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ANet Michigan


The Achievement Network is a nonprofit organization formed in 2005 that addresses two key needs expressed by educators: more support for developing instructional plans aligned to standards and a better understanding of why students struggle with specific material. ANet recently formed a Michigan Network, comprised of 15 Detroit schools, to provide coaching and tools to help educators overcome these challenges. 
Michigan Nightlight: What really differentiates this program?
ANet Manager of Communications and External Relations Elizabeth Dill: What sets ANet apart is our approach to working with schools: it’s grounded in respect. Respect for the professionalism of teaching. Respect for how hard Detroit’s teachers and school leaders work every day. Respect for the challenge of school improvement and juggling competing priorities. This means that we focus on building relationships at each school early in our partnership. Our coaching process begins with listening so we can customize our support to make it directly relevant to them.
 
Our local and national networks of schools are also uniquely valuable. All of our coaching is based on what other schools have found to be effective. Being a part of the network means schools are provided with opportunities to collaborate, problem-solve, and learn from peers throughout the year.
Itís making sure there is time to dig into learning standards; armed with this information, teachers can collaborate to plan their instruction.

 
Finally, we have a fundamental belief that all schools can help their students achieve academic excellence. There’s no quick solution to improving schools, but with this kind of steady, hard work our schools improve outcomes for their students. Across the country, our partner schools have improved at more than twice the rate of their peers in most states in which we operate, and these results have proven to be repeatable in a variety of school settings.
 
What are the keys to success for your program?
School dedication to this work is the number one condition for success. If the will is there, we can help schools build the skill. We’ve seen an incredible enthusiasm from our Michigan schools and the Detroit education community more broadly, so we’re optimistic about the results our schools will be able to achieve over the next several years.
 
From there, it’s all about time. That means carving out time for teachers and leaders to analyze student learning data. It’s making sure there is time to dig into learning standards; armed with this information, teachers can collaborate to plan their instruction.
 
It also means recognizing that this kind of school transformation takes time -- often several years. This doesn’t reduce the urgency of our work, but it does allow leaders to take the long view and plan for lasting change.
 
Ultimately, this kind of information and support are what teachers and school leaders crave. Our schools are facing a problem they don’t quite know how to solve. With ANet’s support, they can figure out where their challenges are and take action to fix them. It’s exactly that kind of work that accelerates student learning.
 
What are the challenges unique to Detroit schools, and how do you plan to overcome them?
Detroit schools – and their leaders – have an incredible amount on their plate. They are juggling a lot of initiatives and requirements, so the challenge is often figuring out how to prioritize the instructional work necessary for student achievement.
 
ANet helps leaders develop the skills needed to navigate this complexity. We will coach Detroit leaders on how to prioritize based on what they’re seeing in their students’ data and what we know to be foundational skills and key levers for change.
 
How does your program take a collective, collaborative approach to creating systemic change for children within the educational system?
One of the strengths of ANet’s model is our ability to facilitate collaboration both within and across schools. Collaboration can be seen at each level of our school partnerships. First, we work side-by-side with school leaders to understand their unique
Because education can be such a powerful equalizer, we view schools as the vehicle for supporting each young person in overcoming any socioeconomic disadvantage he or she may face.
challenges, and then customize our support to help each school meet its goals.
 
We then help schools set up structures to allow their teachers to collaborate throughout the year. Teachers and leaders come together to identify gaps in student learning, then share strategies and tools to fill those gaps.
 
Finally, ANet’s network structure enables educators to collaborate with peers at other schools in Michigan and in ANet’s network of 470 district and charter schools across the country. Schools of varying governance structures, geographies, and student performance levels come together to share best practices and receive training in common areas of interest or need. An approach making a big impact at a Boston school, for example, can now be shared and put to use by a Detroit principal.
 
How will your program address issues of economic, educational, racial equity?
ANet’s core belief is that all students can achieve, regardless of race, income, or circumstance. Our team is deeply committed to providing an excellent education for all students that positions them for college and career success. We know that currently not all of the children in our country have access to college and careers of their choice and that minority students are disproportionately impacted by this reality.
 
We approach helping to solve this problem by supporting schools in leveling and raising expectations and standards across districts, schools, and classrooms to carry our core belief in students. Because education can be such a powerful equalizer, we view schools as the vehicle for supporting each young person in overcoming any socioeconomic disadvantage he or she may face.

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  • The Achievement Network
    The Achievement Network works alongside school leadership teams to strengthen their school-wide practice and culture of using learning standards and achievement data to get breakthrough results for students in low-income communities.

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