Education ain’t what it used to be. From rising tuition costs to sinking graduation rates, it’s easy to believe that the system is failing our kids. But if you look closely, you’ll find programs, initiatives, and schools that are pioneering new approaches to education are having a powerful impact on young people. Here are five programs that have caught my eye recently. What new initiatives have you been impressed by?
1. Infancy: The first lessons
In an effort to help close the education gap, the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) implemented the Ready Mind Project. With six research initiatives under way, the Ready Mind Project is conducting longitudinal studies from infancy through first-grade to identify how children learn, effective ways for adults to interact with children, and create better measures of school readiness. The Ready Mind project will enable researchers to identify problems early on, when intervention is most effective.
2. Early childhood education: A nationwide effort
On December 10th, President Obama announced a $1 billion investment for early childhood education, stating that it is “one of the best investments we can make.” According to PBS, only 28% of America’s kids were enrolled in state-funded preschool in 2013, with the White House siting the high cost of early childhood education as the reason. Building on government’s commitment to expanding access to early ed, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation announced that it will provide $68 million to programs in low-income areas, including Michigan, New Mexico, and New Orleans.
3. K–12: Leading the way
2015 started with The Chalkboard Project unveiling a new, statewide initiative in Oregon called Leading for Learning. The program works with superintendents and other administrators who oversee principals, focusing on instructional leadership to help close the achievement gap. The Chalkboard Project and Foundations for a Better Oregon are investing $500,000 to start the initiative, creating a systematic way for educational leaders to support principals, teachers, schools, and students.
4. Higher Ed: Opportunities ahead
In December 2014, the Washington College Access Network (WCAN) traveled to Washington D.C. to join President Obama in announcing new actions to help the majority of students prepare for and graduate college. Not only do the goals include helping all Washingtonians (including low-income and first generation students) obtain a degree or certificate, but the White House announced its support of these goals, putting $10 million toward helping promoted college completion nationwide, and a $30 million AmeriCorps program to improve low-income students’ access to college.
5. Workforce: Coding for the future
With more than 700 technology jobs currently open in Oregon by 2020, and an anticipated 10,000 more in the Portland area by 2020, Worksystems, Inc. and Treehouse developed a partnership to close the skills gap and prepare Oregonians with the skills needed. Code Oregon will provide free coding education to 10,000 residents and then place graduates in leading technology jobs.
Image Credit: Visha Angelova | Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0.