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Conference for WEEA Grantees
On January 23-24, 2002 an enthusiastic group of over 50 current and former WEEA grantees, staff, and guests attended a technical assistance conference in Washington, DC hosted by the WEEA Equity Resource Center and the U.S. Department of Education. WEEA Center director Sundra Flansburg called the conference to order. In her welcoming comments to the group, Edith Harvey, Acting Group Leader, School Improvement Programs, U.S. Department of Education, outlined the conference goals:
The two day conference included an interesting mix of plenary sessions with keynote speakers, panel discussions, and small group meetings where grantees with similar projects discussed their work. Grantees also offered their peers advice and strategies in panel discussions on leadership development and building institutional and community support for equity. Staff from the U.S. Department of Education presented sessions on grants administration and effective research and evaluation. Additionally, WEEA Center staff conducted workshops on how to publicize grantees’ work and how to publish materials through the center.
The opening event for the conference was an "Expo" of exhibits designed by the grantees to showcase their projects and to share highlights, accomplishments, and lessons learned. These displays included pictures, videos, literature, PowerPoint presentations, student work, journals, brochures, newsletters, and other project materials.
Jane Oates, Senior Education Advisor to Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, delivered the luncheon keynote address on January 23rd. Her lively presentation included an overview of the status of current educational equity issues in Congress as well as her assessment of some of the barriers to advancing equity initiatives in Washington. She also gave the participants some practical tips about how to better communicate their activities, expertise, and needs to policymakers.
Katherine Hanson, director of the Gender & Diversities Institute at Education Development Center, Inc. (and former director of the WEEA Center), highlighted some of the significant achievements of the WEEA Program. She spoke of the need to document the "ripple effects" of WEEA that has been changing families and communities for 28 years. The extensive network developed over those years is another strength of the program that should be emphasized.
Blanca Rodriguez, Director of the Department of Education’s Grants, Policy, and Oversight Staff, led the grantees through the requirements for completing their projects. She provided the grantees with an extensive packet of resources to take home.
Wanda Gill, Senior Advisor, School Improvement Programs, stressed the need for grantees to document the successes of their projects. During her overview of effective research and evaluation strategies, she suggested several low-cost options asking for implementation, including:
In the discussions following this presentation, grantees said they already were using both quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate their work including self-esteem tools, pre- and post-tests, interest inventories, interviews, and student/mentors.
Small Group Discussions
Those projects working at the community level added the following suggestions:
Many of the participants said meeting in small groups and the informal networking opportunities were very valuable to their learning and their work.
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