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Is your School Ready for Common Core Assessments?

September 4, 2013

ImageLeverage E-rate to get ready for PARCC and Smarter Balanced 

Schools across the country are encountering a major problem as they prepare for a new wave of Common Core based assessments:  they simply do not have the bandwidth or hardware to make administration possible.  Oklahoma has already opted out of PARCC after discovering that only one in five schools had enough bandwidth.  So where does this leave your district?  If your school technology budget is strained, look into maximizing your E-rate benefits. 

Money obtained from this federal program can be used to bolster your internet capabilities or pay for phone and internet access, freeing up funds. 

  • First consider whether you are realizing for full discount rate.  Have you gotten every student in the building to turn in their National School Lunch Program forms?  If not, why?  Some families are reluctant to turn in the forms because of immigration concerns.   High school students may not return the form because they fear being stigmatized.
  • Consider using alternate measures of poverty.  Families that are eligible for SNAP (formerly food stamps), Medicaid, SSI, section 8 housing and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program count as low-income students when applying for E-rate. 
  • Obtain information about your students’ siblings.  A reluctant high schooler may not return a NSLP form, but if his little brother returned it to the local elementary school, you can use that information to count your student as E-rate eligible. 
  • Try the survey method.  If you send an income survey to parents and more than half of your students return the form, these results can be extrapolated to represent the whole school.  Find more information here: http://www.jhmedu.com/true-discount-rate

 We recently worked with a charter high school that did not qualify for priority 2 funding.  After discovering that many of their students did not turn in their NSLP forms, we helped the school set up a survey.  After tallying the results, the school qualified for priority 2 funding and was able to install a new network!

Carefully examine your discount rate and you may find that your school is eligible for funding that defrays the cost of getting assessment ready!

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