Secretary Duncan Recognizes Impact of Strive Cradle to Career Initiatives
Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education recently made the last stop on his bus tour to connect with educators across the country. He was in the San Diego-area meeting with key players and, specifically, visiting a Promise Neighborhood in Chula Vista that we have heard is doing great work.
As part of Duncan’s comments, he noted that there was innovation happening outside the investment the administration had made in communities. He specifically pointed at the work underway in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood called the Partnership for Children. This work is being led by a host of community partners and is staffed by the local United Way. It is a remarkable effort to start small and scale purposefully across the region. They have embraced the Framework and are demonstrating how best to engage residents and community partners around what the data says works for kids. We have had the honor of supporting them with United Way Worldwide as a part of our work them, along with target, to help better understand how United Ways can anchor this work.
We Have to Build Partnerships
But the underlying point behind why he referenced our work together was more profound: we can’t wait on anyone to solve complex social problems. It’s nice if a major federal grant is available to support this work – although we have seen that starting this work around a funding opportunity can cause more problems than one might think – but there will never be enough money to spark universal action. Community leaders of all types, at all levels, and from all backgrounds must stand up on their own to take responsibility for the success of every child. We have to build partnerships with this as the primary motivator: the potential of children as opposed to the almighty dollar.
I will admit to feeling a moment of pride when the Secretary mentioned the nearly 100 communities that are a part of the Cradle to Career Network because the majority was not started with any additional money in hand. They were started because leadership on the ground recognized the urgency of the matter. They recognized that they needed a new way of doing business. They started with the goals and outcomes in mind above all else. Communities from Anchorage to Albuquerque and Richmond to Red Wing are moving in the right direction for the right reasons.
But we have a long way to go.
A Challenge from the Department
Secretary Duncan’s Acting Deputy Secretary for the Department of Education, Jim Shelton, told me the other day that the one thing we could do for the field was to get some proof points. We need to get more examples of the power of this work not just to bring adults together, but to move the dial on child outcomes.
The time is now to demonstrate how the rigor and discipline needed to build cradle to career civic infrastructure can indeed change the outcomes for children across the country. So the pride quickly turned to determination. The Secretary was not patting us on the back, he was calling us out. We have to get from enthusiasm to impact. We are certainly on our way. But let’s not stop until the results we need for kids are actually achieved, and every parent in City Heights, San Diego, and the nation knows their child is going to succeed every step of the way, cradle to career.
Earlier today, I was reviewing sight words with my kindergartner and as we made our way down the list, she kept having trouble with one word in particular. She became very frustrated and wanted to quit, which lead to my panic thinking she wasn’t demonstrating self-efficacy, grit, perseverance or many of the very important social emotional competencies we so often read about.
What are Social Emotional Competencies?
No matter what you call them – social emotional, non-cognitive, non-academic competencies – social and emotional learning is proving to be key indicators to student success and thus are generating a great deal of buzz. With his book, How Children Succeed, Paul Tough found that children were challenged to develop these social and emotional competencies regardless of their socioeconomic status. For rich kids a sheltered life with helicopter parents often deprived the kids of the types of experiences that helped to build strong character. And for poorer kids, growing up in a stressful, unstable environment can result in negative feelings and distractions that challenge learning. In the last week, a New York Times Magazine article, Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught, on this same subject has been making the rounds both in education circles and on the Facebook pages of many of my fellow mom friends because it raises the question of whether or not emotional intelligence is inherent or can be learned and it offers some examples of interventions that seem to be seeing some success in teaching these competencies.
How do You Measure Social Emotional Competencies?
Of course in order to determine which interventions are having impact, you must first be able to measure success. And measurement is one of the greatest challenges in this space. It’s extremely difficult to measure social and emotional learning competencies. Numerous assessment tools have been developed, but very few of these tools have been implemented at scale or nationally normed and they seldom demonstrate strong validity and reliability. The tools, often in the form of scales and rubrics, tend to measure one or two competencies and are, at times, difficult and laborious to administer. The good news is that as a result of the buzz around this topic, a number of researchers, organizations like the Search Institute, and large assessment companies like ACT are working to develop more effective and efficient ways of assessing these competencies at scale.
Placing Social Emotional Competencies on the Roadmap
So, what does all of this mean for cradle to career partnerships? To start, one of the foundational elements in this work is its holistic approach to student learning. This is demonstrated through a core visual representation of the work that started with the Strive Partnership and has been adapted by communities across the Cradle to Career Network. The Student Roadmap to Success has an upper half focused on core academic outcomes and a lower half focused on non-academic, non-cognitive, student and family support. And the cross-sector nature of cradle to career partnerships and the critical role of learning partners from youth-serving organizations in this work necessitate a focus on both halves of this Roadmap in order to ensure student success.
Even so, because work in this field is so new and emergent, Cradle to Career Partnerships have struggled with how to approach measurement in this space. And so, the Strive Task Force on Measuring Social and Emotional Learning launched early this year in an attempt to make some recommendations to the Cradle to Career Network on how to approach measurement in this area. The end result is a comprehensive reviews of the literature as it relates to some of the core social and emotional competencies that lead to improved cradle to career academic outcomes. Coupled with the lit review and recommended competency list is an overview of the measures for these competencies and a compendium with more than 100 measurement tools that can be used for assessment in this space. It is a tremendous resource for Cradle to Career Partnerships and a great contribution to the field.
At the Strive Cradle to Career Network Convening in Dallas, TX, we will distribute the report entitled, Beyond Content: Incorporating Social and Emotional Learning into the Strive Framework.
Susan Philliber of Philliber Research Associates, who worked with us to produce this report, will join to moderate a panel during the Breakfast Plenary, “Understanding and Measuring Beyond Content Learning,” on Friday, September 27, 2013. Following the Convening release, this report will go live on the www.strivenetwork.org website as a resource to the Network and broader field.
In the meantime, what we need from Cradle to Career partnerships are stories about how this work is playing out on the ground in your community. Are you currently using assessment tools in this space? If so, which ones and how is it going? We want to hear from you about your experience –both successes and challenges.
This is the fifth blog in a six-blog series on community engagement. To read the first blog, click here. To read the second blog, click here. To read the third blog, click here. To read the fourth blog, click here.
As we continue our series on the crucial role of community engagement in collective impact, it is becoming apparent that while engagement remains important across all the gateways of the Strive Theory of Action, the specific strategies and ways to engage differ greatly. The strategies for community engagement in the exploring gateway of the Strive Theory of Action, highlighted in the third blog of this series, were around laying the foundation for deep community engagement and mobilization. Community engagement strategies in the emerging gateway, highlighted in the previous blog, start to involve the community more actively in the work and priorities of the partnership. Community engagement in the sustaining gateway builds off of this action through the involvement of community in solution development and implementation while continuing the flow of communication and awareness. See below for examples of community engagement, specifically called out in the sustaining gateway of the Strive Theory of Action.
Community Engagement in the Sustaining Gateway:
-Regularly and consistently informing community: Keeping the community updated on the work of the partnership is important to establish a transparent relationship with the community, as well as to build the necessary awareness of the partnership’s efforts to improve the community-level outcomes. Consistent awareness and understanding of the work of the partnership is necessary, especially with an ultimate goal of community mobilization and ownership around community-level outcomes. Holding community update meetings, sending regular newsletters, or engaging in other awareness campaigns to regularly and consistently inform the community are examples of transactional engagement.
-Release of the report card: Releasing a report card, similar to the release of a baseline report, provides a great opportunity to engage the community in a conversation around the data for the community-level outcomes and any changes that have occurred from the baseline year data. Additionally, with the release of report cards after the baseline year, the partnership needs to communicate the work it is doing to improve community outcomes through collaborative action networks and community campaigns. This communication strategy provides a platform to then mobilize the community to take action and plug into the work of the partnership to help improve community-level outcomes. Engaging the community in the release of the report card and community-level outcome data is a form of transactional engagement.
-Collaborative action feedback loop: Using local data to drive student success through a continuous improvement process is core to the cradle to career approach. One pivotal piece of data that can’t be overlooked is the voice of the customer (or in this case, community members who are impacted by the work). Collaborative Action Networks, groups of appropriate cross-sector practitioners and individuals who organize around a community-level outcome and use a continuous improvement process to develop an action plan with strategies to improve that outcome, often build a community feedback loop into their process to test their data-driven strategies against the voice of those impacted by their work. This feedback loop allows the community to be involved in the decision-making and strategy-setting to improve community-level outcomes, an example of transformational engagement.
-Mobilizing community to improve outcomes: When data-driven strategies arise to improve community-level outcomes, the mobilization of the community to participate in these strategies can be crucial to success. Different approaches involve the community in different ways, but often a campaign to mobilize the community to take action (like becoming a tutor or a reading volunteer) is launched to involve the community in the improvement of a community-level outcome. The mobilizing of the community to take action can help reinforce the shared accountability of the entire community to improve the community-level outcomes and is an example of transitional engagement.
If you have an example from your own community on how you have effectively engaged the community- we would love to hear of and learn from your experience!
Check back soon for the next community engagement blog about community engagement in the systems change gateway of the Strive Theory of Action! Also, plan to join us September 25-27th in Dallas for the 2013 Strive Cradle to Career Network Convening where we will be diving into the topic of community engagement in more detail!
When Dr. Antonio Hurt drives around the inner-city Baltimore neighborhood surrounding Frederick Douglass High School, he doesn’t see bleak, boarded up houses – he sees only his students and their families.
“My first goal upon coming to Frederick Douglass High School three years ago was to embed myself in the community,” said Dr. Hurt or “Doc” as both students and faculty call him. Once the influential alumni community began to know and trust him, Dr. Hurt could really get down to business.
When Dr. Hurt arrived at Frederick Douglass, the 125 year old school with a rich history of producing nationally-known graduates like U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and bandleader Cab Calloway had become a place of failure, sabotage and complacency. Stories from those days use language that makes the school sound like a literal war zone. Staff recalls Dr. Hurt saying that if he only did one thing, he was going to restore humanity.
With the help of EDWorks, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, Dr. Hurt and Frederick Douglass High School have moved far beyond that initial goal. In 2012, Frederick Douglass hit its state academic targets for the first time in 15 years and they did so again in 2013, with 19 percentage point gains in math and 17 percentage point gains in English since 2010.
Students are now proactively coming to adults in the building to own their own achievement and future plans. At the last school open house, 250 parents showed up, compared with just a handful of parents at similar events in the past. Staff and students frequently talk about “Finding Thurgood” – the belief that the next Thurgood Marshall is sitting right next to you in class.
When someone challenges Dr. Hurt, saying that this success is the result of a charismatic leader with an unusual set of resources, he responds that this work can be done by focusing on basic levers that every school is capable of influencing: 1) Vision/leadership; 2) Instruction; 3) Data; and 4) Student Supports. We will be exploring these elements (adapted from rubrics EDWorks shares with schools) or what Frederick Douglass calls “Operation Graduation” more deeply in an upcoming set of white papers and blogs.
Dr. Hurt will not stop at turnaround; he wants Frederick Douglass to be among the best high schools in the country. He has been searching for the past few years and says that he has not found an example of that caliber of school situated in a similar neighborhood. Dr. Hurt vows that Douglass will be that national model of greatness: “Our goal is to become that place where principals and teachers can come to believe.”
A new policy and advocacy focus for KnowledgeWorks is multi-school, multi-district state level interventions. We are defining this as innovation zones, partnership zones, districts of innovation, feeder patterns and state turnaround districts. You will be able to read more about this in the coming weeks but, for now, let’s focus on what’s happening in Virginia.
On July 1, House Bill 2096, establishing the Opportunity Educational Institution (OEI), went into effect. According to a summary on Virginia’s Legislative Information System, HB 2096:
Creates the Opportunity Educational Institution to be administered and supervised by the Opportunity Educational Institution Board. The bill requires any school that has been denied accreditation and permits any school that has been accredited with warning for three consecutive years to be transferred to the Institution and remain in the Institution for five years or until the school achieves full accreditation. The bill also sets forth requirements for student attendance, staffing, and funding for the Institution.
The OEI won’t be implemented without a challenge. The Virginia School Board Association and the Norfolk City School Board, Norfolk City Schools is home to two schools that would be taken over by OEI, have filed a lawsuit asking a judge to stop the state-run district from getting off the ground. According to this District Dossier post by Jackie Zubrzycki, the basis of the lawsuit asserts that the OEI is unconstitutional, “The VSBA and Norfolk challenge alleges that, while the state’s constitution requires that schools be overseen by a school board, the board that’s overseeing the OEI is a branch of the executive office. It also says that the state board of education is tasked with creating school districts, but the OEI was created by the state’s legislature.”
I tend to agree with this Education Week article by Andrew Ujifusa that this is a high profile fight between local school boards and state officials over who should have control, and I believe responsibility, over failing schools. I also think the lawsuit in Virginia could set other states up to create state run turnaround districts or, depending on the outcome of the lawsuit, local officials to challenge such state-wide districts. The show in Virginia is one worth watching.
Community engagement is an integral piece of the cradle to career approach and a theme that is inherent in the work across the Theory of Action. The strategies for community engagement in the exploring gateway of the Strive Theory of Action, highlighted in the third blog of this series, were specifically around laying the foundation for deep community engagement and mobilization. The community engagement strategies in the emerging gateway start to involve the community more actively in the work and priorities of the partnership. See below for examples of community engagement, specifically called out in the emerging gateway of the Strive Theory of Action.
Community Engagement in the Emerging Gateway:
-Release of the baseline report: Publicly reporting on the baseline data for community-level outcomes and indicators presents an important opportunity to engage the community in a conversation around the data and the purpose of the partnership. Moving to a norm where data is used often and effectively in the community requires the first step of being comfortable with the data, of having a basic understanding of it. The release of a baseline report is a great way to initiate and foster that understanding, and it shows the partnership’s commitment to share data with the community. Engaging the community in the release of a baseline report and initiating a conversation around the data is an example of transactional engagement.
-Prioritizing community-level outcomes: Very few partnerships have the capacity and resources to work on improving all outcomes at once, so the prioritization of the outcomes becomes necessary to ensure success. Prioritization is based off of a number of different factors, one of which is community momentum. Understanding the existing community assets and recognizing where momentum already exists in the community helps to determine outcome areas where community support and resources can help drive success faster than in other outcome areas. The prioritization of outcomes is a great way to plug in information gathered from prior engagement efforts and to actively use community voice in the decision-making and direction-setting of the partnership. This is an example of using information gathered through transactional forms of engagement for decision-making and direction-setting of the partnership.
If you have example from your own community on how you have effectively engaged the community- we would love to hear of and learn from your experience!
Check back soon for the next community engagement blog about community engagement in the sustaining gateway of the Strive Theory of Action! Also, plan to join us September 25-27th in Dallas for the 2013 Strive Cradle to Career Network Convening where we will be diving into the topic of community engagement in more detail!
Social Impact Bonds Overview
An emerging approach in the United States to support evidence-based social programs is social impact bonds, which we consider part of the larger impact investing sector. Social impact bonds provide investment capital to fund evidence-based social programs delivered by highly effective providers. In this model, as currently executed, government agencies agree to pay external organizations a pre-arranged sum, and they agree to return the investor’s principle, but only if the funded programs achieve predefined results and presumably create cost savings as well in order to fund the returns.
According to Social Finance, social impact bonds require interventions and programs that are evidence-based, provide sufficient net savings within a time horizon, and are replicable and scalable. Ultimately the financing vehicle attempts to bring new money to address and advance qualifying social outcomes – we consider this an ‘expanding the pie’ strategy and funding to be potentially additive to the work in Strive cradle to career communities.
Using Data to Make Decisions
Presently, we see preliminary alignment between the social impact bond concept and the work that happens in Strive Cradle to Career Communities. The initial component to the social impact bond financing model is the need for rigorous data. As the Strive Theory of Action asks for routine collection and analysis of key data points, we feel comfortable that our more advanced sites could be in a position to provide meaningful outcomes data necessary to support social impact bonds. We would expect that sites that have implemented a comprehensive data system and focused on student-level data would be particularly well-suited in this regard. However, there would be a significant lift to provide data in support of social impact bonds that may extend beyond current data practices in less mature cradle to career sites.
Saving Costs and Supporting Outcomes
The next criteria, demonstration of clear cost savings over a defined time horizon, suggests that the social impact bonds would have to be anchored around very specific and visible transition points in the cradle to career pipeline. Reasonably, we are looking at social outcomes that emerge within two years of intervention and can be affirmatively verified.
For example, for the social impact bond that is supporting early education in Salt Lake City, UT, the social outcome is reducing the number of children who are placed in special or remedial education based on their participation in the Utah High Quality Preschool Program. At the time of their entry into school, investors will know how many students are and are not in special or remedial education and related cost savings to the public can immediately be calculated. In Strive communities, you could see a corollary to students at not only the school entry point but also those entering higher education without the need for remedial coursework and then demonstrate related public costs savings. As currently constructed, social impact bonds do rely on a cost savings or cost avoidance model though an economic benefit or value creation model could be considerably more compelling to private investors.
Positioning to Scale
Finally, the scalability question for Strive relies heavily on our ability to align communities on a discrete set of materially similar outcomes, and as previously mentioned, have consistent and reliable data to provide the evidence base. As we look across our Network, sites in Sustaining and System Change are more likely candidates for this type of model if only based on their existing data collection processes and evidence-based provider base.
At the Strive Cradle to Career Network Convening in Dallas, TX, we will have some of the nation’s leading experts discussing social impact bonds and their potential application to cradle to career communities during the Lunch Plenary, “Social Impact Bonds: How Civic Infrastructure Helps Sites Get Ready for Creative Financing,” on Thursday, September 26, 2013. In addition to leaders from KnowledgeWorks, the Lumina Foundation, United Way Salt Lake City, and the U.S. Department of Education, executives from both Social Finance and Third Sector Capital Partners will join the conversation. We look forward to exploring this emerging financial model with our sites in a few weeks.
 Alden, William. “Goldman Sachs to Finance Early Education Program.” New York Times. 12 June 2013.
You hear it daily -- the mantra "college and career ready." What you don't hear is consensus on "what" this looks like and "how" we are going to improve the state of play. Recent news from New York state student assessments confirm what many of us know --most high school graduates are not ready to perform college work.
For the past several years, we’ve been referring to students as “learners” in our strategic foresight publications as one way of making the point that we need to rethink not just how, when, and where learning occurs but also what relationships exist in relation to it. As I’ve worked with education stakeholders around the country to envision their ideal future learning ecosystems, the structures and details have varied, but the designs have consistently put learners at the center.
When the staff of NC New Schools approached this task last month, one of the groups decided that “learners” didn’t go far enough in conveying the change that needs to take place. Instead, they deliberately placed “scholars” at the center of their learning ecosystem map in order to make the point that young people need to become active agents of their own learning.
Their map placed self-directed scholars at the center of the future learning ecosystem surrounded by and moving seamlessly across physical, virtual, and community-based learning experiences. Their map also depicted a whole host of learning agents supporting each scholar toward success. Those learning agents ranged from parents and friends to life coaches, healthcare providers, advisors and learning mentors, policymakers and budget managers, community organizers, and business liaisons.
Both the emphasis on the word “scholar” and this broad view of future learning agent roles underscore the need to expand our mental models about every aspect of teaching and learning. As we face the exciting and monumental task of transforming learning to make best use of the disruptive forces shaping our future, we need to question every assumption. Redesigning learning around learners – or scholars – means reconsidering every aspect of it and being willing to discover multiple good solutions. It also means questioning and spanning boundaries and getting far more granular than we have been about how to support each individual in reaching his or her full potential.
As our recent infographic highlights, it’s looking possible for learning to adapt to each child instead of each child trying to adapt to school. But we have to be willing to let learning look quite different than it did when we were in school, and quite different from one scholar to another.
With the start of a new academic school year, we thought teachers and directors would like to hear from New Tech alumni as they continue post-secondary journeys.
With the start of a new academic school year, we thought teachers and directors would like to hear from New Tech alumni as they continue post-secondary journeys.
In an online article posted July 8th, 2013, the Grand Rapids Press (my local paper) reported that nearly 47% of high school graduates in the state of Michigan are taking remedial courses at the college level to get their abilities up to par with their universities’ expectations. In plain English, that means that nearly half of the students in my state are graduating from high school without the fundamental skills (typically in math and reading/writing) that post-secondary institutions are expecting them to have.
At the Council of Chief State School Officers’ deputies’ meeting in July, I shared the big story of our forecast on the future of learning, Recombinant Education, as a way of situating a conversation that Education Delivery Institute was leading on building state education agencies’ capacity. The forecast served as a frame for encouraging deputies to examine their strategies and operations in the context of aspirational visions for learning in their states.
In addition to underscoring the possibility of enabling radically personalized learning that prepares every child for college or career, the conversation raised the need to manage against potential negative outcomes of future trends. As with any future forecast, it is possible with ours to draw out scenarios that we would not wish to see realized. For example, there is a plausible future in which no child with means remains enrolled in public education. There is another in which personalized learning opportunities and supports are only available to learners whose families have the time and resources needed to customize their learning journeys.
When addressing how we might manage significant issues such as equity, quality, common learning outcomes, and helping learners know about and access options in a more diverse and more student-driven learning ecosystem than exists today, I usually raise two questions:
• Is the public education system meeting the needs of all learners today?
• How could the public education system position itself in relation to other nodes within a diverse learning ecosystem such that it provided safeguards against socioeconomic gaps and disparate outcomes?
In addition, I see the potential for state education agencies to take a leadership role in working with the full range of future learning providers to establish new ways of ensuring equity, establishing quality, agreeing core outcomes, and ensuring that every learner knows about and can access learning options. State education agencies can also play a key role in establishing shared infrastructure that enables learners to move seamlessly across learning experiences regardless of geographic boundaries (including state lines).
Some areas where state education agencies might enable the shift toward an expanded learning ecosystem include:
• Creating space for innovation within the current public education system
• Working with other stakeholders to waive seat-time requirements
• Encouraging multiple pathways toward personalized learning
• Encouraging learning solutions, such as regional schools, that meet specific learning needs apart from traditional boundaries
• Supporting the development of a shared inter-state technical infrastructure that enables the data about learners’ experiences to flow appropriately across learning experiences
• Enabling mechanisms for learners to gain credit for informal or community-based learning experiences
• Exploring with other stakeholders new funding mechanisms that can help learners cross traditional boundaries.
Whether state education agencies explore these or other paths toward a future that realizes the best possibilities for all learners, they have a key role to play in building not just their own organizational capacities but also the capacity for education transformation in their states.
During #PBLChat this week we talked about Workshops, how to move them beyond lecture. We had some great student input and great strategies shared by experienced PBLChatters. The archives are here on our Storify channel
With the recent launch of the Theory of Action, we have gotten clearer than ever on what building civic infrastructure actually looks like. The Theory of Action consists of a series of quality benchmarks organized vertically by the four pillars of the Strive Framework:  Shared Community Vision,  Evidence-based Decision Making,  Collaborative Action and  Investment and Sustainability; and horizontally by four Gateways:  Exploring,  Emerging,  Sustaining, and  Systems Change. The benchmarks serve as a detailed guide for the steps that a community should take in order to build and sustain a partnership that achieves improved cradle to career outcomes.
Community engagement, while called out very intentionally in specific benchmarks, is really a theme that is inherent in the work across the Theory of Action. The ways and strategies to engage the community will look differently depending on the progress of the partnership and the purpose of the engagement, but the intention to involve the community in present in every gateway in the Theory of Action. See below for where community engagement is specifically called out in the Exploring Gateway.
Community Engagement in the Exploring Gateway:
-Representation in accountability structure: Designing an accountability structure is a unique opportunity to build community voice into the structure of the partnership. Cradle to career partnerships have incorporated community voice in different ways, such as the intentional inclusion of a community leader at the leadership table. A leadership table is a group of cross-sector executive-level leaders that participate in setting the direction of the partnership. This allows for a representative of the community to be involved in decision-making and strategic direction-setting, a potential form of transformational engagement.
-Informing community about the partnership through ‘call to action’ and ‘messages’: Clarity and consistency are extremely important when trying to communicate and inform the community about this complex work. By developing messages that are understandable by a broad audience and identifying clear ways for the community to plug into the work, the partnership can keep the community adequately informed and engaged. Developing resonating messages and a process for communicating effectively is an example of transactional engagement.
-Engagement in vision: The community not only needs to be informed of the vision and work of the partnership, but they also need to own it and feel partially accountable for the progress the partnership makes in improving student outcomes. The only way to ensure that this work is supported by the community in this way is to authentically engage the community in the vision and work of the partnership. This has looked differently in communities across the network, but one important lesson to note is that an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of past engagement efforts is key to building an authentic relationship with the community going forward. Setting clear expectations about the role of the partnership (and its limitations) and making sure the engagement is purposeful and actionable are important pieces to building an authentic relationship. Depending on the strategy, engaging the community in the vision and work of the partnership could be a transactional or transitional form of engagement.
If you have example from your own community on how you have effectively engaged the community- we would love to hear of and learn from your experience!
Check back soon for the next blog in the series, about community engagement in the emerging gateway of the Strive Theory of Action! Also, plan to join us September 25-27th in Dallas for the 2013 Strive Cradle to Career Network Convening where we will be diving into the topic of community engagement in more detail!
As someone who has read every approved No Child Left Behind waiver application, last week was bitter sweet. Sweet because the Department of Education announced the long-awaited process for waiver renewal. Bitter because, well, that means there will be 35 more renewal applications to wade through. The renewal process will begin January 2014 for the 34 states and the District of Columbia, who received waivers for the 2012-2013 school year, to extend the waivers through 2016.
According to the Department’s press release, states must demonstrate that, through their renewal applications, they are:
- On track to meet current commitments and requirements under ESEA flexibility
- Have a plan for implementing ESEA flexibility through the 2015-2016 school year
- Meeting the high bar set to protect all students and support all teachers and principals under ESEA flexibility
- Identifying schools and subgroups in need and ensuring they receive interventions and supports
- Have resolved any outstanding monitoring findings or compliance issues in ESEA flexibility or related programs.
This Politics K-12 blog post by Michele McNeil takes a look at some of the additional strings the Department is attaching to the renewals given the guidance released last week. The highlights include states:
- Reaffirming their commitment to college- and career-ready standards and tests
- Implementing differentiated accountability systems that focus on closing achievement gaps
- Continuing to develop new teacher-evaluation systems by the 2014-15 school year,
- Using teacher-evaluation data to ensure that underserved students are not being taught by ineffective teachers at a higher rate than their peers
- Developing a “high-quality plan” for holding districts accountable for their efforts in turning around struggling schools
There is one line in the Department’s press release that is really interesting to me, “… (the Department’s renewal process) will also provide an opportunity for states to make necessary adjustments to their approved plans for improving student learning and the quality of instruction.” This is interesting to me because I wonder how far the Department will let states go with those adjustments. Will they allow waivers within a state’s waiver for programs like Kentucky’s Districts of Innovation? What about enabling states interested in moving towards competency education, like those in CCSSO’s Innovation Lab Network, to pilot parallel assessment and accountability systems for a subset of districts? It seems to me that if the Department is interested in allowing states to be truly innovative in the way we deliver education to our students, this waiver renewal process may be an important, and maybe their last, opportunity to do that.