It’s been over five years since I had the great fortune of joining ANet, and I thought I’d share a bit about our progress, motivated by all that feels at stake in educating our next generation.
Some headlines: 1) Our partner schools continue to demonstrate meaningful student achievement gains nationwide; 2) ANet has the highest-rated assessments in the country; and 3) we’re now weaving support for strong classroom instruction and essential system conditions together with our traditional coaching for school leaders, which is resulting in even more impact.
I’ll start with some numbers (we are ANet, after all). We’ve tripled in size over these past five years and currently reach nearly 250,000 students in schools in underserved communities. We feel pressure to deliver for them every day, anchored in our beliefs that every student deserves an excellent education and that educators who devote their professional lives to this goal deserve support.
Two years ago researchers completed a randomized control trial which showed that when schools have the right basic conditions in place and partner with ANet, students achieve six months of additional learning over a two-year period.
The most recent summative data from our school partners continues to point to meaningful progress. For the second year in a row we saw that schools that build strong leadership practices based on our research-based rubric get greater student learning gains than 70% of the schools in their state—in both ELA and math.
Here are some highlights from communities and partners across the country:
- Washington, DC: Schools with an ANet coach had two times more growth in math and ELA than schools without an ANet coach.
Massachusetts: Over the last four years, our partner Springfield Public Schools has moved six schools out of turnaround status and ten more into the highest performance category in the state.
Michigan: ANet partner schools outpaced their peer schools in economically- disadvantaged communities by more than three times in ELA and two times in math.
Illinois: ANet partner schools’ average growth was almost four times that of non-ANet schools on the city of Chicago’s annual school report card.
We measure our success by our partners’ outcomes. We know it is our job to 1) provide the highest quality instructional tools for improving teaching; 2) deliver excellent coaching and training to help schools improve school-wide instructional practices; and 3) support district efforts to foster the school conditions that catalyze better teaching and learning. Here’s how we’re doing:
Assessments: Over the past few years, we’ve completely rebuilt the content of our math and ELA assessments to reflect the demands of more rigorous college- and career-ready standards. And our efforts have been recognized: the Louisiana Department of Education recently classified our math and ELA interim assessments as “Tier 1”—the highest possible. LDOE has received national praise for its rigorous review process to judge an assessment’s quality and usefulness to teachers, and ANet is the only organization to have received such validation in math and ELA from an independent review. (Notably, some of the most widely used assessments rank in the bottom tier.) This really matters, because assessments reflect our expectations of what students can and should learn. And at ANet we have seen first hand the power of high expectations in changing the trajectory of students we serve. We take very seriously our responsibility to give teachers high quality assessments that are essential to helping their students realize their potential.
Coaching: Over the past few years, we’ve expanded the scope of our coaching to holistically support schools in delivering high quality instruction, rather than a more narrow focus on data analysis. We did this because more rigorous standards demanded deeper instructional support. As a result of this evolution, more partner schools achieved their practice improvement goals last year—from 64% to 72% of schools, and we’re aiming much higher in the years ahead. Here’s how one school leader in our network describes how our coaching has helped him improve his school.
Systems: Over the past few years, we’ve deepened the connection between the work we do with schools and the overall strategic priorities pursued by district leaders in our work with more than 60 charter and district systems nationwide. We’re starting to see this work pay off in better outcomes for students: Based on this past year’s data, we see that schools where we work with district leaders are outperforming schools in places where we do not work with district leadership.
Finally, I’m proud of the passion and excellence that our diverse team brings to the work every day, and that ANet has been recognized multiple times by the NonProfit Times as one of the “Best Nonprofits to Work For.”
While our team and our partners have made great strides, we’ve also grown more humble about how much there is yet to do and how deeply rooted our education system sits within the historic context and present-day realities of racial inequity. We know there are no silver bullets. If we are going to realize the day when all children have equitable access to an excellent education, we must do it together—teachers, school leaders, system leaders, and education nonprofits like ANet.
If you’ve gotten this far, then, one, thank you!, and two, I encourage you to watch this video of a text-based discussion of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star at one of our partner schools in Chicago, in which the teacher is getting students to focus on evidence in the text. It gives me hope and will surely make you smile.
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