Advocates have long known that in order to build public will for change, stakeholders must have an awareness of the challenges that students and schools face. Raising public awareness can take many forms, and advocacy organizations in Mississippi and Michigan recently released reports that led to action.
In April, Mississippi First released a report that explored student testing at the state and district levels. Their analysis uncovered significant variations between districts, with some districts requiring six hours and six tests and another district requiring as many as 22 hours and 50 tests.
After the release of the report, a task force was charged with examining the issue. Rachel Canter, executive director of Mississippi First, explained, “One of the things we’re looking at is what’s the number, type, quality, and the amount of assessments that students are taking; whether or not there’s anything we can do to streamline those assessments for the students, and what the best testing practices are for students and teachers so that…”
“we know we are taking tests to get the data we need but we’re not taking too many tests and taking time away from instruction.”
Education champions in Michigan have also issued multiple reports this year, and intense scrutiny of the state’s K-12 system is driving multiple groups to push for improvement. In March, The Education Trust-Midwest released Top Ten for Education: Not By Chance, which delves deeply into the challenges Michigan schools and leaders face in raising student achievement.
Business Leaders for Michigan also issued a report that exposed the bleak results in the state and compared Michigan’s progress to that of Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Tennessee. In early May, media and business organizations jointly hosted a Solutions Summit, which included Ed Trust-Midwest executive director Amber Arellano as a speaker: “I’m excited because I feel like this is really a moment when we’re seeing a shift in the state,” Arellano said.
“I think we’re seeing a shift from awareness to urgency and a shift from urgency to deep collaboration across many sectors, and we’re seeing a shift to action.”
Ed Trust-Midwest also recently released a five-point plan to improve education that drew on lessons learned from Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, and Massachusetts. Three weeks later, Ed Trust-Midwest and more than 30 other organizations announced Launch Michigan, a broad coalition of “unlikely allies” including the teachers’ union, local chambers of commerce, school districts, TFA-Detroit, and others. Arellano said, “This new partnership can make a big difference in advancing the pursuit of educational excellence and equity for all Michigan students, and can be a tremendous resource in 2019 when our state has a new governor and many new state lawmakers.”
Looking for new ways to raise awareness in your state? Reach out for a connection to learn more about the strategy in Mississippi and Michigan.