America Achieves launched and led the Educator Networks, including a Global Learning Network and state and national Educator Fellowships, to leverage and share the expertise and ideas of outstanding educators beyond their schools. The networks empower educators to shape education decisions—from policy to instructional practice—and build the knowledge base of what works. The first America Achieves program of any kind was a fellowship for classroom teachers and school leaders, enabling them to leverage their voices and share their experience and expertise to create meaningful impact beyond their classrooms, schools, and communities. Leveraging Educator Expertise: How You Can Use Your Voice for Change recognizes the impact of many of our educators, shares effective strategies, and highlights many of our lessons learned.
In recent years, our programs blended a longstanding focus on improving equity, academic rigor, and success with a focus on education-to-employment—working with educators to develop new tools, processes, and instructional resources (from career exploration curricula to industry-aligned career pathways and performance tasks) to help prepare students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for career and life success. Setting a Vision for Career Readiness in Your School served as the foundational white paper on career readiness. It was followed by additional work, including the development and implementation of the Quest for Success career exploration curriculum. That curriculum is now in use with approximately 30,000 students in Louisiana alone. This also included the design and piloting of sample, industry-aligned, Problem-Based Learning performance tasks in Colorado to help students develop and demonstrate mastery of key, career-ready competencies, including a partnership with Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and Dallas-area districts and business, higher education, and community partners to launch new, high-quality, high school mechatronics career pathways in schools across the metro-region.
This initiative also worked with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to pilot and scale an assessment and network, enabling schools to benchmark performance and learn from the world’s best schools. Educator Networks is spinning off from America Achieves this month to become a program at Cambiar Education.
America Achieves started working with former Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy to incubate GripTape four years ago. Mark’s idea was to develop a replicable, research-based method to develop youth agency—and put young people in charge of their learning. Grip Tape has raised about $5 million, is supporting young people in 30 states, and is publishing a series of reports and findings to help others nationwide adapt GripTape’s evidence-based methods. Grip Tape has just moved out of America Achieves to become its own independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
This work includes writing and publishing articles synthesizing lessons learned in this work and offering guidance and recommendations for the field.