From new studies and research to a changing sociopolitical climate, education in America is constantly evolving. But how can teachers be sure that it’s changing in the right direction?
Advocacy groups and nonprofits across the country are working to instill policies, procedures and research that are focused on learning. Comprised of educators, experts and researchers from all walks of life, these advocacy groups reflect the best interests of teachers and their students.
Alliance for Excellent Education
Did you know that one in five high school students drops out of school in America? The Alliance for Excellent Education is on a mission to change that statistic. It supports the needs of the country’s most at-risk and underrepresented children by improving school policies affecting students of this demographic. They focus heavily on research-based practice, working to develop policy proven to increase student performance.
Stand for Children
This education advocacy group is aimed at helping all children gain fair and equal access to quality education. Stand for Children achieves its mission through a variety of initiatives, including advocating for education policy at the local, state and national levels. They make sure these policies directly impact teachers and students, ensuring special funding ends up where it’s intended to go. Another important initiative of this group is empowering parents and teachers to stand up for student rights and demand excellence of all public schools, no matter where they’re located.
Achieve is a nonpartisan organization that focuses on strengthening academic accountability, improving standardized assessments and raising academic standards. These initiatives aren’t meant to make school more difficult – they’re meant to help students be more prepared for college, careers and the world beyond. By giving all students access advanced coursework, technical skill development and work based learning, Achieve helps high school graduates become more successful when they head out into the real world.
National College Transition Network
National College Transition Network is for upper level high school students, helping them become prepared to succeed in college and subsequent careers. NCTN holds a yearly conference called Effective Transitions in Adult Education, the goal of which is to help adult learners succeed in postsecondary education and jobs. The member-based organization provides professionals with a wide range of support services and research-based methods on how to support students through major educational transitions.
America Achieves wants to help America improve its high school and college graduation rates. It also wants to help prepare high school students with the skills they need to perform well in cognitive, highly-skilled jobs. The number of these careers has increased to 22 million since 1988. America Achieves gets more students to qualify for jobs in these sectors by teaching them critical thinking and non-routine jobs. It reaches students by identifying influential leaders who already have ideas for instilling change, equipping them with the funding and resources they need to make those dreams come true.
American Youth Policy Forum
American Youth Policy Forum supports students by empowering the policy makers, researchers and practitioners working to reform education. The online forum is filled with resources on critical educational topics such as social emotional learning, education equity, dropout prevention and more. The AYPF hosts a number of in-person events education experts can attend. These cover topics like personalized learning, ESSA reform, career readiness and how to support first generation college students.
YouthBuild brings together low-income and disadvantaged youth who lack access to education, job training, entrepreneurship skills and other essential life experiences. It provides these young people with opportunities to learn and grow by teaching them how to build houses in their communities. In addition to learning construction, project management and collaboration skills, program members directly impact their community by alleviating homelessness and improving overall quality of life. There are about 260 urban and rural YouthBuild programs in 46 states across the country.
This innovation-driven group brings together people who are passionate about learner-centered education. Education Reimagined invites teachers and other education pioneers to collaborate and share ideas at events called Pioneer Labs. These include panels by education experts along with question and answer sessions and activities that promote collaboration and problem solving. The sessions are held throughout the year nationwide.
PIE Network (Policy Innovators in Education) connects the nation’s most passionate teachers with advocacy organizations at the state level. Connecting colleagues to influential organizations gives teachers a voice while enabling them to share ideas with people who have the resources and funds to put them into action. The network is passionate about representing the needs and voices of many different types of people, and this allows them to develop policies and procedures that are all-encompassing.
This online resource brings together the latest research, knowledge, policy advancements and perspectives regarding competency education. CompetencyWorks explains that competency education moves away from a time-based system to focus on more on learning, giving students a more enriching and promising education experience. Specifically, competency-based initiatives focus on personalized education, ensuring that each student excels at their own pace without being left behind. It hosts a national summit on K-12 education, which teachers and educators can attend on an invitation basis.
Clayton Christensen Institute
The Clayton Christensen Institute is named after Harvard education expert Clayton Christensen. It is a think tank that harnesses the power of disruptive innovation to improve education for all students. Through research and public outreach, the institute is focused on elevating community conversations about K-12 education, among other social issues. Its primary education sector focuses on issues like personalized and blended learning, course access, social capital, software tools and more.
Digital Promise believes that technology has the power to teach, motivate, and personalize learning in new and exciting ways. The technology initiative is aimed at helping education leaders, researchers and tech experts improve learning climates through research-based technology applications. The organization brings together a network of technology-driven leaders from across the globe to help them solve problems together and work towards a more technology-driven future. They also document stories of success achieved through their programs, helping inspire other teachers and innovators.
The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) focuses on advancing online education research and sharing distance learning policy innovations with teachers. Its mission is to advance powerful and effective competency-based blended and online learning that improves student outcomes. The organization believes that by supporting research in online learning, they’ll be able to help schools better implement the types of learning they most believe in: online learning, blended learning, competency education and personalized education.
Education Reform Now
This education advocacy group invites teachers and those passionate about education to become involved in education policy. Education Reform Now puts education advocates at the forefront of policy initiatives, helping them by lobbying for education-related bills, advocating for resources and supporting candidates who promote education initiatives. The education system has been slow to adopt political lobbying, especially when compared to industries like healthcare or energy; Education Reform Now is changing that, getting teachers involved in the policies that affect their livelihoods.
The Network for Public Education
The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group committed to strengthening and protecting the integrity of public education. Their goal is to ensure that all students have an equitable environment in which to learn, and that all schools are equipped with skilled teachers who can advance education. These goals are achieved by connecting teachers, parents, students and citizens who are passionate about the power of public education.
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