Where teachers make house calls
Before Pinellas school district officials and community members took a rare stab at home visits Saturday, the Gradebook talked to Carrie Rose, executive director of the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project, based in Sacramento, Calif. Some information about that project, along with quotes from Rose, were included in a draft of the story, but were apparently cut due to space considerations.
Rose gave the Pinellas effort a thumbs up. "Any kind of outreach is a good idea, especially the kind that breaks out of the mold of how we're supposed to be talking to teach other," she said.
Started in 1998, the project is a joint effort between the district, the teachers union and churches. It's now a model for about 100 schools in 11 states.
Teacher home visits are different than the "community walks" that Pinellas rolled out Saturday. But the impulses behind them are the same, and both are slowly on the rise, Rose said.
She cited several reasons why we don't see more of it: Teachers have a lot on their plates, now more than ever. Finding the money is tough. And parent engagement is still an overlooked/undervalued piece in school reform discussions. "The true value ... is still in the early stages of being discovered," Rose said.
In Sacramento, the PTHVP pays teachers $35 an hour. Teachers typically make two visits a year (although the model is a little different for high schools.) It's voluntary for both teachers and families.
On average, Rose said, 30 to 50 percent of the staffs in participating schools choose to do home visits. She said the average cost per site is about $10,000.
She also said impact data is still being collected, but early results show the program has a positive effect on attendance and discipline rates and test scores.
It remains to be seen where Pinellas goes with its home visiting effort, and how effective it will be. But in the meantime, we wonder: How often do teachers around here make house calls? Would more do so if they were paid for that kind of effort? And would it make a difference in student achievement?