Identification and recruitment of migrant families and students is challenging. The most obvious way to identify students is mobility, however there are also very detailed and specific considerations needed in order to make an eligibility determination. The federal Office of Migrant Education (OME) at the U.S. Department of Education has put forth regulations and non-regulatory guidance, based on federal statute (Title I, Part C). The federal tool for recruiting a student is the Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Once the COE has been completed, it is reviewed by a quality control committee. Only after determination of eligibility, services begin. Identification and recruitment is usually done by referrals from schools, migrant families and employers. Recruitment can occur in a variety of places (rural, urban or suburban) and each presents its own challenges. Collaboration with members of the community is essential in identifying and recruiting migrant children/youth. The burden of certifying that a family is migrant, for the purpose of services, falls on the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Student Leadership/Special Projects
High School – The Student Leadership Institute has been in operation since 1989 as an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Migrant Education Program (PA-MEP). Each summer 50 high school students attend a six-day residential college-level institute where they receive instruction in writing, public speaking and community service. The highlight of the Student Leadership Institute is a debate at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives where students are divided in two groups each representing a different side of an issue that is selected by them in consultation with the director's input. Additionally, students complete their college essays during the Institute. Students are encouraged to return to their communities and become active, contributing members.
Middle School – The five-day residential middle school leadership program, Youth Power, has been in existence since 2010. Youth Power is a revolutionary, innovative and interactive series of student leadership workshops geared towards nurturing the leadership skills within students to achieve personal growth, resulting in a desire to create positive change in their lives and community. Over the course of five days, the Youth Power team engages students with a combination of team building activities, small group discussions and individual personal development assignments. Most notably, students prepare and present their educational five-year plan.
Congressional Awards – The Congressional Awards is the U.S. Congress' Award for Young Americans. It is a non-partisan, voluntary and non-competitive program open to all 14- to 23-year-olds. Youth may earn certificates or medals (Bronze, Silver and Gold) depending on their attainment in four areas: Volunteer Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness and Expedition/Exploration. This award is a great opportunity for students to set and accomplish goals and challenges. The award is self-paced. Earning the Award is a fun and interesting way to get more involved in something the youth already enjoy or something they would like to try for the first time. Regardless of the youth's situation, he/she can earn the Congressional Award. The Congressional Award has no minimum grade point average requirements. It accommodates young people with special needs or disabilities who are willing to take the challenge. Many PA-MEP migrant students participate in the Congressional Awards and have earned recognition at the Bronze, Silver and Gold medal ceremonies.
Student Academic Support
Before/Afterschool /Saturday Tutoring – As a supplemental program, PA-MEP's main priority is to connect students with afterschool programs provided by the school or community. PA-MEP staff ensures that students who have a reading and/or math need and who meet the eligibility criteria, enroll in those programs first. Follow-up is provided to ensure attendance and progress of migrant students. If students are not eligible for other programs or no other programs are available, PA-MEP provides tutoring beyond school hours. Tutoring may also be provided to those students who, despite attending another program, are not making progress. Some tutoring may be done in-home on a one-on-one basis.
Summer School – PA-MEP has award-winning supplemental summer programs. The National Summer Learning Association recognized PA-MEP with the Summer Excellence Award in 2011. Since the 1960's, the PA-MEP has been providing exemplary summer programs for the children of migrant farmworkers. PA-MEP's summer programs are essential in preventing the "summer backslide," wherein English language learners and children from low income households can lose up to three months growth in reading during the summer months. The PA-MEP summer program utilizes a thematic unit focus with resources developed to support primary content areas of math, language arts/reading, science, history or geography. Arts and music play an important role at each site, as well as technology. In many sites ecology, green living and service learning are incorporated. We view our comprehensive programming as a model for schools rather than the reverse. Our students are confident in their environment where culture, language and diversity is expected and respected. Programs operate typically for four or five weeks, for four to five days, with six instructional hours per day. All campus programs require a minimum of 110 hours of instruction each summer. The content (i.e. curriculum) changes each summer so eligible PA-MEP students can attend for three years and not repeat content. The program does include transition grades: 5-year-olds attending kindergarten the following school year; students going from elementary into middle school and from middle school into high school. We also have credit accrual programs so that students that have had school year interruption complete high school in time. Physical activity is typically between 30 minutes to an hour each day and includes swimming, soccer and other forms of physical education. Partnerships with many school districts and agencies provide students with a richer experience. Parent involvement and culmination activities are part of every program.
Regular Term – During the regular school term, PA-MEP staff checks on student progress and facilitates enrollment in school/out-of-school educational opportunities that will assist migrant student progress. PA-MEP staff also assists with registration and act as liaisons with the school to ensure parent involvement and other activities (e.g. parent-teacher conferences). See also, before/afterschool/Saturday tutoring.
Life Skills and Reconnection – PA-MEP serves out-of-school youth, which are youth individuals younger than 22 who have not graduated from high school or completed their GED. Throughout the year, out-of-school youth are provided with English as a Second Language (ESL) and life-skill lessons that will enable them to get acquainted with life in America and prepare them for high school reconnection or GED. For many youth, work is their first priority. Out-of-school youth service providers have to be creative to engage this population. Services can be provided at places of employment, schools or in-home.
Preschool Services – The main goal of preschool services is to prepare students for kindergarten. First, we try to enroll students in developmentally-appropriate and Pennsylvania-certified programs. If students are not admitted or placed in a waiting list, PA-MEP staff provides center-based or in-home learning. Each migrant student ages 3-5 are assessed using the Migrant School Readiness Checklist. Students receive an initial, school year and summer assessment to indicate their level of preparedness for kindergarten. Parents are part of this assessment. They are encouraged to participate in in-home activities with their children, as their child's first teacher.
Migrant students face obstacles in earning a high school diploma due to their mobility. They may not have their records or may have many incomplete courses. Through credit accrual programs, accepted by school districts, students are able to complete courses during the school year or summer.
Binational Migrant Education Program
For many years, the U.S. Office of Migrant Education (OME) has had a Binational Agreement with Mexico for cultural and educational teacher exchanges, among other elements. PA-MEP does a teacher exchange program with Mexico for five weeks in the summer. Six to eight teachers from Mexico come to Pennsylvania to work with the migrant children at different sites. The country's culture and history is shared with the students. Having Mexican teachers as part of the Binational Exchange provides authentic enrichment for our students and helps them continue to develop their Spanish language skills as well as their appreciation for and pride in their Mexican culture. In addition, when possible, we assist students returning to Mexico to have a filled out Transfer Document.
To learn more about the Binational Migrant Education Program, visit the U.S. Department of Education's
Office of Migrant Education website.
Consortium Incentive Grants
Section 1308 of Title I Part C, allows for states to work together in consortia agreements. These are two-year agreements where states work together for intrastate and interstate coordination. There are currently four consortia focusing on Out-of-School Youth, Literacy, Math and Binational communication between the United States and Mexico. The consortia grants that the Pennsylvania Department of Education is participating in is: Comprehensive Online Reading Education (CORE) as a partner state; the Strategies, Opportunities and Services for Out-of-School Youth (SOSOSY); and Using Innovative Educational Technologies (InET).
The objective of CORE is to create effective supplemental online instruction for emergent readers for Migrant Education Programs. This consortium grant concentrates on literacy skills – reading, writing, study skills and gradation plans. The objective of SOSOSY is to provide services based on scientifically-based research to improve the educational attainment of out-of-school migratory youth whose education is interrupted. The objective of InET is expanding access to innovative educational technologies to increase the academic achievement of migrant students whose education is disrupted due to frequent moves across state lines and international borders.