September 24, 2013
Through the Race to the Top – District (RTT-D) competition, the federal government is again promoting and prioritizing efforts to accelerate student achievement through the development of personalized models of teaching and learning. To win, districts must present a clear vision and high-quality plan for establishing fortified learning environments equipped with strategies, practices, and supports to address the social, emotional, and academic needs of all children.
Having worked in over 80 high-poverty schools since 2002, Turnaround for Children understands that many districts lack the capacity to build the core competencies that create “readiness” in the classroom and in students, teachers, and school leaders. Fortunately, we know that these challenges are not insurmountable. That is why we have created a blueprint for school districts that wish to strengthen their RTT-D applications, due October 3.
Poverty exerts a form of stress on children that impacts how they develop and behave and disrupts their ability to learn. This stress shows up in the classroom in recurring and predictable ways, from anger to distraction to dysfunction. It forms a pattern of risk for students, teachers and schools. This is precisely what makes it possible to design a strategy to address them.
It has been a serious mistake to assume schools would naturally adapt to meet the challenges that children living in poverty bring to school or to believe that services alone would solve the problem.
Turnaround for Children provides guidance on establishing the three conditions necessary to ensure educators are prepared to implement innovative, personalized learning models that promote college and career ready outcomes for all students, particularly those living in poverty. These recommendations are based on the latest scientific research exploring how children learn and how poverty interferes with this process.
The conditions for personalized learning that districts must establish are:
Student Support: Develop a high-capacity student support system that includes individualized services for students with the most intense behavioral and emotional needs.
Teacher Practice: Build effective classrooms through strategies that defuse disruption and promote engagement, cooperation, communication and goal-orientation in all students.
Leadership and Management: Establish the organization efficacy to implement personalized learning environments, led by a leadership team that leverages data to monitor and review progress towards improvement.
Schools that establish the conditions outlined above offer a fortified environment for teaching and learning that fosters healthy growth and strong academic performance in all children.