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Mentoring Partnerships

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The backbone of mentoring’s infrastructure is the growing Mentoring Partnership Network that MENTOR helps build and support.

MENTOR is scaling impact by developing and supporting a national network of affiliate Mentoring Partnerships. Mentoring Partnerships are non-partisan, public-private organizations that galvanize local or statewide mentoring movements, providing the leadership and infrastructure necessary to support the expansion of quality mentoring relationships. Mentoring Partnerships serve a unique role as a clearinghouse for training, resources, awareness, and advocacy, providing the critical link between MENTOR’s national efforts and local organizations and programs that foster and support quality mentoring relationships. Mentoring Partnerships are designated MENTOR affiliates that inform and distribute our research and resources.

Mentoring Partnerships are focused on the following key priorities:

Advance the quality of the local mentoring field by building relationships with new and existing mentoring programs and provide capacity building trainings and technical assistance grounded in evidence-based approaches.
Engage a wide variety of public and private stakeholders to increase both the number of volunteer mentors as well as resources for the local mentoring field.
Collect data on a regular basis to describe the impact of mentoring in the broader community and identify gaps in the range of services needed.
Expand public and private support and investment in mentoring through public awareness and advocacy efforts that foster communities that prioritize quality youth mentoring. Mentoring Partnerships have developed solid, field-tested solutions to some of the mentoring movement’s greatest challenges.

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USA Science & Engineering Festival 2016

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Their achievements of the past continue to help shape and define the essence of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) today. This is the legacy of such early innovators as: Benjamin Banneker, the mathematician who helped map out and plan the city of Washington, D.C.; Charles Drew, the surgeon who pioneered blood transfusion; Garret Morgan, who invented the gas mask and the modern traffic light; botanist George Washington Carver, whose innovations with the peanut and other plants continue to enrich our lives and made him a trusted science advisor to such luminaries as President Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Ford; and Marie Daly, the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry, and an early innovator in the study of heart disease.

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Smarter Balanced States Approve Achievement Level Recommendations

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Smarter Balanced members voted to approve the initial achievement levels for the math and English assessments that will be administered in 17 states and one territory this school year. The achievement levels help provide a more accurate picture of individual student performance, and the vote marks an incredibly important milestone in the development of the Smarter Balanced Assessment System.

Achievement Level Setting was an inclusive, collaborative process that involved an unprecedented level of educator and public input. More than 2,500 educators, parents, and other interested stakeholders provided input during the Online Panel. Their recommendations were shared at In-Person workshops in Dallas with nearly 500 teachers, school leaders, higher education faculty, parents, community leaders, and other stakeholders. Participants reviewed test questions and determined threshold scores for four achievement levels for each grade in both subjects. In addition, a cross-grade review committee comprised of 72 members took results from both the Online Panel and In-Person workshops into consideration as they developed recommendations aligned across grades to reflect student progress from year to year.

It’s important to remember that achievement levels are a starting point for discussion about the performance of individual students and groups of students. In addition to achievement levels, there are other ways to evaluate academic progress of students and schools. Smarter Balanced states unanimously approved a position paper that provides guidelines for how scores and achievement levels can be used and interpreted.

We know that new content standards set higher expectations for students. That’s why the new assessments are designed to evaluate student performance against those higher standards. It is therefore not surprising that we may see a decline in student scores this year. However, over time the performance of students will improve.

In the coming months, Smarter Balanced states will present the approved achievement level recommendations to policymaking entities that have the authority to formally adopt achievement levels in each state.This authority typically rests with the state board of education.

To learn more about the Achievement Level Setting process, visit the Achievement Levels page.

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Race to the Top – Integrity and Transparency Drive the Process

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On January 19th, 40 states and the District of Columbia submitted applications to the Department of Education to compete in our Race to the Top grant program. Because this historic $4 billion program is unlike anything we have ever done, we enhanced our discretionary grant process to ensure maximum integrity and transparency.

Here’s how the process works.

As with any federal program, Congress spells out the overall goals, but the Department establishes regulations and guidance. We developed a competitive system for applicants showing exactly how many points each applicant will receive for every measure of progress a state has achieved, every reform implemented, and every commitment made. For example, states get five points for identifying their lowest-achieving schools and 35 points for turning them around.

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Smarter Balanced States Approve Achievement Level Recommendations

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Members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have voted to approve initial achievement levels for the mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) assessments that will be administered in 17 states and one territory this school year. The vote marks an important milestone in the development of the assessment system. READ THE PRESS RELEASE

LEARN MORE ABOUT ACHIEVEMENT LEVELS

Smarter Balanced Hires Deputy Executive Director

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Smarter Balanced) has appointed Luci Willits as its deputy executive director. Willits joins the state-led consortium December 8. As deputy executive director, Willits will focus on strategy and state services, overseeing communications, policy, and partnerships with higher education. LEARN MORE

Field Test Report Now Available

A report on the Smarter Balanced Field Test is now available. This report presents results from state surveys given to students and adults in 13 Smarter Balanced member states. The Field Test or “test of the test” was administered in the spring of 2014 to more than 4.2 million students across the Consortium, and provided teachers and schools an opportunity to gauge their readiness in advance of the operational assessments in spring 2015. LEARN MORE

New Resources Available on the Support for Under-Represented Students Page

To prepare states across the Consortium for successful implementation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment System, a variety of updates have been made to the Support for Under-Represented Students page. Updated versions of the Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations Guidelines, Accessibility and Accommodations Factsheet, and Usability, Accessibility, and Accommodations FAQs are now available.

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Google Apps for Education: Deployment Guide

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Steps to transition your medium-sized business, educational institution, or government agency to Google Apps. Includes topics such as email configuration, account provisioning, data migration, mobile device management, and more.

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Best High Schools

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The 2015 U.S. News Best High Schools rankings, released today, feature information on more than 19,000 eligible schools. High school performance has been under the spotlight recently, as the Obama administration announced awards earlier this month totaling more than $100 million to help schools prepare students for in-demand careers in fields including health care, technology and engineering.

The data show that receiving a gold medal is truly a rarity among the public high schools that U.S. News evaluated for this ranking. Only 2.8 percent of eligible schools ​received a gold medal. That number represents the top 500 schools and is calculated using a combination of state assessments and college readiness scores. Silver medals were awarded to just 8.6 percent of eligible schools.

The School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas ​excelled, earning a gold medal along with top honors in the overall national rankings as well as the Best Magnet Schools rankings. ​

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