Over the last few months, staff of the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) visited adult charter schools and schools for disconnected or opportunity youth in the D.C. area. We were inspired by the dedicated students, faculty, and staff and saw the need for more high-quality and adequately resourced adult and family charter schools, pilot schools, or other blended learning or hybrid schools for adults and opportunity youth in the United States. There are currently 36 million adults and 5.3 million disconnected or opportunity youth in the country who could benefit from access to such schools.
On our visits we met students like Senovio, who dreams of owning his own restaurant one day. Senovio’s dedication to his dream was apparent as he shared how he works up to 70 hours a week as a sous chef at a local Mexican restaurant and sometimes wakes up at 4 a.m. to do his homework before heading to class. Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School is helping Senovio prepare for his future with a restaurant-grade kitchen where his culinary training classes are held. Next to the kitchen classroom is a dining room where the students practice serving and interacting with customers. Carlos Rosario International PCS and the other adult schools we visited in D.C. are giving students like Senovio the opportunity to learn in-demand occupational skills and employability skills necessary for employment, while they learn literacy and numeracy.
Today’s older youth and adult learners face a number of obstacles that keep them from completing their education, for this reason it is critical that the schools that serve them provide the needed supports to minimize these external barriers. For example, the schools we visited offer day, evening, and night classes to make sure their classes meet the varying schedules of students, free child care while students attend class, and transportation subsidies. They also offer college and career counseling and give students social services support. Communities across the country can benefit from models like these that give older youth, low-skilled adults, and families access to high-quality, adequately resourced schools.
Today, December 1, 2016, OCTAE, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, and the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School hosted the first Adult Schools Growth Forum focused on expanding high-quality schools for low-skilled adult learners, opportunity youth, and other disadvantaged older youth and adults.
The forum is the first step in what we hope will be a continued conversation on how to expand educational options for older youth, adults, and families. The event brought together individuals and organizations with a vested interest in expanding access to high-quality schools for adults including adult charter school and adult school operators, community leaders interested in creating high-quality and adequately resourced adult schools, charter school authorizers, city and state education policy decision makers, national associations, researchers and evaluators, potential investors, federal agencies, and intermediaries involved in promoting and expanding access to these types of schools.
Please join me in committing to create #MoreAdultSchools and increase the number of high-quality and adequately resourced adult and family charter schools, pilot schools, or other schools for adults by 100 or more schools across the country over the next three years. To see what concrete steps you can take to help increase the number of high quality adult schools, look at the menu of actions paper.
For more information on adult schools, a follow-up paper articulating key recommendations from today’s event, and much more, head to http://conference.novaresearch.com/ASGF2016.
“Our kids need an education that is reflective of them, that challenges them, and helps them to better understand who they are in the world.”
Last April, I was able to take advantage of an opportunity to explore this powerful idea. My team and I were able to travel to New Orleans to attend a Teach to Lead Summit. Our hope was to bring the perspectives and ideas we have on education from our various sites (Denver, Rochester, Boston, Baltimore) and turn them into well…something. Not only did the summit allow us two days to work on and develop how to address our idea for culturally responsive instruction and emancipatory pedagogy, it also gave us time to come together and create something not only professionally but personally.
My team consisted of five like-minded individuals, and we were able to share a priceless experience. We grew up with a similar experience of schooling and life, and all of our passions for education brought us together. The fact that we had this similar connection of being Black male educators in this world, instantly created a brotherhood that we will not soon forget. As young men, we were all surrounded by elders who wanted to “give us the lives and opportunities that they never had”.
Now, we all teach in Title I schools and serving urban schools with student populations that are predominantly students of color and where at least 75% of students are on free and reduced lunch. We consider ourselves gifted with the opportunity to teach “those kids” because when we were in school, we were “those kids”.
The summit started with our critical friend, a third party advisor to our group who provided us with insight and challenged the way we were thinking about our idea. She made us truly understand the “why” to our idea, and once we had our rationale down, we were off to the races. Our rationale follows:
“Culturally responsive instruction (CRI) and an emancipatory pedagogy (EP) eliminates damaging colorblind approaches to teaching and learning and brings student identity to the foreground. Not only does CRI and EP meet all students where they are but it communicates high expectations and generates positive perspectives of parents, families and communities, thus increasing equity for all students.”
We left the Teach to Lead summit charged up because we would have the chance to pay it forward and help craft an educational life for our students. We were ready to see how we would be able to turn this incredible experience into action. Nick and I returned to Denver where he is the principal and I am a teacher/teacher leader. With our work in hand, we began to plan for implementation in our school for the upcoming school year.
We were able to create and implement measurable, prioritized, and ritualized trainings in CRI and EP practices. We had students start the year with two weeks of relationship-building instruction that allowed teachers and students to get to know each other. We created professional development for our staff — a Teachers College that allows teachers to understand our students not only through CRI, but also through student data and outcomes, equipping staff with a human and academic face to our students. We also created a Manual H.S. Institute model after the Aspen Institute. It is a space dedicated to enrichment for our students, giving them the chance to learn more about themselves, the world, and their ability to change it.
It all started with a leap of faith by five educators who wanted to make a change, and a Teach to Lead summit that pushed us to turn our ideas into a reality.
William Anderson works at Manual High School in Denver as the school AVID site-team coordinator, teacher leader overseeing equity, and social studies and AVID teacher. A Colorado native, he attended Metropolitan State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in history along a secondary teaching licensure. He also earned a master’s in Education, specifically curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix, and is currently a University of Colorado at Denver student studying to earn his principal licensure and an Ed.D in policy and administration. He is a dream chaser, reader, runner, and lover of history, music, and junk food.
The post Learning to Lead at a Teach to Lead Summit … Priceless appeared first on ED.gov Blog.
This week we welcome Niki Bray, WCET Adaptive Learning Fellow, to discuss the impact of adaptive learning at CTU. I loved reading this post from Niki, especially the focus on one of our 2016 WOW Award Winners! For more on CTU’s adaptive learning programs watch Niki’s interview with Connie Johnson and Judy Komar from Colorado Technical University, which we’ve included at the end of the blog. Thank you Niki for this great post highlighting the outstanding work happening at CTU.
In May, I had the opportunity to travel to Schaumburg, Illinois to visit Colorado Technical University’s Chief Academic Officer and Provost, Dr. Connie Johnson, with the aim of learning what makes CTU’s adaptive learning program so successful. To date, over 32,000 students have completed at least one of CTU’s 100+ adapted courses. Connie says what motivates CTU’s administration and faculty are student outcomes. Seeing the impact adaptive learning is having on the student’s experience and their success has permeated the entire culture at CTU. During my visit, I spoke mainly with administrators and staff who’s behind-the-scenes role has been vital to the success of adaptive learning at CTU. Every person I spoke with was excited about adaptive learning and its impact on the lives of CTU students.Adaptive Learning and Culture
While we never discussed culture specifically, how adaptive learning has shaped CTU’s academic culture was vividly clear. Connie gave me a tour of CTU’s campus support center, and I had the privilege of meeting numerous individuals who work tirelessly to support CTU’s adaptive learning efforts. Everyone I spoke with was enthusiastic about adaptive learning and agreed it was a transformative force at CTU.
“Adaptive learning really lets students be in control and is personalized to the student experience on how they’re going to best learn and achieve what they want to out of the course.”
–Dr. Doug Stein, Vice-Provost, CTU
“Adaptive learning has provided our students with a really great venue to learn across the scope of several different courses in a way that not only challenges them but is also adaptive to where they are in their learning.”
-Dr. Stacia Klasen, Director of Academic Operations, CTU
“Adaptive learning has been a great engagement learning tool for students. They are getting that immediate feedback so they are encouraged as they’re going through and learning the material. It helps motivate them to keep continue within the adaptive learning system, which has been really great. From a faculty perspective, watching my students want to keep striving to improve.”
– Director of Learning Solutions, CTU
“Adaptive learning is a progressive, up-to-date fascinating tool that not only puts learning in greater perspective for our students. We have a lot of students who are coming back and haven’t been in classes for a very, very long time. It gives them the opportunity to get in touch with not only their learning style but to reorient themselves with learning. Adaptive learning has helped a lot of our students to get back into the frame of learning. Most of the classes I have taught have used adaptive learning and all of our students have found it really fascinating. It has its slight drawbacks because students don’t expect as much intensity, in terms of the learning, and some of them coming back, it takes them a minute to get into that mindset. Other than that, fantastic!”
– Dr. Bright Justice, Lead Doctoral Faculty, CTU
“From the student advising perspective, adaptive learning tends to pull students further along than they intend. With adaptive, it kind-of pulls you through the process so that the more you figure out that you already know or the more that you learn the more that you want to do. So, it kind-of keeps you connected to it and makes it more interesting than just going into a book and finding interesting facts and regurgitating it. That’s what’s been really helpful, at least for our students especially as we try to get them to engage earlier. If we get them started on a Monday, they tend to do so much more as opposed to waiting until the weekend. A lot of our students are coming back to something like this and it’s online and it can be difficult for students to adapt to that.”
– Jack Lewandowski VP Student Affairs, CTU
“Adaptive learning enhances the student’s learning experience. One advantage is that students get to see their progress immediately. It helps students drive a lot of their education pursuits. And it has proven to be an effective learning tool for students.”
– University Dean, College of Business and Management
CTU administrators and faculty have published numerous articles describing the impact of adaptive learning on their faculty and how faculty support for adaptive learning has driven student success (Educause Review). Additionally, CTU has won numerous awards for their work around adaptive learning, including a WCET WOW award in 2014. The reason CTU has had success with adaptive learning is due to support from administration and staff. While innovation in teaching is often championed from the bottom up, top down support for innovation is essential to bringing it to scale. The value of adaptive learning brings to students is well-documented, but at CTU, adaptive learning is shaping their institutional culture as well.
As we reflect on the important work that we have been able to do throughout the Administration, we wanted to highlight some of our key messages. This is part of a reflection series presented by the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Ensuring educational access for all youth requires partnerships beyond the classroom. Educators have partnered with youth, families, faith-based and community organizations to create a culture of educational excellence and academic achievement. It is this intentionality of partnership that has created vibrant and cohesive school communities across the country. These communities provide a space and place necessary for academic achievement. The Department of Education Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships (ED Center) plays a key role in promoting student achievement by connecting schools and community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based.
Through Together for Tomorrow, promising practices for educational achievement are shared among schools, families, national service programs, and community-based organizations. These practices continue to propel improvement of our lowest-performing schools. This partnership is possible with the cooperation of the Corporation for National and Community Service and community partners such as, the Boys and Girls Club, United Way, and National Center for Families Learning.
In addition, the ED Center formed an Memorandum of Understanding with the National League of Cities Institute, to increase visibility, understanding and appreciation of the role that mayors can play in leading educational change in their communities by advancing strong early childhood opportunities, citywide high-quality afterschool programs, and strategies to improve postsecondary success rates.
Resources and tools provided through the Department of Education have helped faith-based and community organizations, educators and families address challenges like “bridging the word gap”; improving parent and family engagement and other items in the Education Matters bulletin.
As educators and communities begin implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act we know that continued partnerships, between schools and community-based organizations, both secular and faith-based, will be crucial to fulfilling our shared vision of, in the words of President Obama, the “fundamentally American ideal—that every child, regardless of race, income, background, the zip code where they live, deserves the chance to make of their lives what they will through education.”
Reverend Brenda Girton-Mitchell, J.D. is the Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education.