A final report issued this summer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that evaluates Head Start programs in the United States suggests that school bus drivers are among agency employees who engage families and communities as well as assist in tracking a student's success in the federal program for low-income preschoolers.
The Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation, which was implemented by Congress after the program was reauthorized in 1998, published its final report in August. It lays out several recommendations for realizing data-driven outcomes for improving school readiness. This includes continuity of services that begin during a mother's pre-natal care and continues until the child is 8 years old.
Germane to othese outcomes, the report states, is the presence of a "high-quality service family service worker, or FSW, to focus on specific needs of families served by Head Start agencies. This specialized staff is in addition to school bus drivers, center directors and teachers who already are looked upon to engage families and communities.
School bus drivers are also integral in helping to determine the proficiency of dual language learners, students who are learning two or more languages at the same time or who are learning English as a second language while continuing to develop their first or home language. The report states that research shows that "teachers can be highly reliable in estimating a child's level of proficiency and English usage based on their observations of the child." The report adds that observations and insights from other staff who speak the child's home language and have contact with the child, such as bus drivers and family or health specialists, also can be collected through the use of a standardized form.