Settlement Workers In Schools (SWIS) Newcomer Orientation Week (NOW) Year Two Roll Out Evaluation Report
|Org:||Kappel Ramji Consulting Group|
Following the successful 2007 pilot of Newcomer Orientation Week (NOW) - a one week initiative to prepare newly arrived youth for entry to high schools in Ontario - Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) rolled out the initiative to 40 schools in Ontario in the summer of 2008.
A more detailed evaluation of the pilot to determine its strengths and the conditions for success was previously completed. This evaluation of the roll out was broader and more streamlined.
There were two tools developed for the evaluation: a self-administered web-based survey for team members and an interview guide for managers. Peer Leaders, teachers and settlement workers in the 40 NOW programs across Ontario participated in an online survey and interviews immediately after the completion of the roll out.
The evaluation sought to answer two key questions:
- Are there any major issues related to the expansion and decentralization of the initiative from the point of view of the NOW teams- the Settlement Workers, Teachers and Peer Leaders?
- What are the key management issues that might need further consideration for future success and possible continued expansion of NOW?
NOW Experience Overall - NOW roll out was a resounding success. All of the data supports this.
- Relations with the School - While most perceive that relations with the schools were smooth, there were a few issues in some sites with caretaking. Principals and/or Vice principals were universally supportive of NOW. Starting the development of NOW early and building positive relations with various departments of the school/district throughout the year greatly enhances the likelihood of success.
- Registration - This continues to be an issue that requires specific and detailed planning in each site where NOW will be offered.
- Communication of Students with NOW Team Members - While most newcomer students attending NOW could communicate with at least one person on the Team in their first language, there were still some students who had difficulty.
Outreach/Recruitment of Students for NOW - This area requires the most work for future improvement (Note: The impact of NOW on newcomer youth was not part of this evaluation.).
NOW Curriculum - The curriculum is considered strong, but there are suggested areas for improvement:
- Make the first day more active
- Incorporate more drama/theatre strategies into the activities
NOW Team Roles
- Peer Leader Recruitment - This process has become diversified, with positive results. Interestingly, returning Peer Leaders were seen as less interested/excited, leading to a conclusion that new Peer Leaders should be hired to ensure high excitement.
- Peer Leader Training - Overall most are satisfied with the training that PLs received and their subsequent performance, with a few issues noted in the report.
- Settlement Worker Training - There were some issues raised about the training of Settlement Workers, in terms of consistency and timing.
- Teacher Selection and Training - Overall there seems to be a sense that teachers fulfilled their roles well. They were seen to be supportive of the peer- led model.
NOW Concept - all team members recognize the value of NOW and that the peer-led approach is the right approach. Everyone believes that NOW should be continued.
Management of NOW - This was the first year of decentralized management of NOW. In general, no major issues have emerged. However, the authors outline some findings they felt were worth noting.
Overall, the authors assert that the NOW program has been a success and should continue. They also outline 13 recommendations/areas for improvement to strengthen the program.