Partnering to Make a Difference in Equitable Education in 2022
From the youngest children just starting their schooling journeys to high school and college students looking ahead to future careers, learning touches all our lives. In the past year we have been proud to partner with organizations across the country in pursuit of excellent and equitable education. Here are just a few highlights from 2022.
COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF EARLY CHILDHOOD
Building Excellent Early Education in Colorado
How can Colorado families be sure the state’s preschool and child care providers are equipped to give children safe, engaging, culturally responsive, and equitable care? Education Northwest partnered with the agency to develop more than 50 free, online courses on a wide variety of topics—from injury prevention and safe sleep for infants to nutrition and an introduction to trauma-informed care. The courses, offered in both English and Spanish, help the people who care for young children in Colorado get licensed, stay in compliance with regulations, and provide the best possible educational experience.
Preparing Tomorrow’s Workers for Career and Life Success
SkillsUSA provides educational programs, events, and competitions that support career and technical education students and teachers across the U.S. The organization helps each student excel by complementing the technical education they receive in school with engaging activities and programs that help them define, implement, and measure their career-readiness skills.
Since 2018, we have worked with SkillsUSA to develop multiple series of online learning experiences to adapt the organization’s in-person instructional materials for career-readiness and leadership-development for distance learning. These online versions extend SkillsUSA’s reach, making its programs and offerings more available and accessible to student members and their instructors.
BLACKFEET COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Bringing College and Community Together for a Better Future for Native Students
When Blackfeet Community College received new grant funding in January 2022, administrators saw an opportunity to involve students, faculty, and the community in deciding what kind of academic programming they should develop. The Tribal community college, located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, Montana, partnered with Education Northwest to conduct a community needs assessment.
Through interviews with administrators, faculty, and community partners, as well as student talking circles and surveys, we investigated how the college can align academic programs with workforce development opportunities in the community. Other questions included which two-year programs would be good candidates for expansion into four-year bachelor’s degrees and how the college is meeting students’ academic, linguistic, and other needs. All this data will inform the partnership’s next step: a strategic plan to inform future decision-making to best serve Native students.
OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY
Training Teachers for Multilingual Student Equity
Multilingual students bring cultural diversity and other assets to the classroom. But teachers don’t necessarily have the training, experience, or skills to help students who are learning English gain proficiency in other subjects, such as math or history. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition offers grants to support teacher training in this area.
Oregon State University partnered with Education Northwest to evaluate its TEAMS program, which trained 124 teachers from 2016 to 2022. Our findings showed that having a teacher who completed the endorsement had a significant impact on the English language arts standardized test scores of multilingual students—an improvement of almost 14 percentile points.
BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION
Aligning Systems to Address Equity Gaps
The COVID-19 pandemic presented schools with unprecedented challenges, many of which persist as students return to the classroom. Among the obstacles is a tendency for different departments or roles to become siloed, with different and sometimes conflicting systems coexisting in one district or school building. Going remote for pandemic safety only exacerbated this issue, worsening equity gaps for Black, Brown, and Indigenous students and students experiencing poverty.
To help address the situation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offered school districts grants to collaborate with technical assistance providers like Education Northwest. We worked with the Evergreen and Edmonds school districts in Washington State to align strategic plans, school improvement plans, and multi-tiered systems of supports, building leadership buy-in for implementation and helping all students get the support they need to thrive.
Onward to 2023
Thank you for joining us in pursuit of our vision of making education excellent and equitable for all. We look forward to continuing these partnerships, and forging new ones, in the year to come.