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Achievement First Annual Report 2010

Achievement First Annual Report 2010

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Published by: Achievement First on Dec 15, 2010
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THE QuiET REvoluTion
 Achievement First 2010 Annual Report
Dear Friends,We believe that we are at the beginning o whatsome have called a “quiet revolution” in educationreorm. As a revolutionary prerequisite, there is agrowing awareness o the magnitude and impact o the problems we ace. According to a recent reportby the College Board, the United States once led theworld in the proportion o adults ages 25 to 34 withpostsecondary credentials—today we rank 12th.In other words, we are now in danger o producingthe rst generation o adults in modern times to beless educated than their parents. As we allowed anachievement gap to grow between the rest o theworld and us, we have also seen the rise o perniciousachievement gaps within our own country that leavelow-income students, on average, our years behindtheir middle- and high-income peers by the end o highschool. Behind all o these statistics are the aces o realkids and the lasting impact o an inadequate educationon individuals, amilies, communities and our country. Thankully, the much-needed revolution in educationpolicy and practice is starting to take hold. Inmany states, the unprecedented Race to the Topcompetition led to the passage o a number o statepolicy reorms that had historically been sidelinedby status quo politics but were nally passed withthe incentive o signicant ederal dollars. We areexperiencing a critical shit rom a ocus purely onprocess or inputs to a more balanced ocus onoutcomes, in part inspired by the great results o gap-closing schools. We saw the adoption o globallycompetitive, “common” learning standards acrossstates, requirements or perormance-based teacherevaluations, and support or the expansion o high-perorming charter schools. Across the country, moreprogress was made in state education policy in thepast 18 months than we had experienced in thepast 18 years.Just because this revolution is quiet does not mean itshould be underestimated—it is powerul and pickingup steam. This momentum has been ueled by thepowerul documentaries
The Lottery,
 A Right Denied 
Waiting for “Superman,”
all o which let millions o people with less patience to “wait” or more meaningulreorms. More people have realized that, especiallyin these tough economic times, nothing will do moreto ensure our long-term, collective prosperity thancreating outstanding public schools or all students. Agreat education can break the cycle o poverty and setall o our students up to compete in a global economy.It is this transormative power that compelled us toopen the rst Achievement First school more than 12years ago and that drives us today in our work with19 schools serving 5,400 students in Brooklyn, NY,and in Connecticut’s three biggest cities—New Haven,Bridgeport and Hartord. In Connecticut, our 2010results again showed our ourth- and eighth-gradestudents (the oldest students in our elementary andmiddle schools) outperorming state-wide averages,proving that the achievement gap can be closed—and that it can be closed at scale. We are pleasedto be ranked #1 in the state in Arican-Americanperormance at both the elementary and middle schoollevels. Sadly, our schools are amongst only a handulo schools in the state where Arican-Americans andlow-income students outperorm the state averages.We also celebrated the graduation o our rst highschool class with 100 percent o its students admittedto our-year colleges or universities. The perormanceo these schools and other top-perorming charterschools is setting the bar, dening what others seeas possible and providing powerul pressure or morewidespread reorm.While there is much to celebrate, 2010 was also achallenging year or Achievement First. In New York, theState Board o Regents raised the cut score or whatwas considered “procient”—a bold and much-neededmove to raise expectations or New York studentsto true college-prep levels. This change in standardsresulted in a signicant decline in student perormancescores across the state and at Achievement First. Wehad to conront the brutal act that, while our studentsstill outperormed their local districts and even the statein some subjects, it was painully obvious that we hadocused on the wrong standard and were not preparingthem well enough or the rigors o college.Fortunately, the entire Achievement First teamresponded to these challenges not with excuses orrustration, but with a call to action to do whatever ittakes to help our students meet the higher bar. Insteado taking it as grim news or Achievement First, thedisappointing 2010 New York results have served as awake-up call and catalyst. We are now more ocusedthan ever on helping our students get the great, gap-closing education they need and deserve. We knowthat, just as with our students, we are limited only bythe expectations we set or ourselves. As we celebrate another year o milestones andlearning, we want to thank you or your continuedsupport and partnership. The more we do this work, themore optimistic we become about the potential o ourcollective commitment to make a real dierence in thelives o kids and the uture they will create or all o us.
Dacia M. TollCo-CEODoug McCurryCo-CEOWilliam R. BerkleyBoard Chair
 We’re t clset reachg theedcatalPrmsed Lad,bt we may be atthe start  whatRahm Emaelcalls the
DaviD BrooksThe New York Times

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