We are Crew: Moving Together in 2017
The beginning of the year marks a time for reflection and anticipation of what lies ahead. The past year has been one of growing recognition and deepening impact for EL Education, building on nearly 25 years of working with some of the best teachers, school leaders, and education visionaries in this country. We are increasingly seen as the kind of education that's needed to prepare young people for their futures, and for ours as a nation. And while we are humble about the challenges before us, we are more confident than ever in these core beliefs:
1. A commitment to social justice is part and parcel of ensuring that every child receives the equitable, empowering, challenging education that he or she deserves.
- If we have one central motto, it is: “We are all crew, not passengers, strengthened by acts of consequential services to others.” Our core design principles ground us in a historical and re-amplified commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice.
- For a few examples of what this means in action, I invite you to view the stories of students from Harborside Academy speaking at our recent National Conference and the students of Polaris Charter Academy describing work in their community.
2. Student achievement reaches far beyond test scores, to encompass academic mastery, positive character, and high quality student work.
- In 2016, five EL Education network schools met our high standards in all three dimensions, joining 23 of their peers in receiving the EL Education national credential.
- In his 2016 book Helping Children Succeed, bestselling author Paul Tough cited EL Education as one of two most promising educational models in the country.
- 15 EL Education network schools won awards for their accomplishments in 2016, including William Smith High School, named a national School of Opportunity, Polaris Charter Academy, selected from thousands of applicants with a Think It Up award, and six EL Education schools that received national Green Ribbon School recognition.
- EL Education published its fourth book, Learning that Lasts: Challenging, Engaging, and Empowering Students with Deeper Instruction in just the past three years (see them all here) to high acclaim.
3. Teachers create excellent classrooms, enabling all students to reach the highest standards of college and career readiness, when they have access to meaningful professional development, resources, and tools.
- In 2016, seven EL Education teachers have won awards as “Teacher of the Year” from their state or a major education group. (Award-winner Chris Dolgos’ speech at the 2016 National Conference is one of these many inspiring stories).
- Great teachers thrive with great leaders. Five EL Education school leaders were recognized as the best in their states in 2016. (Watch Principal Derek Pierce’s acceptance of an award at our National Conference, and be prepared to laugh out loud.)
- Our highly implementing schools continue to consistently outperform their districts and states on assessments, have 100% of their students accepted to college, and perform countless acts of purposeful engagement in their communities.
4. High quality curriculum is just one piece of the puzzle—but an important one.
- The fact that the EL Education literacy curriculum has already been downloaded eight million times by educators across the country is one measure of this need, as is the fact that it is being used on 46 states.
- EdReports.org, an independent organization that provides rigorous, objective reviews of educational materials, gave our literacy curriculum a near-perfect score, one of only two curricula meeting the highest standards for grades 6-8.
- The Southwest Baltimore Charter School saw significant growth in its students’ success after just one year of implementing EL Education’s ELA curriculum, when the percentage of students hitting their growth targets in ELA climbed over 17 points on the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP), rising from 32 to 49.3 percent.
The Road Ahead
Later this year, we will kick off the celebration of our 25th anniversary. We are rooted in our history and our principles, while also building a virtuous cycle of new services and resources to continue to fulfill our mission of creating “classrooms where teachers can fulfill their highest aspirations and students achieve more than they think possible, becoming active contributors to building a better world.” In the coming year, we will continue to deepen and learn from our essential work with schools across the national, 152-school EL Education network, as well as launching new curricula, books, professional development institutes and intensive literacy partnerships.
EL Education works in many different contexts, from rural West Virginia to our largest cities. We serve students from all backgrounds, including refugee and immigrant children, and we are working everywhere to build student character toward respect and compassion, providing a college and career-bound opportunity for all Americans. As we honor the birth of Martin Luther King next Monday, we are clear that the culture of careful listening and community contribution that is cultivated at EL Education schools has never been more important.
In the coming year, EL Education will be participating in two initiatives focused on equity that will surround us with equally committed colleagues, deepen our work in historically underserved communities, and engage in efforts to discern the most effective pathways to building students’ academic, ethical, and civic character.
This work occurs in a context of commitment to learning all we can and to sharing the results with you. We look forward to our work this year and celebrating our quarter century of growing impact. Please reach out to me to share your thoughts for the new year, celebrations of learning, and stories from your community--I look forward to hearing from you.
We wish you a happy, healthy, and productive 2017!
President & CEO