ISSUES

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST

DIFFERENCE MAKERS FOR STUDENTS?

The Expectations Project grounds our thinking in the best available research about what works to increase outcomes for students and help them thrive in life.

We are passionate wonks when it comes to numbers, data, case studies and models. Why? Because the evidence is clear. All God’s children can achieve at high levels. What are the biggest game-changers for students, parents and communities?

We believe investments in the following areas can make a huge difference:

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EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

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HIGH STANDARDS & EXPECTATIONS

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QUALITY TEACHERS & LEADERSHIP

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ACCESS TO QUALITY SCHOOLS

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TRAUMA INFORMED SCHOOLS

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RACIAL JUSTICE

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EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Every child should have the opportunity to attend a high quality preschool that prepares them for kindergarten and beyond. This is especially true for kids from low-income families. Ages zero through five are the most critical years for brain development. Children who attend a high quality preschool outpace peers who don’t have access to one. It’s no wonder that low-income kids are falling behind early and often, and through no fault of their own. Let’s invest in them.

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HIGH STANDARDS & EXPECTATIONS

We embrace the idea that all children can learn and achieve at high levels, regardless of their background. The highest performing schools in low-income communities share a common trait of holding students to high expectations—measurable and tangible standards—and helping both students and teachers achieve these goals. Our education leaders should be accountable for these results and communicating those results in a transparent manner.

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QUALITY TEACHERS & LEADERSHIP

Every child deserves high quality teachers and school leaders, given the enormous impact on student achievement. Studies point to teachers as the most significant ‘in school’ variable that can improve student achievement. Teacher effectiveness matters even more for students who are far behind academically. School leaders set the tone for school culture and the most effective principals recruit and retain the best teachers.

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ACCESS TO QUALITY SCHOOLS

All parents should have access to a high quality public school to send their child to, regardless of their zip code, their income level, or color of their skin. Neighborhoods too often define whether or not a child has a high quality school and family income generally determines where a family can afford to live. Fixing struggling neighborhood schools must be a priority, and in the meantime, parents should have other choices for their children.

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TRAUMA INFORMED SCHOOLS

Research shows childhood trauma impacts the part of the brain critical to both emotional and cognitive development, and that children growing up in poverty are more likely to experience trauma—including physical and emotional neglect, violence, homelessness, and lack of access to food, safe water, and clothing. These factors have been shown to have negative impacts on academic performance and an increased likelihood of a student experiencing harmful discipline. Many schools aren’t resourced or equipped to diagnose or support these unique challenges and often mistake these actions for behavioral problems.

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RACIAL JUSTICE

Racism is America’s original sin—from slavery to Jim Crow, public school segregation to mass incarceration. Given our nation’s history, it’s no surprise that racial inequalities interact with our public school system—both at the systemic and micro levels. The contemporary contextual tensions of race in America present faith-motivated public school advocates with both an opportunity and moral responsibility to push for systemic changes that are connected to race and cultural issues.

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