Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 1
1 Introcluction Americans have long prided themselves on an education system dedi- cated to extending knowledge to the broadest possible spectrum of chil- dren and youth. The participation of volunteers in furthering the educa- tion process is both perceived and believed to be good and to contribute to the welfare of America's students. Yet, given such widely held beliefs, surprisingly little is known about school-based volunteerism. Bits and pieces describing particular programs or activities abound, but not much is known about the overall picture. In part to meet the needs for such information and in part to promote the concept of volunteerism, the U.S. Congress included a provision in the Higher Education Amendments of 1986 for a study to be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences on how volunteers can best be used in the classroom (Section 1341, P.L. 99-498~. The study was carried out at the request of the U.S. Department of Education by a committee established under the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (CBASSE) of the National Research Council. Despite increasing interest in using volunteers to enhance the educa- tion of American youths, attempts to study their contributions to pupils and teachers, to the schools, and to the community have been largely local studies focusing on specific projects. These data from local school dis- tricts and anecdotal information gathered by the committee suggested considerable growth in the numbers of volunteers over the past several decades. This was borne out to some extent by a 1985 study conducted by the Gallup organization for the Independent Sector, which showed an increase in volunteer participation in education of some 4 percent be 1
OCR for page 2
2 VOLUNTEERS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS tween 1981 and 1985, at the same time that overall volunteer activity was recording a decline of the same magnitude. The pool from which school volunteers are drawn has changed accord- ing to school officials and others knowledgeable in this area. Twenty to 30 years ago most school volunteers were mothers of school children, but this source has been reduced as women have moved into paid employ- ment. Increasingly, people from the business community, retired citizens, and college students have been actively recruited by school systems, and these groups now constitute a substantial portion of volunteers. As the pool of school volunteers has become more diverse, so have the kinds of activities in which they engage. Growing public concern with the quality of education has resulted in greater emphasis on volunteering to help with activities directly related to student learning. The committee found a great variety of services provided by volun- teers, including: tutoring students in need of special help with such skills as reading, writing, and mathematics; listening attentively to children who "need a special friend"; working to develop English-language skills in children who are immigrants to the United States; acting as mentors and role models, and providing career guidance for disadvantaged youths; enhancing students' appreciation of arts and literature through lectures and demonstrations and helping in hands-on application of arts and crafts; organizing and operating computer labs; accompanying choral and other musical events; helping students organize science fairs, school newspa- pers, and dramatic events; and serving as guest lecturers on topics in which volunteers have experience and expertise. The committee also ob- served programs in which volunteers serve as surrogate grandparents in intergenerational programs that try to overcome stereotypical separations between young and old. In addition to helping with instructional activities, large numbers of volunteers assist in libraries and media centers; help to monitor school lunch rooms and playgrounds; relieve teachers of paperwork and other nonacademic chores; help with field trips; and advise and support stu- dents in a wide range of clubs, competitions, arrd athletic events. The literature reviewed as well as school officials and volunteer coordi- nators interviewed emphasize that the role of volunteers in all of these activities is to supplement rather than supplant professional school per- sonnel. Their tasks are to augment and enrich the teaching and other activities in schools and classrooms. The committee learned of instances in which volunteers have become a bridge between schools and their communities, helping the communities to understand the schools' mis- sions and needs. Early in its study the committee became aware of the generally positive image attached to the concept of volunteerism. It was evident that the
OCR for page 3
INTRODUCTION 3 body of research on volunteers consists largely of specific studies on proj- ects, such as tutoring and serving as mentors, plus informal evaluation studies based on teachers' or volunteers' perceptions as to the effective- ness of volunteer efforts. In its analysis of the literature and information from site visits and interviews, the committee was especially careful to approach the review critically and to attempt to draw reasonable conclu- sions as to the efficacy and value of volunteerism. Problem areas and possible negative aspects, as well as the positive, were considered in this review. In conducting its study, the committee attempted to address questions such as: How large is the school volunteer effort? What is the number of schools, volunteers, teachers, and students involved? What is the nature of volunteer activities and how are they distributed? What is known about the contribution of school volunteers (for example, to increased academic achievement, to improved student attitudes, to teacher effec- tiveness, to community support for education)? What is known about factors that are important to the success of volunteer programs? Are there common elements among successful programs? What problems should schools anticipate in implementing a program to use volunteers in the classroom? What problems should volunteers expect? The first task of the committee was to agree on a definition of a "school volunteer" in order to establish the scope and limits of the study. Volun- teers interact with schools in many ways. Initially, the committee in- tended to focus on volunteer activities related only to students in the classroom. However, we discovered that these are difficult to isolate from clerical and other support activities in a school. Accordingly, we decided to consider the broader picture of the use of volunteers in public schools, from kindergarten through high school (grades K-12. Thus, the term "school (or classroom) volunteer" as used in this report generally refers to persons who work without pay, usually under the direction of an author- ized teacher or other school employee, in support of school objectives to enhance the education of students. It includes people who participate in some aspect of instruction as well as those who help with clerical or other support activities. This definition with minor modifications in wording is used by the National Association of Partners in Education, the major pro- fessional organization with which directors of school volunteer services, volunteer coordinators, and volunteers are affiliated. Most state agencies that define the term also restrict it to unpaid service, as do most school districts. Business-education partnerships, a rapidly growing area of community involvement in education, often provide financial or material gifts to schools, employment opportunities for teachers and students, and other forms of collaboration with schools. For this study' however, the commit
OCR for page 4
4 VOLUNTEERS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS tee considered only those business efforts that involve placement of vol- unteers in schools. Similarly, members of the Parent-Teacher Associations (PrAs), citizen activist organizations, advisory councils, or other parent or community groups connected with schools were not included unless they actually serve as school volunteers. It is recognized, however, that PTAs and other groups frequently are the major vehicle through which volunteers are recruited and that parent volunteers are often members of PIAs or other groups. The term "unpaid" in every case refers to payment by the school sys- tem. Persons who are released by their employers on paid company time to work with schools are generally considered volunteers. Likewise, sen- ior citizens or others who receive a small stipend when serving in the foster grandparents or similar programs are also included as volunteers. In analyzing available data and research findings, however, the commit- tee could not always hold strictly to this definition. For example, we found that persons on advisory groups, high school or other K-12 stu- dents who serve as tutors or aides, and persons who volunteer in after- school and Saturday programs are considered volunteers by some school districts but not by others. Some of the bills under debate in the U.S. Congress during the course of this study would provide modest stipends for volunteers. For ex- ample, several of the national service bills under consideration in early 1989 would pay volunteers a minimum stipend and entitle them to an additional sum for schooling at the completion of their service. Although such legislation, if enacted, could make a big difference in the numbers and types of volunteers available to the schools, it would not affect our definition. Such volunteers would still provide unpaid services to schools, even though they would receive stipends from federal, state, or local gov ernments. In carrying out the study, the committee undertook four major tasks: 1. To create a profile or portrait of the use of volunteers in schools by assembling, organizing, and assessing available data and descriptions of volunteer programs in schools. 2. To assemble and analyze the research literature with respect to the contribution of volunteers. The main focus was on educational effects (student achievement, student attendance, student motivation and atti- tudes, and assistance to teachers), but economic contributions' effects on the volunteers themselves, and effects on the community were also re- viewed. Negative effects (for example, administrative or teacher opposi- tion) and their possible consequences were examined to the extent permit- ted by existing evidence.
OCR for page 5
INTRODUCTION 5 3. To provide detailed descriptions of a small number of exemplary programs, based on site visits. 4. To examine and provide conclusions on the factors that foster or inhibit successful volunteer programs. This report is the result of the committee's efforts. Chapter 2 presents a brief history of the organized volunteer movement. A profile or portrait, largely based on statistical data, of the use of volunteers comprises Chap- ter 3. Chapter 4 is an analysis of the literature on research and evaluation with respect to the use of volunteers in schools. In Chapter 5, we analyze the committee's 13 site visits to exemplary volunteer programs, including a description of the criteria by which the sites were chosen, the protocols followed, a discussion of each of the programs observed, and a summary of findings. The factors that the committee believes foster or inhibit suc- cessful programs are reviewed in Chapter 6, including a brief discussion of the findings from this study that might be helpful to the Congress as it considers possible legislation with respect to a national voluntary youth service program. Recommendations are included at the end of the chap- ters as appropriate. The report concludes with "A Call to Action," which presents the committee's conclusions and concerns, highlights elements of broad national interest, and proposes actions by the President, the Secre- tary of Education, and the Congress to support the use of volunteers in schools.
Representative terms from entire chapter: