gap: Why integrating high school with college makes sense and how to do it. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. American Institutes for Research (2007). Evaluation of the Early College High School Initiative: Select topics on implementation. Washington, DC: Author.

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Building Bright Futures

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Burlington Building

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1004 Far nam Street

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Suite 102

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Omaha, Nebraska 68102

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BBF Community Action Plan  

BBF Community Action Plan

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