Dear Friends,We believe that we are at the beginning o whatsome have called a “quiet revolution” in educationreorm. 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. Thankully, 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 reorms that had historically been sidelinedby status quo politics but were nally passed withthe incentive o signicant ederal dollars. We areexperiencing a critical shit 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 perormance-based teacherevaluations, and support or the expansion o high-perorming 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 powerul and pickingup steam. This momentum has been ueled by thepowerul documentaries
A Right Denied
Waiting for “Superman,”
all o which let millions o people with less patience to “wait” or more meaningulreorms. 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 transormative 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 Hartord. In Connecticut, our 2010results again showed our ourth- and eighth-gradestudents (the oldest students in our elementary andmiddle schools) outperorming 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 Arican-Americanperormance at both the elementary and middle schoollevels. Sadly, our schools are amongst only a handulo schools in the state where Arican-Americans andlow-income students outperorm 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 perormanceo these schools and other top-perorming charterschools is setting the bar, dening what others seeas possible and providing powerul pressure or morewidespread reorm.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 “procient”—a bold and much-neededmove to raise expectations or New York studentsto true college-prep levels. This change in standardsresulted in a signicant decline in student perormancescores across the state and at Achievement First. Wehad to conront the brutal act that, while our studentsstill outperormed their local districts and even the statein some subjects, it was painully obvious that we hadocused 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 orrustration, 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 dierence in thelives o kids and the uture they will create or all o us.
Dacia M. TollCo-CEODoug McCurryCo-CEOWilliam R. BerkleyBoard Chair
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DaviD BrooksThe New York Times