FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Edith Wooten
Wednesday, November 12, 2008 firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-822-7834
NEA Foundation Awards $1.34M to Close the Achievement Gaps
Pilots Show Improvements in Teaching and Learning that Support Continued Investment
Washington, DC — The NEA Foundation today announced that it will award $1,341,000 to three of its Closing the Achievement Gaps Initiative pilot sites, continuing its work to advance systemic efforts to increase academic achievement, especially for low income and minority students. The initiative sets five-year goals for each of the pilot sites and is building a body of knowledge about teaching and learning that will be shared with the reform and philanthropic sectors in the years ahead.
In three districts with a high number of under-achieving poor and minority students (Hamilton County, TN; Milwaukee, WI; and Seattle, WA), the NEA Foundation is funding five-year, multi-million dollar, research-based, collaborative efforts to bring together school districts, teachers’ associations, parents, community leaders, and others, putting public school educators at the center of reform. Begun in 2004 in Hamilton County, with Milwaukee and Seattle added in 2005 and 2006 respectively, early results are showing significant and positive changes in teaching and learning.
“With a year left to go at our first site in Chattanooga, we are seeing gains across the board. Teachers now receive data-driven, professional development to address real instructional challenges. Parents and the community are more engaged. And test scores, especially for low income and minority students, are rising,” said Harriet Sanford, President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “The achievement gap has dropped 13 percent in reading and 10.5 percent in math from 2004 to 2008. Equally important, our initial support has helped catalyze the community. The local Lyndhurst and Public Education Foundations have partnered with us to extend this work to all 21 middle schools in Hamilton County, so that this important work will take on a life of its own.”
The announcement was made today at a Seattle, WA convening that included the three original pilot sites and other educational leaders involved in the initiative who are collaborating on ways to strengthen public education.
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Sanford added that schools in Milwaukee and Seattle were also reporting early successes.
· In Milwaukee, the NEA Foundation-supported public schools are reporting increases in student achievement rates in reading and math scores that are, for the first time, surpassing the district average. High school graduation rates, now at 70 percent, have grown four times faster than the rest of the district. Professional development is highly rated, and collaboration in research and technology integration between the schools, the university and the community has strengthened.
· In Seattle, which just finished its second year, funded schools have student achievement rates that have surpassed the state’s average in reading and math scores. Educators report a positive professional climate, strong professional learning communities, and dramatically increased communication with parents. Approximately 77 percent of students’ parents received a home visit by school educators in the past year.
“These results reaffirm that our research-based theory of change is making a difference for educators and students,” said William Miles, Director of Programs for the NEA Foundation. “Core to our work is the belief that significant and sustainable improvement in achievement rates for poor and minority students can be accomplished through three interrelated strategies: collaboration and capacity building between the local association and the school district; teacher-driven curricular and instructional improvement; and community and parent input that is aligned with school improvement efforts.”
Miles added that the Foundation plans to expand the scope and impact of this groundbreaking work as a major programmatic focus over the next five years. “We will invite up to eight new sites to participate in a six month planning phase. From these, we will select a subset to participate in a full five-year implementation phase.”
About The NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization created in 1969 by the members of the National Education Association and sustained by contributions from educators, corporate sponsors, and other supporters of public education. The Foundation offers grants and programs that support educators' efforts to close the achievement gaps, increase classroom innovations, salute excellence in education, and provide professional development. For more information, visit www.neafoundation.org.
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