Strengthening classroom instruction at scale across the State of Florida is not something one individual or organization can do alone. It is an undertaking that demands the building of a diverse and powerful coalition of education leaders. It is also an undertaking that promotes the right supports for hard-working teachers that will help them make positive changes that will, in turn, positively affect their students.
Two weeks ago, at Impact Florida’s inaugural Education Summit: Closing the Opportunity Gap in Classrooms, the energy of many leaders who share this vision was palpable. Senior leaders from 12 school districts — representing more than 1 million Florida students — and stakeholders from more than 20 education organizations met to learn from national experts and one another. Participants heard from many experts on how the opportunity gap is present and real, as well as the resources, tools and mindsets that can help address it.
- Dr. Sonja Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Schools, challenged participants to examine the historical inequities in their school districts, and make proactive changes to ensure that black, Latino and low-income students receive high-quality instruction.
- TNTP’s Tequilla Brownie and a panel of Florida educators reviewed findings from TNTP’s new report, The Opportunity Myth, and talked about the importance of putting rigorous, high-quality content in front of students.
- Dr. David Steiner of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy encouraged attendees to consider the value of building knowledge, not just skills, in helping students understand themselves and their community.
- Three national literacy experts, including Barbara Davidson of StandardsWork and Sue Pimentel of Student Achievement Partners, shared current research on the growing reading crisis in the United States and strategies to improve ELA instruction.
Participants also got an early look at Impact Florida’s five conditions that support great teaching, and our resource library of high-impact research, online tools and supports for realizing the Five Conditions. Also debuted at the summit was Instruction Partner’s new Curriculum Support Guide, presented by CEO & Founding Partner Emily Frietag. The guide lays out a framework for districts and schools to assess the quality of new instructional materials and develop plans for effective professional learning and implementation.
Overall, those attending the Summit found great commonality among their priorities and expressed commitment to continuing to work together to strengthen great teaching and close opportunity gaps.
“Impact Florida allows us to collaborate with colleagues across the state,” said Dr. Peggy Aune, Associate Superintendent, Curriculum & Instruction for Collier County Public Schools. “It’s energizing to think we’re all moving in the same direction for the students of Florida.”
Session materials from the Summit are available now in Impact Florida’s Five Conditions Resource Library. Video of the plenary sessions will be available later this month.