To be successful in college and careers, it goes without saying that students must acquire a certain foundation of academic knowledge and skills. But academics are not all that students need. Students also must be equipped with certain emotional skills and a positive, goal-oriented mindset to realize their dreams in college and the work world. Consider the high-achieving student who performs well academically in high school, but then drops out of college. Surely there are a number of possible contributing factors, but the student’s social-emotional preparedness and ability to anticipate and persevere in the face of challenges may be among them. The great news is that any student—no matter their family income, race, or ethnicity—can be hopeful and emotionally engaged in their learning.
Last year, the ESC of Central Ohio, Columbus State Community College, and Battelle for Kids joined together with innovative K–12 school districts in central Ohio to form DataStrong, which is working to develop systems to improve the use of data in preparing the region’s students for college and career success. With support from a Straight A Fund grant, our goal is to have 60 percent of Central Ohio adults earn a post-secondary degree or industry certification by 2025. DataStrong is focused on closing gaps by matching strengths to needs efficiently to increase educator effectiveness with students, and identifying stretch opportunities for students to maximize learning in high school and be better prepared for success in college, a career, and life.
For more than 15 years, education leaders have made data-based decision-making a top priority at all levels of school organizations. There is now no shortage of data, but sometimes there is a shortage of ‘high-impact’ actions resulting from those data. What actions are likely to work? What should we continue to do, and what should we stop doing? What investment is worthwhile? These are all important questions that reveal the need for educators to identify and implement high impact strategies in the classroom—strategies known to close achievement gaps when practiced with fidelity. So, what are these strategies and how should we use them?
On February 5, hundreds of educators, students, legislators, and business leaders took part in the inaugural Straight A Innovation Conference at the Ohio Statehouse, featuring innovative projects from more than 50 school districts across the state. The districts are among a group of nearly 300 Ohio school districts that have been awarded $250 million in grants through the Straight A Fund to help launch creative new ideas for improving education. Battelle for Kids is supporting several Straight A grant winners who are using the power of collaboration and innovation to transform college and career opportunities for students. Read their stories.
There is rightly a major focus nowadays on recruiting and hiring the best educator talent in our schools. However, an equally important, and often overlooked issue, is how districts can effectively retain their best teachers and school leaders. Educator turnover costs school districts in the U.S. about $2.2 billion annually, according to a recent study. It also impacts learning opportunities for students, particularly those in urban and rural settings which face the biggest challenges in growing and keeping effective educators. To ensure equitable access to excellent educators for all our students—regardless of their zip code—we need a balanced approach to talent management in education focused on recruiting, developing, and retaining the best and brightest educators.