Community, Business and School District Leaders Join Forces to Improve Outcomes for Students
By Ken Zeff, executive director, Learn4Life
Collaboration around a shared purpose can result in remarkable achievement. This is the sentiment behind Learn4Life, a regional approach that aligns educational efforts and resources to ensure success for every child across five counties and eight school districts in the region.
Last week, Learn4Life had its official launch to civic, business and education leaders with the release of: “State of Education in Metro Atlanta Baseline Report.” The report serves as a call to action to each stakeholder in the region to come together to support effective strategies and lift up bright spots that address the root causes of academic underperformance. With a clear understanding of the root causes, the collective effort to build on proven successes now begins.
Research has identified six community-level indicators to measure achievement in the region’s schools. These points along the education continuum are the keys to achieving a cradle-to-career vision of success for every child:
- kindergarten readiness,
- third grade reading proficiency,
- eighth grade math proficiency,
- high school graduation,
- post-secondary enrollment, and
- post-secondary attainment.
Baseline data indicates some sobering statistics:
- Only 40 percent of third graders in metro Atlanta are reading at grade level each year. The other 60 percent, roughly 28,000 third graders, are not.
- Of our low income students, only about 25 percent are reading at grade level in third grade.
- Research is clear that children who have not developed reading skills by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
- 31 percent of the eight school districts’ high school graduates go on to complete some type of post-secondary education, nowhere near the number needed to address the region’s needs. By the year 2025, more than 60 percent of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education such as a certification or degree.
Learn4Life takes a data-based approach to effective education outcomes. With the baseline measures now evident, networks of education leaders are focused on the root causes of our education challenges, starting with early grade literacy. These networks will identify “bright spots” of uncommonly strong results and look to scale them throughout metro Atlanta.
Four leading civic institutions were the genesis of Learn4Life: Atlanta Regional Commission, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Metro Atlanta Chamber and United Way of Greater Atlanta. Eight participating school superintendents across the five county region, representing over 600,000 students, are driving this program. More information is available at l4lmetroatlanta.org and @L4LMetroAtlanta.