Reopening: Moving Toward More Equitable Schools
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Building on Our Momentum

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    Scott Hartl, EL Education President & CEO

We begin 2016 inspired by the learning, rooted in rigor and joy, occurring every day in EL Education schools across the nation. As public opinion increasingly moves beyond a narrow focus on the attainment of easily tested basic skills to a broader view of the purpose of education, our collective multidimensional vision of student achievement is more important than ever. In my many years as a steward of EL Education’s message, I have never seen more opportunity for the work of our schools and our organization to be leading voices in promoting the kind of education that all students and teachers deserve.

In 2015, the media increasingly took notice of the amazing accomplishments of EL Education teachers and students, including stories on leading a campaign to make a school playground accessible to all students and saving honeybees, to educating their community about the earth’s history. National media coverage in 2015 included an excellent article in the Washington Post and a feature-length story by American Radioworks that aired on NPR stations nationally. Polaris Charter Academy in Chicago was featured in the “Think It Up” television broadcast seen by millions of viewers in September.


These stories and others signal recognition of the excellent quality of the learning underway in EL Education schools. In 2015, teachers and leaders in our network received the highest honors in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and South Carolina. The most recent awards bring the national total to eight Teacher- or Leader-of-the-Year awards in just the last two years. In another signal of growing interest, our acclaimed open-source literacy curriculum has now passed the six million mark in downloads.

There are over 150 schools, serving over 50,000 students, that are implementing the EL Education model. An additional 500 districts across 39 states, including half the 700 districts in New York state and those participating in our innovative Teacher Potential Project, are using the EL Education literacy curriculum.

In 2015, we were able to make the exciting and meaningful work undertaken in EL Education schools accessible to more audiences, through our books, online resources, and institutes:

  • More than 100,000 teachers serving an estimated one million students have been reached through EL Education books.
  • Our newest book, Management in the Active Classroom, answers the question: what does classroom management look like in the context of EL Education, where collaboration, peer assessment, and engagement in projects is the norm?
  • Another oft-asked question, “What does EL Education look like?” is answered in large part through the ever-expanding library of EL Education videos that have been viewed well over one million times.
  • Models of Excellence, the world’s largest and growing online compendium of high-quality student work, is catalyzing the use of models to help build student skills and dispositions for success in college, careers, and life.
  • Additional free, online resources include our Professional Learning Packs for self or group study, composed of organized, structured collections of video and print materials on key topics such as Coaching for Change, Helping All Learners, Collaborative Culture, and Meet the Modules--an introduction to our literacy curriculum.

Last but not least, we officially launched our new name at our 2015 National Conference in San Diego. The name “EL Education” celebrates our heritage as “Expeditionary Learning,” an organization created by a union between the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Outward Bound USA over 23 years ago.

Together, we are uniquely positioned to help move our country’s public education system to provide equity and excellence for all students. At a time when our country is facing challenges both deeply rooted in our history as a nation as well as never-before-seen on our planet, I am grateful to be working with so many wise, committed, talented teachers, students, and school leaders. I couldn’t be more excited about our collective achievements or more optimistic about our future.