Educational Excellence ResourcesChildren are born learners. Their earliest experiences lay neural networks that inform later development and influence success throughout their formal education years.  There is no shortage of opportunities for educators, families and community members to support children’s learning by providing equitable education from birth through transitions to college and the workplace.  These opportunities not only bolster a child’s formal education, they also generate strong local ties and encourage future excitement and participation in community growth.     

The following best practice resources are structured around indicators integral to the educational success of children: 

If you have questions  please contact Kelly Favory, a member of the Educational Excellence Knowledge Group.

School Readiness

 Title  Summary
High Scope Perry Preschool Study
High Scope Educational Research Foundation
From 1962–1967, 123 African American 3 and 4 year-olds at high risk for failing school were randomly divided into a program group that received a high-quality preschool program and a comparison group who received no preschool program. The study found that adults at age 40 who had the preschool program had higher earnings, were more likely to hold a job, had committed fewer crimes, and were more likely to have graduated from high school than adults who did not have preschool.   
Lifetime Effects: The High Scope Perry Preschool Study Through Age 40
High Scope Educational Research Foundation
This video details findings of the High Scope Perry Preschool Study through age 40.  
NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD)
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Working with more than 1,300 children  from infancy through age 15, researchers analyzed how different child care arrangements related to measurements of the children's health, behavior, school performance and other indicators of development.  
Social Issue Report:  School Readiness
This Social Issue Report provides background and context on school readiness, recommends an approach to investing in school readiness, and outlines steps for taking action. 
Timothy Bartik: The Economic Case for Preschool
Timothy Bartik
Timothy Bartik makes the macro-economic case for preschool education -- and explains why you should be happy to invest in it, even if you don't have kids that age (or kids at all). 
Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read prepares America's youngest children to succeed in school by partnering with doctors to prescribe books and encourage families to read together. 
Born Learning
United Way
Everyday life is a learning experience for children. Born Learning is a public engagement campaign that helps parents, grandparents, and caregivers explore ways to turn everyday moments into fun learning opportunities. 
Project Ready for School
United Way of Greater Chattanooga
Project Ready for School works to ensure that every child enters school with the skills necessary to be successful.
Muncie Before 5
Muncie Action Plan
Key organizations throughout Muncie and Delaware County have adopted early childhood development as a primary economic development strategy for our region.  
National Association for the Education of Young Children
NAEYC's mission is to serve and act on behalf of the needs, rights and well-being of all young children with primary focus on the provision of educational and developmental services and resources.
This national, nonprofit organization provides parents, professionals and policymakers the knowledge and know-how to nurture early development.
National Institute for Early Childhood Research
The Institute offers independent, research-based advice and technical assistance to policymakers, journalists, researchers, and educators in support of high-quality, effective early childhood education. 
Center on the Developing Child
Harvard University
The center’s mission is to use science to enhance well-being through innovations in policy and practice.  This site has a wealth of resources focused on early brain development. 
I am your Child Foundation
Parent's Action for Children
This foundation aims to raise public awareness about the critical importance the prenatal period through the first early years plays in a child’s healthy brain development. 
National Center for Family Literacy
The family literacy approach harnesses the strength of parent-child bonds to help those who are most at risk of failing economically, emotionally and socially. 
Daniels Fund
The Daniels Fund’s make grants that improve the work of parents and early childhood education providers in building school readiness in our youngest learners. 
Rosie's For All Kids Foundation
This foundation provides financial support to nonprofit programs serving economically disadvantaged and at-risk children and their families. The foundation's main focus is center-based child care. 

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Grade Level Reading by 4th Grade 

Title Summary 
Reading on Grade Level in Third Grade: How Is It Related to High School Performance and College Enrollment?
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Researchers examine whether third-grade reading level can be used as an indicator of potential performance on four future educational outcome measures: eighth-grade reading level, ninth-grade course performance, high school graduation, and college attendance. 
Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of ThirdGrade Matters
Annie E. Casey Foundation
This special report affirms that children who read on grade level by the end of third grade are more successful in school, work, and in life. 
The Nation's Report Care: Reading 2011
National Center for Educational Statistics
Nationally representative samples of 213,100 fourth-graders and 168,200 eighth-graders participated in the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure their reading comprehension across two types of texts: literary and informational.  
3rd Grade Reading Success Matters
The Campaign for Grade Level Reading
The Campaign for Grade Level Reading is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. 
United Way Early Grade Reading Toolkit
United Way World Wide
This toolkit provides tips, tools and templates for galvanizing your community around early grade reading, “promising practices” from United Ways and a wide variety of resources. 
One Book One Community
American Library Association
The ALA Public Programs Office has developed several resources for librarians building community-wide reading programs, including a CD containing an extensive planning guide and customizable graphics for “One Book” programs. 
Schools of Hope
Heart of West Michigan United Way
United Way’s Schools of Hope help struggling students through a three-pronged approach that includes school tutoring, after school literacy programs and family literacy classes.  This award-winning program currently partners with four school districts – Grand Rapids, Cedar Springs, Godfrey-Lee and Godwin Heights. 
International Reading Association
More than 60,000 members strong, the Association supports literacy professionals through a wide range of resources, advocacy efforts, volunteerism, and professional development activities. 
Literacy Research Association
This community of scholars is dedicated to promoting research that enriches the knowledge, understanding, and development of lifespan literacies in a multicultural and multilingual world. 
American Reading Forum
This organization facilitates the dissemination of ideas and research and provides its members opportunities for critical discussion of ideas, issues, research and emerging research interests and paradigms. 
National Center for Family Literacy
NCFL inspires and engages families in the pursuit of education and learning together.
Annie E. Casey Foundation
A private charitable organization dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children in the United States. 

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Successful Transition to Middle School 

Title Summary 
This We Believe:  Keys to Educating Young Adolescents
Association for Middle Level Education
A landmark position paper that delineates 16 characteristics for successful schools for 10- to 15-year-olds. Research and cumulative, empirical evidence have confirmed that these characteristics when present over time lead to higher levels of student achievement and overall development. 
Supporting Students in their Transition to Middle School
Association for Middle Level Education
Collaboration among all adults who share responsibility and concern for children is the most effective transition strategy in the move from elementary to middle school environments.
The Boomerang Project
Middle school orientation and transition program that welcomes 6th/7th graders and makes them feel comfortable throughout the first year of their middle school experience. 
Middle School Matters
Georgia Department of Education
This toolkit provides educators with the conceptual framework for middle school transition, materials to obtain and organize student information, and suggestions for involving students and families in the transition planning process. 
Ventures Scholars Program
This site provides parents/guardians with valuable information about how to help intermediate school students excel in school and prepare for future success. 
Middle School Article Archive
Practical advice for a broad range of issues that come up in middle school: staying safe on the Internet, teaching your child to be self-reliant, kids at home alone, getting your kids organized, and more. 
Taking Center Stage:  A Portal for Middle Grade Educators
California Department of Education
Information and resources for educators to help children transition to middle school.  
Colorado Department of Education Transition Resources
Transition resources to support student success.  
Association for Middle Level Education
AMLE is the only national education association dedicated exclusively to those in the middle grades.  
Transition to Middle School
National Education Association
Article and additional resources on ensuring a successful middle school experience.  
Edna McConnell Clark Foundation
Through its Program for Student Achievement, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation supports urban school districts in their efforts to improve learning opportunities for students in grades six through eight. 

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High School Graduation 

Title Summary
Dropout Prevention
National Education Association
Links to nationwide data on high school graduation, research on completion, and prevention of dropout.  
The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools
Alliance for Excellent Education
Every school day, nearly 7,000 students become dropouts. Annually, that adds up to about 1.2 million students who will not graduate from high school. These individuals will be far more likely than graduates to spend their lives periodically unemployed, on government assistance, or cycling in and out of the prison system. 
Destination: Graduation
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
This program helps more than 3,700 local students graduate from high school and pursue advanced education. The program aligns with the United 2020 community goal of preparing 60 percent of high school graduates to succeed in education after high school. 
Graduating Our Future: A Breakthrough Initiative
United Way of Forsyth County
A successful effort to increase the high school graduation rate by ensuring that 9th graders complete high school within four years.
Dropout Prevention Campaign
America's Promise Alliance
The 105 summits — one in all 50 states and 55 cities with the largest dropout rates — were held from 2008-10. The summits brought together more than 30,000 mayors and governors, business owners, child advocates, school administrators, students and parents to develop workable solutions and action plans. 
National Education Association
NEA supports making high school graduation a national priority by investing $10 billion over the next 10 years to support dropout prevention programs, starting with $1 billion appropriation in FY08.
Alliance for Excellent Education
Cutting the number of high school dropouts in half nationally would save $7.3 billion in annual Medicaid spending, according to a new report from the Alliance for Excellent Education.  
America's Promise Alliance
Created by America's Promise, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center, the updated Grad Nation Guidebook provides effective approaches, best practices and tools to help reduce dropout rates in an easy-to-use online format. 

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Cradle to College and Career

Title Summary 
Ready By 21: Case Studies
The Forum for Youth Investment
Communities and states across the country are using Ready by 21 Strategies to improve outcomes for children and youth. The stories here provide insight on how leaders have improved their efforts using the Building Blocks for Effective Change. 
Geoffrey Canada: Our failing schools. Enoughis enough!
In this TED talk, education advocate Geoffrey Canada dares the educational system to look at the data, think about the customers and make systematic shifts in order to help a greater number of children to excel. 
Harlem Children's Zone
Called "One of the most ambitious social-service experiments of our time," by The New York Times, the Harlem Children's Zone Project is a unique, holistic approach to rebuilding a community so that its children can stay on track through college and go on to the job market.  
Assessing the Harlem Children's Zone
The Heritage Foundation 
While the available data indicate that the HCZ has improved the educational outcomes of participating students, some question the magnitude of its successes and the high cost of its programs. 
Ready by 21
Forum for Youth Investment
A set of innovative strategies developed by the Forum for Youth Investment that helps communities improve the odds that all children and youth will be ready for college, work and life.
National Council for Community and Education Partnerships
This national non-profit, non-partisan organization works to increase access to higher education for economically disadvantaged students.
Promise Neighborhood Program
United States Department of Education
The vision of the program is that all children and youth growing up in Promise Neighborhoods have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support that will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and a career. 
Promise Neighborhoods Research Consortium
The Consortium provides help to individuals and organizations that are trying to bring about change in neighborhoods.
W.K. Kellog Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. 
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - College Ready Education Program
The Foundation's College-Ready Education program aims to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college; the Postsecondary Success program aims to dramatically increase the number of young people who obtain a postsecondary degree or certificate with labor-market value. 
AT&T Foundation Aspire
AT&T is stepping up its commitment in education to help more students graduate from high school ready for careers and college, and to ensure the country is better prepared to meet global competition. 

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Achievement Gap

Title Summary
Closing the Achievement Gap: All Children Can Learn
The evidence continues to mount, clearly indicating that schools, school districts, and communities who have the will and passion to make a difference in the outcomes of all students have been successful in closing gaps. 
The Impact of Achievement Gaps on State and National Economies
National Education Association
Current research reports are listed, which address the impact of the achievement gaps on state and national economies. 
It's Possible: Closing the Achievement Gap in Academic Performance
Ounce of Prevention Fund
Developing and implementing effective programs and policies that narrow the gap are essential to building our country’s human capital and maintaining our competitiveness in a global economy. 
2011 C.A.R.E. Guide: Strategies for Closingthe Achievement Gaps
National Education Association
The 2011 edition of the C.A.R.E. Guide contains student activities, educator reflection opportunities, and video clips of experts sharing research and practice tips for educating culturally diverse students and students from low-income families. 
Schools of Hope
United Way of Dane County
For generations, a racial achievement gap has existed locally. United Way and Schools of Hope partners are changing that. 
Closing the Achievement Gap: Technical Assistance to Schools and School Support Organizations
Annie E. Casey Foundation
This publication offers concrete examples of how innovative schools and organizations can use technical assistance to build capacity and improve outcomes for children and families. 
The NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation provides grants to improve the academic achievement of students in U.S. public schools and public higher education institutions in any subject area(s). 

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Cultural Competency 

Title Summary 
But That's Just Good Teaching! The Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy
Theory Into Practice
Describes the centrality of culturally relevant pedagogy to academic success for minority students who are poorly served in public schools. 
Schools Within the Context of Community
Ball State University
The Schools Within the Context of Community Program is an immersive teacher education initiative offering candidates the opportunity to experience children's lives both in and outside formal schooling, and to examine the challenges and strengths inherent in the community.
Grow Your Own Teachers
Grow Your Own Illinois
The Grow Your Own Teachers initiative is an innovative partnership of community organizations, higher education institutions, and school districts that supports parents, community members, and paraprofessionals in low-income communities to become highly qualified teachers. 
Grow Your Own Teachers:  Grassroots Change for Teacher Education
Teachers College Press
This book describes the evolution of a local school reform movement in Chicago that now serves as a model for change in schools and teacher preparation programs across the country.
Raising External Funds for Grow Your Own Teachers Initiatives
Grow Your Own Illinois
This document provides helpful information about fundraising for GYO projects. 

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Community Mobilization 

Title Summary 
Education Research Overview
United Way Worldwide
United Way is working through its network of 1,276 state and local United Ways to cut the high school dropout rate in half by 2018. has put a stake in the ground: the number of high school dropouts must be cut in half by 2018. 
Building Support for Effective Teaching: The Impact of Public Will
United Way Worldwide
This report details how communities mobilized to advocate for bold reform in the area of effective teaching.  
Supporting the Education Pipeline: A Business Engagement Toolkit for Community-based Organizations 
Corporate Voices for Working Families
This companion website to the Supporting the Education Pipeline toolkit has been created to help the business community implement engagement efforts to support the education pipeline.
United Way Campaign for the Common Good: Community Conversation Workbook
The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation
Community conversations are focused on gaining a stronger sense of people’s aspirations for the community. With this knowledge communities can be more effective, more relevant, better mobilize people around education and ultimately have greater impact. 
Engaging Cities:  How Municipal LeadersCan Mobilize Communities to Improve Public Schools
Annenberg Institute for School Reform
This report looks at five cities where mayors are responding to the challenge of improving local public schools by seeking new and more effective ways to engage key segments of their communities. 
Parents United for Public Schools
Parents United exists to unite and empower those who value public education in the state of Minnesota to be strong advocates for excellence in our public schools.
Coalition for Community Schools
Institute for Educational Leadership
An alliance of national, state and local organizations in education K-16, youth development, community planning and development, family support, health and human services, government and philanthropy as well as national, state and local community school networks.
Alliance for Community Teachers and Schools
Community Mobilization for Education; Professional Associations
A group of activists dedicated to the belief that urban children deserve to grow up in nurturing school communities, where each can develop a strong, capable, and hopeful identity. 
The Children's Aid Society National Center for Community Schools
The Children's Aid Society
In 1994, The Children's Aid Society (CAS) founded the National Center for Community Schools in response to increased demand for information and advice about community schools implementation. Since then the Center has facilitated the development of over 15,000 community school adaptations nationally and internationally. 
Federal Funding to Support Community Schools
Institute for Educational Leadership
This page contains links to federal funding sources, across Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice and more, which can be used in implementing a comprehensive community schools strategy.

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Eva Zygmunt

Eva Zygmunt 

Knowledge Group Fellow
Associate Professor
Department of Elementary Education
Brenda Yates Habich

Brenda Yates Habich

Information Services Librarian
Ball State University Libraries
John Fallon

John Fallon

Associate VP of Economic Development & Community Engagement
Building Better Communities
Kelly Favory

Kelly Favory

Director of Greater Indianapolis Area Distance Education Programs
Building Better Communities

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Building Better Communities
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Ball State University
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