Cycle 2 of Evaluation Set to Go
Like everyone else, we want to know whether our work is making a measurable difference in the lives of girls, families and communities in San Pedro Sacatepéquez. We also want to learn how we can do a better job of what we’re doing.
In January of this year we launched a systematic evaluation program to gather much-needed data to substantiate (or not) our working hypotheses, measure impacts, and help us improve our programs. The evaluation design and instruments, overseen by WWT Board member and volunteer Dr. RoseMarie Perez-Foster, Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado in Boulder, were developed in collaboration with our ADIMTU partners. The program is built around a pre/post test, control group design and includes collecting demographic data on both the girls and, to some extent, their families.
Combining the schools where Leadership Institute programs are offered and the control schools in which we do not offer these interventions, the evaluation team is collecting data on the better part of 1000 adolescent girls.
RoseMarie trained ADIMTU staff to collect the first cycle of data at the beginning of the school year (January-October in Guatemala). She’s mentored Advin Orozco Fuentes, an ADIMTU intern studying at the nearby national university and now-paid staffer, to manage the data collection, coding and entry. He recently traveled to Guatemala City for training by our consulting statistician, Dr. Meredith Fort. We’re so pleased about how Advin has grown into this job and has become an important member of the onsite evaluation team, a terrific unintended consequence of our work in San Pedro.
Right now the team is crunching cycle 1 data while preparing to administer cycle 2 of the assessment during October. We’re looking forward to sharing improved descriptive stats on the girls with you before the end of the year, followed by a more detailed report on program impacts and outcomes, ideally by February/March 2015.
ADIMTU Staff Attends II Foro Internacional
ADIMTU was honored to be invited and receive the funding necessary to participate in the Second International Forum sponsored by the Kenoli Foundation of Vancouver, B.C. and held in Honduras in September. The purpose of the Forum was to foster the exchange of knowledge, experience and outcomes among the 30 organizations from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua that receive funding from Kenoli. Of the 7 Guatemalan organizations attending, ADIMTU was the only one not yet funded by Kenoli, and was pleased to be introduced as a future partner.
Alejandra Ramos de León, an ADIMTU change agent who has been part of the Girls Leadership Program since its inception, ably represented ADIMTU there. Describing ADIMTU’s mission and programs, Alejandra both presented to the whole group and participated in small-group workshops. She also staffed a table where she had many good one-on-one conversations.
Alejandra reports that people’s response to ADIMTU’s work was very positive, especially among those representing other projects that address Childhood and Youth in Central America. She learned the ins and outs of preparing a successful proposal to Kenoli and what financial and program reporting and evaluation are required. She was especially pleased to report that, thanks to the hard work of their Board, ADIMTU is well-prepared to meet all such requirements for transparency and accountability.
You can count on it. Your generous donations are changing lives. Just ask our girls, their mothers and others in San Pedro Sacatepéquez. They all agree: Educated Girls Change the Future.
As I was leaving Guatemala last February after spending over a month there, I was approached by a man who wanted to share his observations of ADIMTU’s work in the villages of San Pedro Sacatepéquez and especially what he thought about the impact it was having on the adolescent girls in the communities where they work. His opinion was of great interest to me, as he was from that region, had extensive experience working in community development, and had followed ADIMTU’s work over the last several years as it evolved and deepened.
What he said was profound. He had observed significant differences in the attitude and behaviors of girls in communities where ADIMTU is working compared to those of girls in neighboring communities where there is no ADIMTU presence. In communities where ADIMTU was not working, the incidence of early pregnancy among teenage girls was disturbingly high, he said. Girls commonly began bearing children at puberty, lured by the entreaties of local boys to become novios (sweethearts) and live happily ever after. As a result, 15–16 year old girls would often be trailed by several offspring and the course of a life of deprivation and poverty for them and their children would be set. In addition, the incidents of human trafficking were mounting, he reported, as when a shining pick up truck rolls into town and its driver promises a future in which a girl’s dreams would come true. Too often, the girl would climb aboard, never to be seen again.
In contrast, he’d observed that the girls who participated in ADIMTU’s programs had a much stronger sense of self. They knew they could stand on their own and that they had the internal capacity to set their own goals and make positive decisions in their lives that would help them achieve those goals. They knew that others valued them. They wanted to live lives in which they could make a significant contribution to their family, their community, and possibly their country. They were not lured by promises of others – neither prospective novios nor traffickers, to whom they would say, “I don’t need to leave, I have a place right here.” And, he noted, their peers, also program participants, agreed with one another, unknowingly but effectively shifting community norms along with their personal changes.
These differences are profound, and yet, when one examines the experiences and learning the girls acquire over the 3 years of their work with ADIMTU, one can see the reasons why:
In Grade 7 (La Vida de Mi Mamá) they learn first-hand about the hardships their mothers faced, and resolve to continue their education so as to be better prepared to lead a better life, with more opportunity.
In Grade 8 (La Lectura Familiar) they learn to really read, with access to wonderful books that explore lives and worlds outside of their own and that are selected by ADIMTU staff to include examples of inquiry, exploration, goal settling, persistence and success. As they share these books with their families, the girls bring new ideas and experiences into the family discourse, simultaneously opening the thinking and expectations of the whole community, family reading time by family reading time, household by household.
Finally, in Grade 9 (Mi Hermanita) they each take responsibility for a little sister, guiding her to success in school through weekly tutoring sessions while also demonstrating to themselves, their families and community members that they indeed have the power to create permanent change in themselves and in the people around them.
The girls who develop this sense of their own capacities want to grow and achieve their own dreams and they know they have the internal resources to do so. Of course, we can not claim this is true for all girls in ADIMTU programs, as the factors influencing their lives are many, but to hear a local man’s observations of such a general trend is very heartening.
The reports of the overwhelming numbers of young children and teens being detained at our borders as they flee their homes and try to enter the US to find a better life are startling and deeply troubling. These young people must be so very desperate to take on such danger and uncertainty. Surely, it must be because they feel they have no future where they are.
While relatively modest, as ADIMTU’s programs evolve they may well become a significant intervention to these overarching trends. We are conducting a 3-year longitudinal evaluation both to learn if this is so and to help ADIMTU improve programs in the field. We believe this to be true, and it has given strength to our ongoing resolve to help them continue this work.
As ever, each and every financial contribution gives the ADIMTU staff the resources they need to go out each day, armed with books and art supplies and activities which help turn these girls’ faces toward a brighter future. We hope you will find it in your hearts to make a contribution to support their work.
Evaluation Program Underway - Programs Set for Expansion
Our top-notch program and evaluation team of Wendy Baring-Gould and RoseMarie Perez Foster spent several weeks in San Pedro Sacatepéquez during January & February working intensively with the ADIMTU team to prepare for the new school year. During their first week in San Pedro they worked with ADIMTU to refine and pilot our expanded evaluation plan, digging into every detail from student profile categories to data collection plans and protocols. The subsequent week was devoted to curriculum planning, teacher training and implementation preparation.
Utilizing a controlled pre-post experimental design, RoseMarie, a psycho-educational researcher at the Institute for Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, has constructed a longitudinal outcomes study to assess the efficacy of our program. Standardized testing instruments will be used to assess the girls’ literacy skills and psycho-developmental strides. The statistically analyzed impact of ADIMTU’s program will be compared with matched schools in San Marcos that do not receive the intervention. Preliminary results are expected at the beginning of 2015. Significantly, as the National Ministry of Education has learned more about the breadth and depth of ADIMTU’s Leadership Institute programs, they’ve expressed their willingness to and interest in cooperating with WWT and ADIMTU to accomplish this evaluation.
Under RoseMarie’s leadership and her continuing skype consultations, ADIMTU has begun the process of data collection in the thirteen schools where we are providing all of the Leadership Institute programs, aka “the intervention.” ADIMTU’s data manager will soon be collecting data at the 6 control schools as well.
On the program front, Wendy worked with the ADIMTU team to develop a detailed curriculum guide that specifies week-by-week activities for the 3 core programs, La Vida de Mi Mama (My Mother’s Life), La Lectura Familiar (Family Reading Time), and Mi Hermanita (My Little Sister). Each change agent, supported by a university intern, will annotate and critique the curricula as she implements them, with regular group reviews to improve content and delivery. Between field visits, Wendy also supports the ADIMTU team from Boulder via email and skype calls.
On the very practical side, the group revisited their materials needs in light of program expansion, including the need for many more books, art materials and the like. Also in light of growth, they reviewed the practical logistics and related cost increases, such as transportation to the more distant schools and increased computer and cell phone support, and determined that their 2014 operating budget is $80,000.
During this field visit, the team also met with teachers from our 13 schools to prepare for the programs’ incorporation into the school day. The group reviewed the updated curricula and enthusiastically validated its synergy with Guatemala’s national curriculum. They also discussed the evaluation design and offered recommendations, always taken into account as these educators are very important allies on the ground.
And so the work continues. All indications are that 2014 will be a banner year for Leadership Institute programs. Our colleagues at ADIMTU are now reaching nearly 1100 middle school girls, their families and teachers, plus 300 or so 2nd and 3rd grade Little Sisters along with their families and teachers. The multipliers and ripple effects are terrific @ “just” $80,000 annually, which breaks down to a cost of few dollars per beneficiary with a rather high social rate of return on investment.
Your support for Women Work Together aligns you with ADIMTU’s genuine grassroots effort to shift community norms so that girls regularly attend and achieve in school and become community leaders in San Pedro Sacatepéquez, San Marcos, and across Guatemala. ¡Muchas gracias!
Mi Hermanita – My Little Sister - Expands as 2014 School Year Begins
Program Evaluation Launched to Measure Outcomes and Impact
Children across Guatemala are returning to school this month, embarking on a school year that runs from mid-January to the end of October. In San Pedro Sacatepéquez girls starting their last year of junior high/middle school (called básico, roughly equivalent to 7th, 8th & 9th grades) are especially excited. Why? Because this year all 300 9th graders in the 13 rural básicos across San Pedro can become a Big Sister and mentor a Little Sister in 2nd or 3rd grade, helping her with schoolwork, motivating her to try her best, and inspiring her to stay in school.
Having piloted Mi Hermanita in five schools during 2013, the Guatemalan staff is poised to expand the program to all of these schools. With this expansion, Mi Hermanita will engage directly with some 600 girls, i.e., Big and Little Sisters combined, along with each of their 600 mothers and many teachers.
According to Marianna, one of last year’s Big Sisters, (pictured below in the middle of two others, each preparing for her next meeting with her Little Sister), “Being a Big Sister to Alicia taught me a lot about myself. Because of her admiration and affection for me, I’m inspired to work even harder in school and be a good example for her. I’m so excited that Alicia is doing better in school, too, and she hardly ever misses a single day anymore! I really look forward to our get-togethers every week and so does she.”
The first workshop of this school year for cooperating teachers and school principals took place just last week. The program veterans among them eagerly shared with their colleagues the positive changes they’ve seen in school attendance, academic performance and self-confidence among both the older and younger girls who were in the pilot program. Working with what we’ve all learned from that experience, this year promises to be even more successful.
Adding to this prospect, during 2014 our participatory programs that support the Big Sisters will be offered on regular basis during their school day. This is a direct result of the program’s recognition and certification by Guatemala’s National Ministry of Education, along with only 12 other organizations nationally. This accreditation also places us in a select network of organizations that itself is a rich resource for sharing best practices and benefitting from one another’s experience promoting girls’ education as the most promising path out of poverty for communities across Guatemala.
Assessment and evaluation efforts looking at program effectiveness and impact will also be stepped up in this school year. Thanks to the professional leadership of WWT’s newest Board member, RoseMarie Perez Foster, Senior Research Specialist at the University of Colorado, Guatemalan staff has agreed on an evaluation design, collaborated in developing the required instruments, and has been trained in interviewing techniques, data collection, entry and compilation, etc. Beginning in mid-February, they will collect baseline data for all program participants and for a set of control schools. This will be compared to data collected in the fall at the end of the school year to assess changes, if any, in measures of school commitment and success, literacy achievement, self esteem, self efficacy, and the like.
As always, it takes more to do more. Your continued and increased financial support is key to this expansion and evaluation. This program is highly valued in all of these communities, motivating and inspiring them to send girls to school. Many thanks…your donations actually do change lives!
Mi Hermanita is the culminating project for middle school girls in San Pedro Sacatepéquez. By the time they become Big Sisters, the girls and their families have already participated in earlier projects about the importance and benefits of staying in school. They’ve learned about their mothers’ and grandmothers’ lives as compared to their own, and have taken responsibility for reading to their families at home.
Mi Hermanita challenges the teen girls to become agents of change, not just for themselves and their families, but now out in their communities. Through this service learning project, our girls actively use the knowledge they have gained in school in order to become a mentor and tutor, helping a second or third grade girl who is struggling with her studies.
On our recent trip to San Pedro in October, we again saw first-hand the growing impact this project is having in the rural communities where it is in full swing. Increasingly, the Big Sisters are taking ownership of their experience, renaming the project Mi Hermanita (My Little Sister) rather than Las Hermanitas (The Little Sisters) to reflect the personal empowerment that speaks directly to their individual experience. Now why hadn’t we thought of that?...Of course!
Mi Hermanita is fairly complex to run since it requires organization among our middle school girls and their teachers plus coordination with teachers and Little Sisters in the primary schools, along with parents of both sets of girls, so that the Big Sisters can visit their Little Sisters in their homes once a week.
While positive and encouraging overall, Mi Hermanita has its individual challenges. Hearing directly from the girls, we learned about some of their more difficult experiences, such as having to walk alone past fierce dogs or, in one case, feeling uncomfortable in a house where the father was drunk and angry. (This girl was quickly reassigned to a different Little Sister.) Some talked about how frustrated they felt at the start of the year, when their Little Sisters didn’t mind them or were not very motivated to learn because they were already behind in their schoolwork. At the same time, these same Big Sisters burst with pride, eager to explain that now, at the end of the school year, their Little Sisters had caught up to their peers, were excited for their Big Sisters to arrive each week, and eager to read, write, and practice math with them.
In one of the villages we visited 36 girls had adopted Little Sisters from five primary schools in surrounding communities who had been identified by their teachers as likely drop outs. Typically these younger girls have no one at home to help them with homework, as most mothers barely went to school themselves. And so the little girls struggle when they begin to confront academic subjects.
We met with this group of Big & Little Sisters and many of their mothers and grandmothers in the community hall, a cold dark building that came alive with their presence. There, on the stage, were a cluster of long legged girls in jeans, (their school day would begin in the afternoon so they were not yet in uniform) busily assembling the sound system for the program. There was not a teacher in sight. Soon clusters of little girls in school uniforms arrived with their teachers, then more and more until we had about 50 hermanitas in the room, and the program for the day was announced - again by the older girls. They spoke with great poise (using a microphone) about the program, sharing what they had learned and how important it had been for them and for their Little Sisters. Then Little Sisters spoke along with some of their mothers and grandmothers, all of it orchestrated by the older girls. It was truly impressive to witness the command, presence and poise these girls had on stage, when just 2 years ago they would have been giggling and looking at their feet in even a one-on-one conversation. Then 2 older girls were invited on to the stage with their 6 little sisters, who launched into a 10 minute choreographed dance performance Gangham style, complete with synchronized moves of hands and feet, shy smiles and a few giggles - but they carried through to the end. They were terrific, and received thundering applause. The older girls later told us that they each work with 3 little ones, and then they switch off, because they found it easier to overcome the small girls’ shyness if they all worked together - problem solving in action.
We later spoke with the Director of the middle school who is also a primary school teacher in the morning. He was very positive in his assessment of the project, describing the many benefits to both the older and younger girls. He said overall it was the most successful project that had come into the school to date, and was hopeful we would be able to continue with another group in the 2014 school year. He said it was the only tutoring program in the state, and urged that it be widely replicated. (We heartily agree!)
Throughout the 2013 school year, which in Guatemala runs from January – October, the staff of our local sister nonprofit, ADIMTU, has worked with the Big Sisters to develop participatory activities to use with their young charges. At their suggestion (and with support from donors) we equipped each Big Sister with a satchel of books, art materials and games to foster curiosity and a love of learning. This year we were able to provide additional book titles which included such classics (in Spanish) as: The Hungry Caterpillar, Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever, and Clifford the Big Red Dog Goes to School. All of the books, screened in advance by the ADIMTU team, proved incredibly popular and sought after by both Big and Little Sisters, and gave a big boost to the girls’ weekly sessions together.
With the addition of Dr. Theresa Preston Werner as Director of Evaluation to the WWT team, we’ve been able to implement a more comprehensive evaluation of all aspects of our work. Particular to this effort is to measure the girls’ own perceptions of the changes they have been able to make through their year-long work with their Little Sisters. At the end of this recent 2013 school year which runs from January thru October, the girls rated their Little Sisters as 5.73 out of 10 on average for academic abilities at the start of the year and 9.46 at the end, with an average increase of 4.08, thus demonstrating the value they themselves place on their time and contribution. In addition, teachers and parents of both the younger and older girls appreciate the responsibility demonstrated by the older girls along with the increased levels of academic achievement by the young ones.
This year we were also able to recognize the teachers who supported Mi Hermanita, gifting each of them a briefcase of school supplies that included such basics as pencils, pens, markers, staplers, rulers, pencil sharpeners, as well as a collection of 10 books for them to read for their own pleasure and interest. These were very well received and much appreciated, as normally teachers must supply themselves with everything they need.
Looking ahead, beginning in January 2014, Mi Hermanita will be folded into our newly restructured Leadership Institute, and will engage all Grade 9 girls in all of the 13 rural middle schools in San Pedro. This will be a capstone project for the oldest girls in middle school, and will build on our work with the grade 7 and grade 8 girls who will be involved in La Vida de Mi Mamá (My Mother’s Life) and La Lectura Familiar (Family Reading Time) respectively. All 3 projects have been in pilot phase with some girls over the last 2 years, and now, after testing, evaluation and restructuring as needed, are ready to be expanded to all rural middle school girls across San Pedro.
Simply put, it takes more to do more. Your continued and increased financial support is key to this expansion and highly valued in all of these communities, motivating and inspiring them to send girls to school.
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