Determine whether an identified concern is truly a problem that should be dealt with through a broad-based community action plan.
Prepare a needs assessment worksheet including the name of the PTA, the school, and the identified concern in appropriate places (Needs Assessment Worksheet, Forms 373).
Determine who is to receive the needs assessment form, how it is to be distributed and the due date for the return. Determine method of follow-up.
Survey appropriate agencies to obtain statistics on the identified concern. This can be done by making personal contacts or by sending a cover letter and the needs assessment form to some or all of the people and agencies listed below.
Obtain statistics reflecting the community’s ethnic and socioeconomic background. Information may be obtained from the school district office and will be necessary if the PTA will apply for a grant to fund this project.
Evaluate information received. Review all data and compile the responses to the questions on the needs assessment form. Determine whether the school and community concur with the identified concern and believe that a problem exists.
If it is determined that a problem exists, the information gathered will be a basis for the formulation of a community action plan. If it is determined that a problem does not exist, or is not of concern to the school and community, it is best not to invest time and money in seeking solutions.
Prepare a final report that includes the following information:
As a courtesy, distribute the report to those who participated in the survey. It will compensate them for their cooperation and will raise the level of awareness within the community.
Use the report as a tool in developing and implementing a plan of action. A Sample Agenda for Needs Assessment (Fig. 7-2, 289) for a meeting to discuss the findings follows.
How to Make a Study
A study is in order whenever the association (membership) is concerned about a subject or an issue. A study committee must gather facts, investigate carefully and prepare a final report. The possible reasons for making a study are many.
PURPOSES OF A STUDY
The purposes of a study are to:
Acquire knowledge about a subject;
Respond to a concern of the membership in a particular area (e.g., education, health, safety, community problems, state or local legislation); Respond to a need or problem;
Gather all available facts and information before acting on an issue that concerns the membership;
Develop information on a subject or issue that the association believes should be presented to the California State PTA Board of Managers, government agencies (e.g., school board, city council, board of supervisors), other groups or the public; or
Develop a resolution for the California State PTA Convention.
INITIATE A STUDY WITH A
Initiate a study with a:
Motion from the association membership;
Request from an individual member;
Recommendation from the executive board;
Recommendation from a committee of the association; or
Request from an allied agency, organization or group.
The president appoints the chairman and members of the committee subject to ratification by the executive board. The number and composition may be specified in the motion creating the committee. (If this is done, the phrase "and others as appointed by the president" must always be included as protection against oversight.)
The committee should be composed of at least five but not more than nine people. Members may include:
Committee expenses are legitimate PTA expenses.
STUDY COMMITTEE PROCEDURES
Keep minutes to avoid repetition in subsequent meetings, to ensure that all items in the plan of work are covered, to avoid omissions in the final report, and as a record of the committee's work.
Identify the subject(s) and/or issue(s) to be included in the study.
Set goals. Will the committee gather information or will it try to develop recommendations for action? If "information only" how will the information be used? How much time will be needed?
Decide the scope of the study. How much information will be needed to reach the goals? What areas of the subject/issue will the committee try to cover?
Use resources such as films, newspapers, publications, appropriate agencies, and experts in the field of study. All sources should be verified to ensure the accuracy of the information.
Assign responsibilities for research. Each member of the committee should have a specific assignment. Subcommittees may be helpful in completing the research. All research should be available to all members of the committee.
Ensure that all areas of interest on the subject or issue (within the defined scope) are covered. Personal views must not be allowed to intrude.
All possible solutions, conclusions, etc., should be listed with an evaluation of how they will affect the subject or issue.
Recommended Solutions should be Tested
Are they in accordance with the Purposes and basic policies of the PTA?
Is there a strong possibility they will accomplish the desired results?
Are they practical? Are the necessary resources (whatever they may be) available?
Will the proposed solution create other problems that need to be resolved before implementation?
Are the recommended solutions in the best interest of children and youth?
Do the solutions completely address the subject or issue as defined in the scope, or is more research needed?
THE STUDY REPORT
The study report should:
Be written by the chairman (the secretary may assist) and approved by the committee;
Be submitted first to the PTA executive board and then to the association;
Include an appendix listing all reference materials used and any other resources;
Include any recommendations for further study, implementation or action; and
Include the time requirements involved in implementing recommendations.
WHEN A STUDY IS COMPLETED
The association or executive board may refer a study report to another group although that group had no part in initiating the original study.
Studies forwarded to the California State PTA should be sent through channels — unit to council (if in council) to district PTA.
When appropriate, all studies should be submitted to the council (if in council) and to the district PTA, so the information will be available to other units.
All studies referred to another group or submitted through channels should be accompanied by a study letter.
Following the final report, the study committee ceases to function unless given further responsibilities by the executive board or association.
Develop an Action Plan
PURPOSE OF PLAN
Explore alternate solutions to identified problem(s).
Open informal communication among various community groups.
Share information and resources and avoid duplication of efforts.
Ensure that program improvement and changes are relevant to the community.
STEPS TO FOLLOW
Consider the probable community response.
Identify influential leaders to be involved. Make sure the group is balanced and no special interests dominate. Ensure that participant’s time and talents are utilized effectively. Consider representatives from the following groups:
Set specifics of initial meeting:
Prepare and send letters of invitation to potential participants. Include the following in letters:
At the meeting:
Develop a final action plan (Final Action Plan, Forms 371):
Take the action plan to the PTA board and general membership for final approval.
Implement the Action Plan
Through the evaluation process, show to what extent the group can be a viable community force.
To ensure the action plan is being implemented.
To make modifications to the plan, if evaluation data indicates changes are needed.
STEPS TO FOLLOW
Monitor progress of the action plan through regular reports.
Modify the action plan as necessary. Be flexible.
At a meeting of the group review:
Evaluate Success of the Plan
A final evaluation report should include (Evaluation Form, Forms 367):