Building a shared vision and roadmap to close the achievement gap

Building a shared vision and roadmap to close the achievement gap

A Note From Michael Goar, executive director, Generation Next

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I am pleased to introduce the inaugural issue of our e-newsletter, Partners in Progress, one of the many ways Generation Next will help keep families, students, partners and other stakeholders informed of our work as we make inroads to addressing and closing the achievement gap.

As many of you already know, Generation Next is a multi-sector partnership working to dramatically accelerate the educational achievement of all children by identifying, increasing, and aligning educational best practices to ensure students are prepared for success in college, work and life.

Generation Next’s model is driven by a “collective impact” approach, exemplified in education by the Strive cradle-to-career framework. This framework is rooted in the abandonment of individual agendas in favor of a collective approach to improving student achievement by using local data to coordinate and align resources around effective practices at every stage of a young person’s life. By using this framework and approach, during its first five years of implementation in the Cincinnati area, Strive saw improvements in 40 of its 53 educational outcomes, most notably: 9% rise in kindergarten readiness; 11% increase in high school graduation; and 10% increase in college enrollment.

We believe that the Twin Cities has all the practices and resources we need to see all of our students succeed. Based on a preliminary landscape analysis, we know that there are many collaborative efforts happening, over 500 distinct programs and over $96 million in private philanthropy dedicated to gap closing education-related efforts for Minneapolis and Saint Paul public school children. Yet, despite this richness of resources and activity, the Twin Cities is ground zero for Minnesota’s achievement gap which is the highest in the nation. But we’re confident that together we can close it.

As a first step, we know that creating a shared vision and understanding among stakeholders of how to address the achievement gap is imperative. Beyond our five community wide goals, Generation Next has launched a series of family and student listening sessions to ensure the voices and needs of those most affected by the achievement gap – people of color who unequivocally understand that education is the key to escaping poverty for one filled with opportunity, security and prosperity—are always informing our work.  You can read more about one of those events in our “Community Insights” section, which this month features a conversation with the Riverside community co-hosted by Pillsbury United.

As I’ve listened to parents in the Riverside community and elsewhere, I have been struck by their tenacity in trying to navigate complex educational systems to ensure their children are getting the best education possible, all while struggling to make ends meet. And the next generation of leaders – today’s students – have impressed upon us the urgency to which we need to fix systems that are failing far too many of our students.

The information we gather through these listening sessions will provide direction to the people and organizations who will drive the Generation Next engine: “Action Networks” dedicated to analyzing local data and developing action plans to identify, replicate and scale best practices. Our first two networks are focused on early literacy and college and career readiness and they are one of many ways in which you can engage with Generation Next.

As an organization or individual dedicated to educational excellence for all students, I hope that you will respond to and share with others our invitation to partner.  As you review this invitation, you will see there are many ways you can be involved with Generation Next – there is a place at the table for all.

Yours in partnership and service,

Michael Goar
Executive Director
Generation Next

SIF 2015