“Miss, back in middle school you had some books about queer people in your classroom… I just want you to know those books helped me know I was going to make it.”

Photo by Leslie Cross on Unsplash

Juneteenth is a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States on June 19th, 1865, just 156 years ago. The day is marked by jubilation in and beyond Black communities in America as we celebrate Black culture, Black history, and Black liberation.

On Juneteenth 2021 in particular, we are reminded of the stark juxtaposition of the challenges faced by those who have fought and continue to fight against injustice, positioned alongside their triumphant celebrations of liberation. …

Nearly two decades ago, the Massachusetts English Language Education in Public Schools Initiative (Question 2) was passed, stating that Massachusetts’ English Learners (ELs) “must be taught English by being taught all subjects in English and being placed in English language classrooms,” (Ballotpedia, 2002). The bill effectively “eliminated most bilingual programs in the state with [no real] model to replace it],” says Sean Brooks, a longtime teacher, and leader in Massachusetts’ EL education landscape. …

America’s schools and districts have an unprecedented opportunity to invest in our students and their futures. For the past fifteen years, ANet has worked alongside school, district, and state-level leadership teams to strengthen core instruction and achieve breakthrough results for students. We have seen what works. We deeply believe that coherence within any education ecosystem is key. Today’s K-12 federal funding creates a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for districts and schools to create more equitable learning experiences for all students. …

The alarm bells have been ringing for some time that America’s students cannot read. Yet, most educators cannot pinpoint why this is our reality. While the literacy crisis has certainly been compounded by the ongoing pandemic, it was already evident in 2019 NAEP data that 66% of 8th graders and 65% of 4th graders were not proficient readers (NAEP, 2019).

There is no shortage of misinformation about why students are struggling to read, but the most problematic misconception that plagues the hallways and classrooms of high, middle, and upper elementary schools is that students and their families are to blame…

Last year, 13-year-old Lili of Sacred Heart STEM School in Boston, MA was a 7th-grade environmental engineer, “learn[ing] how what we build affects the ecosystem and how we can save our planet.” She and her classmates Ansen, 13, and Natalie, 14, were working in teams as engineers, project managers, architects, etc, building model bridges that eventually would have been strong enough to support the weight of one of their younger classmates.

by Christina Lippert, Senior Director of School Support & Foundational Literacy

The problem

On Read Across America Day 2021, we acknowledge that America is faced with a reading crisis. In a pre-pandemic world, only 35 percent of 4th graders were considered proficient readers according to The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2019*.

Further, white male students were 3x more likely to read proficiently than their Black male peers, and Black boys from low-income families were only 10% likely to be proficient.

by Clarice Clash, Ph.D
Managing Director of System Services
Achievement Network (ANet)

“Our school is changing and it is impossible to teach at grade level anymore.”

Clarice Clash

I was aghast when a member of my instructional team spoke these words.

Even more alarming? These words were spoken long before the pandemic.

As a school principal in Tucson, I was discussing an initiative to align our curriculum with grade-level standards. I asked my team, What does it mean that our school is changing?

“Our students are coming from the new apartment buildings and from low SES districts,” the team member explained. “They aren’t arriving with the necessary prerequisites to teach grade-level ELA standards.”

This was not…

“The harsh reality was that most of the students in my class were several years below grade level, and I only had one school year to try to catch them up.”

by Chrissy Allison
Director of Math Professional Learning,
Achievement Network (ANet)

Achievement Network (ANet)

ANet is a nonprofit dedicated to the premise that every child in America deserves an excellent education and the opportunities it provides.

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