Ed Trust-Midwest and Steelcase Working to Raise Student Achievement

The Steelcase Foundation and The Education Trust-Midwest are working together alongside educators in Kent County to close achievement gaps through a new initiative. The Kent Learning and Innovation Network will develop a network of peer support and collaboration among principals and teachers to raise student achievement in high-poverty schools in Grand Rapids and suburban districts near the city.
“Our support for this project is representative of the Steelcase Foundation’s commitment to quality public education in our community,” according to Julie Ridenour, president of the Steelcase Foundation. “We believe this work is of paramount importance to the long-term well-being of this area and beyond.”

The Kent Learning and Innovation Network is the first initiative at the new Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning based in West Michigan, and headed by Director Chad Tolson. The work will “support the already great things going on,” said Tolson. “We’re here to help the good teachers become great, and help effective teachers become even more highly effective.”

Learn more about EdTrust-Midwest’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

Related Articles:
Steelcase Foundation awards $2M to education group to raise achievementGrand Rapids Press,

Pilot program at Grand Rapids area schools aims to close achievement gap, Michigan Radio

Legislature should take best from both budgets: evaluation and early literacy

Last week, the Michigan Senate passed their budget for next fiscal year, sending it to a conference committee with the House of Representatives. As leaders work through the differences between the budgets, The Education Trust-Midwest continues to highlight the importance of investments in educator evaluation and support, and early literacy.

These two priorities – educator evaluation and support, and early literacy – are proven to make a major difference for student achievement.

Teaching quality is the most significant in-school factor for student learning. Tennessee has proven how investing in research-based programs of educator evaluation, training and support can quickly lead to better outcomes for students. Not long ago, Tennessee students lagged behind Michigan students in fourth-grade reading. Now, just a few years after implementing a high-quality statewide system of educator evaluation and support, Tennessee leads the nation for student growth and their students have surpassed Michigan in fourth-grade reading.

We should also learn from the successful policies of Massachusetts – which has the highest student achievement in the nation. Years ago, they recognized that for students to succeed in school, they must be able to read. Their commitment, hard work and investment in early literacy and learning has paid off and today they are the national leader in fourth-grade reading.

As legislative leaders continue to work on the state budget, we hope that they will take the best from both and invest in what works. Investing in teaching quality and early literacy will help all Michigan students succeed.

Photo: A conversation on accountability

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EdTrust-Midwest Executive Director Amber Arellano, Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Teresa Weatherall Neal, and Tim Wood, special assistant to President on charter schools at Grand Valley State University after a panel on charter authorizer accountability in Grand Rapids, MI, April 30, 2015. (Photo: Adam Bird).

In its efforts to celebrate high-performing Michigan education stakeholders, The Education Trust-Midwest partnered with Grand Rapids Public Schools to host a community conversation on charter school authorizer accountability in Grand Rapids. EdTrust Midwest’s recent report, “Accountability for All” identified Grand Rapids Public Schools and Grand Valley State University as two of the state’s top performing charter school authorizers.

Tim Wood (right), special assistant to President for charter schools at Grand Valley State University, and John Helmholdt, executive director of communication and external affairs of Grand Rapids Public Schools, shared best practices and lessons learned in charter authorizing. EdTrust-Midwest executive director, Amber Arellano, moderated the discussion.

Capital Update

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, Wednesday, May 13 at 10:30am in Room 426 of the State Capitol Building. The committee will hear a presentation on student assessments from the Michigan Department of Education.

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION meets on Tuesday, May 12 at 9:30am in the Ladislaus B. Dombrowski Board Room of the Hannah Building in Lansing. The agenda is available here.

Click here for full update.