Lailah Wesby of Gary is a champion track star at a young age, earning gold and bronze medals at the recent AAU 14-Under Youth National Indoor Championship in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Her biggest supporter is her older brother, Brandon Wesby, who is a successful track coach, and a staff member at Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy.
For both Lailah and Brandon, this competition held at the Bowen Fieldhouse on the campus of Eastern Michigan University brought mixed emotions, for it was at this facility that their late mother, Lisa Wesby, last saw her daughter compete.
"Eastern Michigan is my favorite place to run. It's the last place my mom saw me run so I try to do really good there," said Lailah. A strong supporter of Lailah's academics and athletics, their mother "never missed a beat," said Brandon, the girls track coach at East Chicago Central.
This week, Lailah Wesby received a special visit from three female Olympians on Monday's episode of "Steve Harvey" -- https://youtu.be/TSdiMzrBS-M. Harvey introduced her to Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin, who each won a medal in the 100-meter hurdles at the Rio Olympics. The women made history by giving the United States its first sweep in that event.
In addition, Harvey surprised Branden with a $5,000 gift on behalf of Green Dot, the issuer of prepaid debit cards, to help with Lailah’s training and travel expenses.
Similar to school accountability measures and standards implemented in the United States, the work of our colleagues in the UK comes under the review of the government agency – Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills. Ofsted inspects and regulates services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages.
In the recent “Primary Education Report to Parliament” one of the schools participating in EdisonLearning UK’s Aspire program – Jane Duke Junior School in Basildon, Essex, England, was highlighted. Below is the report:
In 2015 OFSTED graded the Jane Duke Junior School as “Requires Improvement”. Nonetheless with good leadership highlighted and good behaviour and safety. We were commended for our systems of safeguarding children’s welfare practice – ‘The school’s work to keep pupils safe and secure is outstanding’.
Amongst our successes in 2015 we saw a Good Level of Development for Early Years Foundation Stage rise from 44% to 64%, the Year 1 phonics check rose from 56% to 71%, our Infant Average Points Score improved and the Year 6 results increased by more than 10% at level 4 combined and increased outcomes in all three progress measures. How did we achieve this?
In 2013 we were approached by a cluster of schools which were working with National Association of Head-teachers and the DfE to develop an improvement programme with EdisonLearning – delivering the Aspire programme. We joined this school improvement partnership known as Aspire and have seen a number of benefits as a result.
We have embedded quality teaching and learning by developing goals to achieve the OFSTED schedule and national expectations. We have identified what adults do to ensure learners are effective and improving their results. The project has also allowed us to develop distributed leadership more effectively.
Key leadership roles for five strands were allocated to staff and have focused on the school’s desired outcomes and the vehicles to get us there. Leadership has focused on asking staff to take on responsibility across the school with teachers in charge playing a vital role on school improvement with year group leaders and subject leaders taking ownership and accountability of improved outcomes for pupils.
The assessment for learning strand has developed our systems in order to access, track and plan for pupil learning. We use achievement team meetings to focus on the outcomes and barriers to success for the pupils. The staff then worked together to find solutions and report back and develop further as the needs of the pupils dictate.
The Aspire pilot has allowed us to embed further what we do well and explore other opportunities to improve the outcomes for all our pupils. We are now developing this further through the Basildon Excellence Panel, working in clusters with other Basildon schools for the good of all the pupils within Basildon. Our aim is to have every school in Basildon with good and outstanding OFSTED ratings.
GARY — Dancing, chanting, selfies and embraces were the theme of the night for the 51 graduating seniors of Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy on Friday.
The graduates adjusted one another's outfits, went over speeches and danced off their nerves before being presented to family and friends.
Graduates shared advice for the underclassmen.
“When anyone tells you that you can't, that's your key word to push harder,” said National Honor Society graduate Chardinae Adams.
“No one can choose your destiny, but you stay strong and no matter what they say about you, push yourself to succeed,” Cary Martin said.
Principal Donna Henry welcomed and thanked the parents and guardians of the graduates for all of their hard work and involvement in the students' lives.
“The Class of 2016 are excellent examples of role models, mentors, and have set the bar high,” she said. “Yes, they have experienced tough times, but those moments are the very thing that has shaped them to the strong, independent individuals they are today. I know the Cass of 2016 will do great things for the world and their communities.”
School faculty member Jamie Wolverton introduced salutatorian Matayzia Hughes. Wolverton had trouble holding back tears during her introduction.
“From your current location, insert greatness as the destination of your GPS,” Hughes said. “I do not mean global positioning satellite, I mean GPS as in Great Problem Survivor. There will be great obstacles which we must overcome, but with sheer determination we will all make it.”
Valedictorian Princess Tucker expressed how making an effort to talk with the dean of students on several occasions helped change her life around.
“Previously, I attended Theodore Roosevelt Career & Technical Academy as a seventh- and eighth-grader,” Tucker said. “I personally was a mess. I tended to fight and act buck wild on a daily basis. However, when Edison Learning brought along Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy, I became a better individual.”
Tucker closed her speech with some final words of wisdom.
“You owe it to yourself to be the best that you can be because when you are not your best, others are less than they should or could be.”
Graduating seniors who were recognized were: Valedictorian, Princess Tucker; Salutatorian, Matayzia Hughes; Principal’s Award (Consistent Exemplification of the EdisonLearning 8 Core Values), Gary Davis; and the Superintendent’s Award (Consistent Exemplification of Leadership), Matayzia Hughes.
Independent Study: Partnership Between England’s School Leaders’ Union and EdisonLearning is Helping to Improve UK Schools.
Recently released independent research shows that the Aspire Project, a school improvement program developed by the NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers – a trade union and professional association representing more than 28,500 members in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), in partnership with the international education services provider -EdisonLearning, has proven to be, “an effective and sustainable way of helping schools to improve standards.”
The research conducted by the University of Derby’s College of Education shows that:
- Aspire pilot schools have made twice the improvement of schools nationally for both progress and attainment with exceptional gains in Mathematics at level 5 as compared to national averages.
- Half of the schools have demonstrated a transformational improvement of 10 per cent or more in the percentage of pupils attaining Level 4 or above in Reading, Writing and Mathematics combined.
- 63 per cent of pilot schools have been inspected by Ofsted (the United Kingdom’s Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) and rated as good over the course of the NAHT Aspire programme with more forecast by the end of the third year.
- Both case studies and survey respondents (90 per cent) were overwhelmingly positive about their experiences and the impact on the whole school.
Commenting on the report, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, says: “we created Aspire to offer a credible, school to school system to help boost standards. The government is keen to talk about the structures in education, evidenced by its fixation with schools becoming academies, but is less keen to talk about school improvement as well.
“This independent report shows that NAHT Aspire is a credible pathway for school improvement. Aspire is value for money, it’s an example of the profession taking responsibility for school standards, and above all it works.
“NAHT believes Aspire should be recognised as a sustainable, successful and realistic response to the question of raising standards. The ambition now is to roll out the programme to a wider audience, including primaries, secondaries and special schools. It’s not just about helping a particular type of school, but will be about school improvement across the board, including helping good schools to become outstanding.”
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan says: “The Aspire project demonstrates the potential of what can be achieved when schools work together to share expertise and drive up standards.
"As we move towards a more school-led system then collaboration will soon be commonplace across the country, ensuring every child has access to the excellent education they deserve."
Tim Nash at EdisonLearning, NAHT’s partner in the Aspire programme, says: “It has been a privilege to work with the schools involved in the pilot, and we thank them for the energy, enthusiasm and commitment they have shown over the past three years. It is impossible to overstate the vital part they have played in helping Aspire develop into the ‘blueprint for the future of school improvement’.
“With more than 100 schools and 13 networks now engaged in the programme, involving schools of every character and context, Aspire is now well on its way to becoming established as a national school improvement movement, reflecting the power of research and evidence to guide in-school practice, building collaboration and trust between schools, and investing in the development of the current and prospective leaders that are so critical to the future health of our education system.”
Commenting on the report, lead researcher Dr Siobhan Neary from the University of Derby’s College of Education says: “Our analysis shows that NAHT’s Aspire programme has successfully supported school improvement. Many schools reported that Aspire is a transformative programme, changing the way they see themselves. This has improved progress, attainment and pupil behavior, whilst increasing the confidence levels of many staff.”
Additional information can be found at: http://nahtaspire.co.uk/accolades-and-national-endorsement-for-naht-aspire/.
The Indiana State Board of Education on Friday, April 15, approved a one-year contract extension with EdisonLearning, setting the stage for a new, long-term plan to restore the academic health of Roosevelt College and Career Academy.
By a unanimous 11-0 vote, the Board voted to extend the contract with EdisonLearning for another year to allow the education company to work on a long-term agreement with the Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC). The contract is viewed as a transitional move to help the two organizations create a solid plan to help improve the school’s academic performance.
While the move quelled concerns about the future of Gary’s most storied Black institution, the decision also signaled a fresh beginning between EdisonLearning and the GCSC, which will have a bigger role in shaping the future of the 95-year-old school.
For the past five years, Roosevelt has been under state control after it received six consecutive F grades on the Indiana accountability report. While under state control, Indiana partnered with EdisonLearning. Under EdisonLearning’s leadership, Roosevelt’s academic performances improved slightly, but the school continued to get failing grades by the state. With
EdisonLearning’s contract set to expire in June, parents and students at Roosevelt voiced concern about the school’s future at a public hearing on March 23.
At that hearing, some Roosevelt students and alumni voiced their support for EdisonLearning, saying they liked some of the organization’s teaching techniques. Other speakers wanted the state to return Roosevelt back to the GCSC.
Eddie Melton, who represents Northwest Indiana on the state board, said Roosevelt has made improvements under EdisonLearning. Although Roosevelt still received an F grade while the company operated the school, Melton said math ISTEP Plus scores increased 27 percent and English/Language arts scores are up 11 percent.
State officials believe Roosevelt needs more time to improve academically with the help of the GCSC. The one-year contract will allow EdisonLearning to manage Roosevelt during this transition. EdisonLearning and the GCSC will create a transformation zone, which will help turnaround low-performing elementary schools, which would become feeder schools to Roosevelt.
Once they have reached a long-term agreement, the two organizations will bring their formal plan and agreement before the Board for a final decision during the 2016-17 school year, according to Marc Lotter, spokesman for the Indiana State Board of Education.
Lotter said Roosevelt would still remain under state supervision. He said part of the long-term plan for Roosevelt would include benchmarks and metrics that can be used to measure continued improvement.
GCSC’s new role in Roosevelt’s future is a vindication for the school district, which did not have say in the school’s curriculum or operations when the state took control of the school in 2011. GCSC recently turned around Gary West Side Leadership Academy, a school that state wanted to closed after five consecutive years of failing grades. In the most recent state report, the school improved to a C grade.
While under state control, EdisonLearning clashed with the GCSC on some issues. But after the board’s decision on Friday, leaders from both schools, GCSC Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and EdisonLearning CEO Thom Jackson issued a joint statement:
“It is our firm desire to address all aspects of school improvement; building leadership capacity; enhance the learning environment, engage families and students; improve teaching; and promote intelligent use of data to best address the personalized needs of all students.”
Melton expressed his support for the partnership.
“Roosevelt is a historic institution with a long tradition of producing outstanding students and distinguished alumni,” he said. “This contract extension allows EdisonLearning and Gary schools to partner with community stakeholders to provide the best possible outcome for Roosevelt students.”
Roosevelt was one of seven turnaround academies whose futures were decided by the state officials at their monthly business meeting in Indianapolis.