Daria Hall is the Director of K-12 Policy Development at The Education Trust, a non-profit research and advocacy organization with a mission of ensuring that poor and minority children achieve at high levels.

The data are irrefutable. Nationally, nearly half of low-income fourth graders lack even basic reading skills, compared with 18 percent of their higher income peers. African-American and Latino 12th graders read and do math at the same level as white eighth graders. And while Connecticut often prides itself on high overall achievement, the gaps separating the state’s low-income students from their higher income peers are the widest in the country in fourth-grade reading and math, and eighth-grade math. These achievement gaps are pervasive, they’re persistent, and they’re profoundly damaging. But they are not inevitable.  Across the country, schools, districts, and even whole states are showing what’s possible when educators, policymakers, and advocates organize to educate all students to high levels, regardless of race, income, or family background.

These top performers are perhaps the most valuable resources available to those of us committed to raising achievement and closing gaps because not only do they offer inspiration, but they also offer information on what it takes to get the work done. But identifying and distilling lessons from success can be a daunting task for the principal whose school demands every moment of her time, or the school board member busy attending to the needs of his local community. That’s where The Education Trust comes in. We mine the data from schools, districts, and states across the country to identify those places that are raising achievement, closing gaps, and ensuring that all students graduate from high school ready for college and the workplace. We uncover the strategies, policies, and practices of these top performers. And this November, we’re bringing them together to share their stories at our national conference. Under the theme “Getting It Done: Raising Achievement, Closing Gaps for All,” this year’s conference will feature lessons from state and district leaders, educators, and advocates tackling some of the toughest issues of the day. The opportunities offered by our sessions include:

  • Learn how leaders in New York State and Baltimore City are approaching implementation of the Common Core State Standards to ensure that all teachers and students get the support they need to meet these new, higher expectations.
  • Hear about two promising initiatives — one in Chicago and one in Maryland’s Prince George’s County — to recruit, train, assign, and support principals and assistant principals who understand how to organize and manage high-poverty schools so that all students succeed.
  • Watch data-driven decision making in action as educators from a high-performing school in an impoverished Louisiana community demonstrate their Student Academic Review process for analyzing individual student data to identify weaknesses and develop targeted interventions.

These are just a few examples of what attendees will glean from the more than 30 sessions scheduled for the conference, all of which are especially designed to provide relevant, concrete, and actionable information. For more information about this opportunity to learn from leaders in the fight for achievement and equity, visit the Ed Trust website. I hope to see you in November!

The ideas expressed in this blog post reflect the views of the writer and are not necessarily those of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER). For information about CCER’s stance on these issues, see our Report outlining 65+ recommendations for how Connecticut can close its achievement gap while raising academic outcomes for all students.