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America Forward on ESEA: Competition, Flexibility, and Data-Driven Results

America Forward on ESEA: Competition, Flexibility, and Data-Driven Results

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Published by newprofit
America Forward has united a coalition of education innovators to call for the timely reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, and to ensure the principles of transparency, effective teachers and leaders, flexibility paired with accountability, and support for data-driven innovations are included in the legislation.
America Forward has united a coalition of education innovators to call for the timely reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), also known as No Child Left Behind, and to ensure the principles of transparency, effective teachers and leaders, flexibility paired with accountability, and support for data-driven innovations are included in the legislation.

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Published by: newprofit on Sep 01, 2011
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America Forward on ESEA
Competition, Flexibility, and Data
Driven Results
Our nonprofit organizations, which work together as part of the America Forward Coalition, are inthousands of schools across the country and serve large numbers of low-income students. Ourmissions, while they vary in wording, boil down to a simple purpose: to ensure that all children,whatever their background, receive a first-class education, one that leads to economic security andthe chance for a successful life.Every day we are doing the hard work of helping low-income students succeed in school. Some of us provide a pipeline for teachers and principals, while others offer volunteers or national serviceparticipants to bolster the human capital available to schools. Some of us run charter schools, whileothers transform failing high-poverty schools through
interventions that build schools’ capacity to
confront nonacademic and academic barriers to student success and establish a positive culture forteaching and learning. Many of us provide critical student and family supports and improve accessto outside providers. Others provide additional learning opportunities for students
the ones that more affluent families can afford and utilize because they know what a difference theseopportunities make, but low-income children often go without. We work in early childhoodeducation, elementary and secondary schools, afterschool programs, and college access initiatives.We hold ourselves to high standards. We measure our results. And that is how we know we aremaking a difference.We also know what it takes to educate students, particularly those from challenging backgrounds,whether they attend traditional public schools, or charter schools, or are educated in other settings.We understand why too many schools in high-poverty communities fail the students they serve
and have done so for many years in spite of historic reform efforts. Students from high-povertybackgrounds often face challenges outside of school that they carry with them into the classroom.Yet too many of the schools that serve low-income students are unresponsive to their needs, andoperate in systems that make it difficult, if not impossible, to assemble the kind of skilled educators,comprehensive supports, and positive school culture that students need to learn and succeed.There is often consensus about the ingredients that successful school transformation requires.However the elements are rarely assembled together, in sufficient dose, with proper sequencing,for a sufficient time period. And all are essential to close the achievement gap
there is no magicbullet or shortcut that can take the place of an organized system of interventions that work together, along with families and communities, to enable students from high-poverty backgroundsto succeed in school.Good schools have strong, effective teachers
particularly when the students they serve faceheightened individual, family, and community adversities that translate into academic andbehavioral challenges in school. They are knowledgeable about data-driven instruction and areable to develop learning pathways for individual students. These teachers do not always come fromtraditional sources and must be leaders in their own right, possessing the skills to both manageclassrooms and engage students. Teachers must have access to appropriate supports designed to
remove barriers to learning. They must also be equippedwith the tools of learning, including technology, textbooks,and other instructional materials that are up to date and tiedto desired outcomes.Good schools have a positive culture for learning, with highstandards and high expectations for achievement; they arelaunch pads for postsecondary success, preparing allstudents to continue education and training in order toachieve career success and meet workforce demands.Good schools
often in collaboration with communitypartners
coordinate services and build systems designed toremove barriers to learning. Reforms must both address theneeds of students at highest risk (including the specificeffects of poverty on student learning) and penetrate thewhole school, creating an environment that fosters student achievement.Good schools have principals who are strong leaders, able toattract, retain, and support a motivated instructional team,build a strong positive culture, use data to inform every daydecision making, and engage families and communities toassemble the comprehensive resources and services that children need to be engaged learners. Often these resourcescome from nonprofit partners who augment and leveragethe human, financial, and knowledge resources that areavailable from public sources.Over the last several decades, different theories of changehave influenced federal education policy. Some havesuggested that if only more financial resources wereavailable
if teachers were better paid or classes smaller
 results would follow. If we started earlier, with high qualityearly childhood education, all children could succeed. If parents had school choices and competition played a role inresource allocation, schools would improve. If we addressednon-academic barriers to learning, children would thrive. Orif we set high standards with teeth, schools would get better.On their own, none of these theories have proven sufficient.But they each hold a part of the solution. Financial resourcescan make a difference, but only if they are well spent. Earlychildhood education is important, especially for low-income
children, but its promise won’t be realized if it is followed by
poor quality elementary and secondary schools. Addressingnon-academic barriers to learning is critical, but cannot 
Promise Alliance
Founded in 1997 with General Colin
Powell as Chairman, America’s
Promise Alliance is a cross-sectorpartnership of more than 400 nationalorganizations from the private,nonprofit and public sectors and 100state and community networks. TheAlliance is dedicated to providing allchildren, especially the most vulnerable, with the fundamentalresources they need to succeed. It calls these the Five Promises: caringadults, safe places, a healthy start, aneffective education and opportunitiesto help others.
America’s Promise’s
top priority is ending the dropout crisis in America through its GradNation campaign, a ten yearcommitment to mobilize communitiesto bring the needed support tostudents who attend the lowest performing high schools and theirfeeder schools.
 AppleTree Institute for EducationInnovation
AppleTree Institute for Education isdedicated to closing the achievement 
gap before kindergarten. AppleTree’s
network of high-performingpreschools in D.C. has charted vastlyimproved outcomes for vulnerablechildren, far outpacing Head Start programs and other leading Pre-Kprograms nationally. Its
gain an average of 18 standard pointsin two years on the Peabody PictureVocabulary Test, where a gain of fourpoints is considered significant.
AppleTree’s successes earned an
Investing in Innovation Fund (i3)
grant in 2010 to develop “Every ChildReady” into a full instructional
program with tools, technology,training, assessment and professionaldevelopment so that it can beeffectively replicated at scale.
make up for poor instructional programs and inadequateclassroom management practices. Competition ensures that effective schools and external partners receive resources,
while those that aren’t effective don’t. Schools should have
incentives to engage outside organizations that deliverresults and be rewarded when they do. And standards,coupled with appropriate assessments, are key toaccountability to help us know what works and to makeinformed resource allocation decisions. In short, reformefforts must do it all
from a place of political will that empowers, incentivizes, and resources the kind of comprehensive, locally based systematic change that isneeded.Here is what we believe is the right federal role:First, we believe that it is essential for the federalgovernment to even the playing field for low-incomestudents. Specifically, federal resources should be bothtargeted (to reach schools with high percentages of low-income and other high-need students, including preschool-aged children) and flexible (enabling school leaders andcommunities to identify and adopt the supports andassistance they need to provide top talent, tools, andsupports to students). In many cases, this support andassistance will come from nonprofit partners, which shouldbe selected based on their fit with school needs and theirtrack records of performance.In the past, most federal dollars have stayed within thepublic education system because federal programs allowedfor limited flexibility or because schools had incentives tospend money internally. Even so, nonprofits like ours havedeveloped and grown, building strong records of impact inpartnership with schools. However, none of us operates at the scale needed, largely due to the weaknesses of capitalmarkets available to us. Therefore, we should not only openfederal funding streams to nonprofits through schooldistricts, we should also provide incentives for districts toengage effective nonprofits to address the breadth and depthof student need. We believe that a share of financialresources should be made available directly to innovativenonprofits at the national level on a competitive basis basedon their evidence of cost-savings and demonstratedeffectiveness.
Be the Change, Inc.
Be The Change, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to re-imagining American democracy forthe 21st century. Inspired by thebelief that America needs a newagenda, new politics, and a new rolefor government, Be The Changeseeks to create a more idealisticand vibrant democracy in whichcitizens and citizen action are at thecenter of politics and policy making.
Be The Change’s signature effort,
ServiceNation, is a campaign that works to usher in a new era of volunteer service in America. In2010, Be The Change launchedOpportunityNation, a campaigndedicated to promoting citizen-driven solutions to fighting povertyand creating more opportunity forcitizens across the country.
The Children’s Aid Society
The Children’s Aid Society (CAS)
helps children in poverty tosucceed and thrive by providingcomprehensive supports tochildren and their families intargeted high-need New York Cityneighborhoods. Today, CAStouches the lives of more than70,000 children and families eachyear in our network of communitycenters, community schools, andhealth clinics which are organizedinto service hubs concentrated inthe South Bronx, Harlem,Washington Heights, and StatenIsland. CAS provides education andyouth development services, fostercare and preventive services, after-school, weekend and summerenrichment, early childhoodprograms, teen pregnancyprevention, comprehensive healthservices (including medical, mentalhealth, and dental), and programsfor disconnected youth, includingprograms for young people whohave been incarcerated or are at hih risk of incarceration.

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