Philanthropy Column

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The University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center last month began a series of workshops to teach recipients of precollegiate education grants to conduct their own evaluations.

The project, part of a $1.1-million partnership between the center and the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, addresses foundation concerns that program assessment has been woefully inadequate. The assessment issue is about more than just holding recipients accountable for results, Gayle Dorman, a program director at Lilly, said.

'"We have to accumulate learning over a time through good evaluation, then plow it back into practice," she said.

At last month's workshop, 27 community leaders and educators from seven Indiana sites participating in Lilly's Community Guidance Program discussed how to turn existing or easily attainable data into meaningful assessment measures. The program seeks to link agencies and schools working on youth guidance with a common agenda.

About 100 teachers and librarians participating in Lilly's Reading Improvement Project have been invited to the next workshop on Nov. 18.

With evaluation becoming a hot topic in K-12 grantmaking, the Bruner Foundation in New York City announced this month that it will hold a special assessment conference in the spring for teachers and students involved in its precollege programs.

Janet Carter, the foundation's executive director, said that foundation officials have become increasingly interested in assessment, but that educators have been hesitant to measure program impacts, which might come in subtle forms not measurable by standardized tests or questionnaires.

The conference, which will be by invitation only, will try to iron out methods of evaluation that will not be too intrusive or onerous for reluctant participants.

Grantmakers attending the annual precollegiate-education meeting of the Council on Foundations this month pressured business groups to get off the fence on the parental-choice issue.

After a speech by Christopher Cross, the Business Roundtable's director of educational programs, members of the audience questioned Mr. Cross on the roundtable's position that choice may be one answer, but that, by itself, it cannot solve all the nation's education problems.

David Bergholtz, executive director of the Cleveland-based George Gund Foundation, said, 'What's not good enough."

Mr. Bergholtz said that position, shared by other national business groups, has only confused policymakers.

Grantmakers encouraged business groups to clarify their position and become leaders on the issue. --J.W.

Vol. 11, Issue 11, Page 8

Published in Print: November 13, 1991, as Philanthropy Column
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