Essay:Draft Conservapedia Application to Become SES Provider

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This is a working draft of an application by Conservapedia to become an SES provider.

In New Jersey, there are seven key parts to the application for assessment, in addition to absolute requirements.[1]

For a new applicant such as Conservapedia, there are two parts to the application: Parts I and II. Part I concerns completion of mandatory requirements, while Part II is based on a point system with 98 out of 140 total points needed to obtain approval. (Part III applies only to renewal applications.)

Part I (mandatory provisions):
  • Section A (identification info)
  • Section B (geographic service area)
  • Section C (academic/instructional information)
  • Section D (recruitment of students - 300 character limit)
  • Section E (statement of qualifications and effectiveness - 300 character limit)
  • Section F (fees, which can be a sliding scale)
  • Section G (attaching business documentation)

Part II consists of the program proposal, and it has several sections as explained below:

Contents

Section A

Alignment to the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards (CCCS)[2] and the district's instructional programs (40 points maximum)

The courses provided by Conservapedia include:

  • U.S. History
  • World History
  • American Government
  • Writing
  • Economics

In addition, courses can be easily developed to address:

  • pre-college mathematics
  • pre-college science
  • reading
  • grammar

15 points

Describe how the services offered are aligned with language arts literacy, reading, science and mathematics standards as outlined in the NJ CCCS. Cite examples of specific standards and elements of the program.

Our program reinforces the ideas addressed in a given academic program that a student experiences during the course of a regular day with its emphasis on facts and concepts clearly outlined in the NJ CCCS. It is thereby complementary within the truth that it addresses and assists in the instruction regarding what is already contained within the district's prevailing instructional program. Some illustrations thereof are as follows:
In the context of World History, topics such as the Scientific Revolution to European society are demanded by the NJ CCCS to be addressed in the appropriate social studies course. Whereas the framework implemented by means of the standard concentrates on the related education, our program helps realize a more thorough understanding of said information via idea-oriented lectures and homework. By operating in compliance with the model set forth by the NJ CCCS, our program tackles similar curricula complementing existing courses with a perspective that is not only involved in detail but in concept. The result is that a student will not only be able to know, for example, who Galileo was, but be capable of dissecting the issues concerned with him and of analyzing the relevance of the discussion. The student will be better equipped to continue his or her education in World History.
Another example of this link is in American History. The NJ CCCS clearly stipulates that students should be educated on the origin and development of the political parties, the Federalists, and the Democratic Republicans. Our program not only goes into detail about this development, but discusses the potential need for parties and encourages students to grow in understanding through inquiry and discussion in reference to that development. Additionally, the homework continues this trend by not only asking for information related to these events but by asking students to analyze and inquire regarding the perceived and real need for these parties. The students will find it easier to discuss the topic of these political parties by identifying historical persons and positions with them, and by being required to think on these topics the students will find themselves more competent in addressing them in the everyday educational format.

(Should more detail and perhaps more length be added to this?)

15 points

Demonstrate a clear link between the academic program that a student experiences during the regular school day and the instruction of the SES program provided. Explain how your program complements the district’s prevailing instructional program.

5 points

Describe specific methods and strategies for serving eligible students from special populations such as students with learning disabilities, English Language Learners, etc.

Our program has included many students having learning disabilities. We make the materials straightforward and as logical as possible to help those students gain knowledge and confidence. Specifically, a special effort is made to identify what is hindering the learning process. If the student is having difficulty reading, for example, then special attention is focused on that deficiency until it is overcome. A textbook entitled "Turbo Reader" is used to augment a student's reading ability, and this was used with an English Language Learner with success.
Enhancing motivation is essential for overcoming other obstacles to learning, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Several students affected by this obstacle have overcome it with the straightforward teaching approach used by this program.

5 points

Describe the organizational structure of service delivery (location, supervision, staff). In this section, include a typical schedule for SES. The schedule must be included for any program that exceeds three consecutive hours of instruction in one time period. (Do not include “snack time”.)

Service delivery consists of a two-hour program with a break halfway. The program includes time for discussion and debate, but not "snack time." The planned location will be at the public school where the students are located.
A typical schedule would be to meet every Tuesday afternoon at the participating public school shortly after the end of the official day. The students need a short break before the program starts, in order to socialize and gather materials. Then, perhaps at 3:15pm, the program would begin and run for an hour before taking a break at 4:15pm. The first hour is most effective as the students' minds can most easily absorb the material. A break of 10 minutes is then necessary, and then the second segment would run from 4:25pm-5:15pm. At that point the student would have the homework assignment and now has to complete it prior to the next class, which would meet a week later on Tuesday again, at the same time and place. This schedule would be flexible to accommodate the particular scheduling needs of the enrolled students.
Sessions will meet one day a week for about 14 weeks. There is a midterm and final exam to motivate the students, along with weekly homework assignments.
The internet is used for prompter feedback than is possible otherwise. If students do not have access to the internet, then they hand in their homework on paper. If students have access to the internet and are willing to post their work online anonymously, then feedback is within hours or days of their posting their work.
In many teenagers there is an improvement in their homework if they post it publicly on an internet site, much as an adult improves his writings or presentations when he knows the public will be evaluating it. The use of the internet is voluntary in this program but results in substantial benefits for those who choose to participate in it.
The teacher for this program is primarily Andy Schlafly. Other teachers, if any, will work with his close participation and supervision.

Section B

Key instructional practices and major program elements must be (1) high quality, (2) based on research (citations required), and (3) specifically designed to increase student academic achievement (10 points maximum)

The instructional materials consist of a combination of specially developed readings or "lectures", tailor-made homework assignments, occasional multiple-choice exams and, where appropriate, supplemental readings and books. Only materials that present the information in a clear and concise material are used.
For improvement in reading skills, the textbook "Turbo Reader" is used.
The suitability of these materials and program elements are confirmed by research that demonstrates that "the most effective way to get students to master important 'real-world' skills is to teach them the knowledge that is prerequisite to those skills." See Kathleen Madigan, "A repackaged education proposal," Boston Globe (Feb. 14, 209), http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/02/14/a_repackaged_education_proposal/
"Leaders in Hartford chose to focus on "how to" skills like critical thinking and problem-solving over academic content; Massachusetts chose rich content and objective assessments. Connecticut has recently seen the error of its ways. It has discarded the focus on how-to skills and joined the growing number of cities and states adopting Massachusetts' academic standards as their model.
Importantly, research also shows a strong correlation between raising verbal scores and narrowing achievement gaps. The states that saw the most significant gains in reading scores during the 1998-2005 period - Massachusetts, Delaware, and Wyoming - also made the most progress at narrowing achievement gaps. Conversely, achievement gaps widened in states like Connecticut and West Virginia that saw the largest reading score declines.
This program emphasizes knowledge rather than "how to" skills, just as the successful program in Massachusetts has.
In addition, this applicant emphasizes the use of friendly competition to bring out the best in an under-performing or under-motivated student. When the student sees other students performing better, and that the under-performing student can also do just as well as others with more effort, then often the student improves dramatically. Use of the internet, with public posting of homework and feedback, helps harness the power of friendly competition to bring out the best in each individual.

Section C

Provide a clear, concise narrative including evidence of program effectiveness in improving student's academic achievement (35 points maximum)

Examples of Evidence of Effectiveness:


-Student achievement data from valid and reliable performance tests from a state, district, and/or an independent test developer.

Our program has resulted in tremendous academic success by participants. In 2003, for example, about 30 teenagers took a one-semester course in this program on American History. The class was open to all without any pre-selection based on test scores or intelligence, and the diverse student body included those having a learning disability or having encountered difficulties in public school. The "in class" students totaled 28, and there were also a few purely on-line participants.
Despite being only a one-semester course, students excelled on the College Board SAT II exam afterward. Five (5) students scored 720 or higher on the SAT II, and a total of eleven (11) students scored 600 or higher. Given that these students were competing against mostly older college-bound high school students who had taken a full year, or even two years, of U.S. History, these scores after this one-semester, one-day-a-week program were remarkable.
Students from that class ultimately went on to excel far above expectations. One student, for example, who had struggled at public school, went on to win a full scholarship at a leading university in New Jersey, and will graduate in the 2009-10 academic year. Others eventually went to attend other top college programs, including the United States Coast Guard Academy, Grove City College, Thomas Aquinas College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Patrick Henry College.
The success of the 2003 U.S. History course led to this program offering it again in 2006. Then 43 students took this one-day-a-week, one-semester class. The College Board SAT II exam had changed by then, with an emphasis on topics like popular culture that our class did not cover. Nevertheless, at least ten (10) students scored at 610 or higher, and one student attained a perfect score of 800/800. As before, students from this class ultimately went to fine universities, with one student earning a full college scholarship. Due to its remarkable success, in 2008 another offering of this course attracted 65 students.
Other courses in this program have achieved even better results. A one-semester economics course in this program was taught in 2004 and 2007. It yielded a 100% pass rate on the college-level CLEP examination, with at least five students excelling on the exam. This program offered a course in American Government in 2003 and 2007, with similar success. After the American Government course in 2003, for example, seven (7) students passed the CLEP exam for college credit, and another three students who had done as well in the course could have passed the CLEP had they paid the fee and taken it.


-Student performance data using a measure that is not nation- or statewide, using a measure developed by the SES provider, or using school grades, homework completion, or results from a school/teacher administered subject area test.

Homework completion rates are extraordinarily high in this program. For example, in the U.S. History class offered in 2006, there were 504 homework assignments. 488 out of 504 assignments were completed by the teenage students, representing a completion rate of 96.8%.


-Letters of reference from previous clients, such as parents or students, offering testimonials on the positive impact of your program.

Can use emails of gratitude, plus ask for testimonials now


-Additional evidence of improved outcomes, such as student attendance, retention/promotion rates,graduation rates, family/parent satisfaction, and/or improved student behavior/discipline, as well as narrative excerpts from students themselves.

Over 170 students have participated in this program, from diverse backgrounds and without any pre-selection standards. There has not been a single disciplinary program by any of the students. To our knowledge, not one has fallen prey to the problems that afflict so many teenagers: drugs, smoking, alcoholism, depression, crime, or teenage pregnancy.
Our college admissions rate has been nearly 100%. The following colleges have admitted students from this program: Abilene Christian University, Appalachian State University <format remainder without newlines>


Ball State University
Belmont University
Biola University
Bloomfield College
Brown University
California State University Sacramento
Cornell University
Diablo Valley College
Drew University
Emory University
Fairleigh Dickinson University (graduating in 3 years using CLEP exams)
Franklin & Marshall College
Freed-Hardeman University
Gordon College
Grove City College (at least 6 students admitted here)
Huntingdon College
Liberty University (one on a full scholarship, and another on an independent scholarship)
Messiah College
Montclair State College
Notre Dame University
Nyack College
Oklahoma Christian University
Palm Beach Atlantic University
Patrick Henry College (one on a special writing scholarship)
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
Providence College
Ramapo College
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Rowan College
Sacramento State University
Seton Hall University (two students on big scholarships)
Thomas Aquinas College
Trinity College
United States Coast Guard Academy
University of Dallas
University of Florida
Vanderbilt University
Villanova University
Washington & Lee University

Section D

Describe clearly the specific assessment programs and practices used to diagnose a student's needs, prescribe an instructional program to meet that student's needs, and evaluate and monitor that student's progress towards clearly identified goals (15 points maximum)

What the State is looking for:

  • Specific processes you will use to assess and diagnose a student’s needs, identify gaps in skills or knowledge, and prescribe an instructional program based on the student’s individual needs.
  • Specific processes you will use to evaluate, monitor, and track student progress on a continuous and regular basis.
  • How you will develop a timetable for each student’s achievement gain that includes clear goals for the student.

<compare midterm and final exams for American History here>

Section E

Explain the proposed process of engaging parents/families and schools/teachers in the development of the Individual Student Learning Plans and the process of providing student progress reports to parents/families and schools (10 points maximum)

States will ask us to describe:

  • Specific procedures used to report student progress to parents and families.
Student progress can be reported to parents and families through returned homework asignments and tests (either in person or over the internet), as well as through communication with individual parents and families as necessary, including email and phone communication and in-person meetings.
  • Services provided to parents and procedures used for involving parents in creating time lines and goals for their child’s academic progress.
  • Accommodations made for working parents’ needs and schedules.
  • Processes used to resolve any disputes or conflicts that you or your staff may have with parents.
  • Expected role of parents in the services provided by you to their children, if any, and how you work with parents to explain this role.
  • Training that you offer to staff on working with parents, including what is the content of the training, who is the training offered to, and when does the training occur.
  • Information provided by you to parents and families in languages other than English, and if so, which languages.

<note how email grade reports were sent to every family>

Section F

Provide evidence of employment of qualified instructional staff (at a minimum 60 college credits or an associate's degree) and a demonstrated commitment to the provision of ongoing professional development and improvement of services (10 points maximum)

The leader of this program is Andy Schlafly, B.S.E., Princeton University (1981), J.D., Harvard Law School (1991), Adjunct Professor, Seton Hall University School of Law (1995), instructor of 170 high school-aged students, 2002-2009.
He welcomes feedback on this program and is committed to improving it each year based on student performance on class exams and homework and on standardized tests, parental feedback, and college admission rates.
This program provides frequent reports to students and parents, preferably by email but also by mail or in-person as may be desired. This enables constant refinement and improvement of the program to better meet the needs of the families enrolled.
Other staff, if any, will be limited to those having a proven record of academic achievement and at least 60 college credits or an associate's degree. They will be carefully screened using background checks, references, extensive interviews and a thorough review of their work-product. They will also be thoroughly trained in the methods of this program that maximize student improvement and achievement.

Section G

Provide evidence that the program complies with federal, state, and local health and safety standards and that your agency has a plan to address discipline problems and emergency situations to ensure the safety of students while in the program (20 points maximum)

Note: This is worth 20 points and the application expects up to 2 pages of information!!! Each response must be clearly labeled with the section header and the number of the corresponding question:

The program has taught over 170 students since 2002 without a single instance of a health, safety, discipline or other problem under federal, state and/or local standards. The nature of the program and approach taken is designed to minimize disciplinary issues.

1. Explain in detail the student discipline policy. Describe any policies, resources available for teachers, and how parents and classroom teachers are engaged with any student difficulties. (4 points)

Any discipline problems will be reported directly to the program leader, Andy Schlafly. <describe procedure in detail. mention issue of inappropriate homework answers>

2. Describe the plan for emergency situations or temporary suspension of service such as fire, severe weather, or other disasters. Include emergency exit plans and notification procedures for emergency closure. (3 points)

<address snow days; evacuation from school>
The instructor has a cell phone and contact information for emergency services and families to address any crisis that may occur.

3. Explain the process used by the agency to conduct and document criminal background/fingerprinting checks before hiring employees. Include if applicable the process used to secure documentation from districts when employing district staff. In addition, where appropriate, indicate whether employees are bonded and identify any other background checks used. (5 points)

<use internet services. Is fingerprinting necessary?>

4. Provide evidence of a student attendance policy. Describe the student sign-in procedure as well as the process for notification of student absences. (3 points)

<address sign-in policy>

5. Provide evidence of safe facilities for SES use. (5 points)

The courses will be taught at the public school, which already has facilities available to handle any emergencies that may arise.

Section H

Provide evidence of financial capacity. It appears that no points are awarded for this section, but points may be deducted if inadequate.

This program has existed since 2002 and has paid every obligation, and even donated time and money beyond its obligations. A letter is attached from a banking institution evidencing the creditworthiness. (need to attach letter).

Application Format

The final application must:

  • use single space and twelve-point font.
  • In the footer, add the name of the applicant agency/district.
  • be printed one-sided, on 8 1/2 x 11 three hole punched white paper.
  • assembled in loose-leaf binders, with each section separated by inserting tabbed dividers with each section clearly identified;
  • submitted as an original and two copies
  • insert a copy of the Provider Profile in the clear slip sheet of the cover.
  • limit necessary attachments to no more than will fit into a 2” binder.
  • DO NOT PERMANENTLY BIND THE APPLICATION OR RELEVANT ATTACHMENTS.

Be sure to include:

  • Provider Profile (Part I of the Application).
  • Provider Program Proposal (Part II of the Application).
  • Provider Assurances (Part III of the Application).
  • Requested attachments.

Innovative aspects of the courses to mention where appropriate

  • give the lecture before the students read the same material
  • use model answers based on student homework
  • encourage students to post their answers public, for feedback that is also public
  • admit that many questions remain unanswered, and encourage students to address the unsolved mysteries
  • teach students to recognize bias and deceit
  • grade homework in the same order it is completed, to encourage early completion of assignments
  • awards for best work and most improved

(add more)

References

  1. http://www.state.nj.us/education/title1/program/ss/application.pdf
  2. http://www.nj.gov/njded/aps/cccs
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