Results Count Realizes Gains in Reading and Math Proficiency

Updated on September 13, 2019, and originally posted July 4, 2019, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Improving reading and math proficiency for children

In one Min­neapo­lis neigh­bor­hood, kids have made sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments in math and read­ing — all thanks to a long-term effort by the North­side Achieve­ment Zone (NAZ) and an array of gov­ern­ment, non­prof­it and civic partners.

As a Promise Neigh­bor­hoods grant recip­i­ent, NAZ began par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Results Count™ pro­gram, which is designed to devel­op results-dri­ven lead­ers in the social sec­tor. The orga­ni­za­tion cred­its this pro­gram with trans­form­ing its cul­ture and sys­tems to achieve bet­ter out­comes for kids liv­ing in a 250-block neigh­bor­hood in North Minneapolis.

NAZ and its part­ners first engaged with Results Count by set­ting tar­gets to close achieve­ment gaps in three areas:

  1. kinder­garten readiness;
  2. aca­d­e­m­ic suc­cess; and
  3. sup­port for low-income families.

By teach­ing lead­ers to use results to dri­ve action — and not the oth­er way around — the pro­gram fun­da­men­tal­ly shift­ed how NAZ works.

We spent five years in a race to cre­ate and exe­cute what we called solu­tion plans — con­crete plans to build, build, build,” says Michelle Palo, NAZ’s senior direc­tor of col­lab­o­ra­tive learning.

But were those plans effective?

The Results Count pro­gram helped NAZ’s staff and ser­vice-deliv­ery part­ners assess whether their actions were gen­er­at­ing results for local fam­i­lies. And, two years since com­plet­ing their Results Count sem­i­nars, the answer to this ques­tion is a resound­ing yes.

Today, the col­lab­o­ra­tive is see­ing some sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant — and sat­is­fy­ing — results. For instance:

  • African-Amer­i­can NAZ schol­ars were more like­ly to be pro­fi­cient in read­ing com­pared to oth­er north­side class­mates (25% ver­sus 18%). This improve­ment moved the NAZ schol­ars clos­er to the statewide aver­age (34%).
  • African-Amer­i­can NAZ schol­ars were also more pro­fi­cient in math (26% ver­sus 12%) and again moved clos­er to the statewide aver­age (29%).

Those these gains are encour­ag­ing, Son­dra Samuels, CEO and pres­i­dent of NAZ, cites a Barack Oba­ma quote for per­spec­tive: We have to acknowl­edge the progress we made but under­stand that we still have a long way to go. That things are bet­ter, but still not good enough.”

While par­tic­i­pat­ing in Results Count, NAZ lead­ers worked on build­ing the skills, behav­iors and rela­tion­ships need­ed to move their orga­ni­za­tion and their part­ners toward their iden­ti­fied tar­gets. These lead­ers strength­ened the col­lab­o­ra­tive process, clar­i­fied their roles and mod­i­fied the solu­tion plans to become results plans. We’ve worked hard to put the right scaf­fold­ing in place to accom­plish our com­mon goals,” says Palo. Results Count gave us tools for sup­port­ing one anoth­er, shar­ing respon­si­bil­i­ties and empow­er­ing the next set of lead­ers with a clear vision for the road ahead.”

Relat­ed Promise Neigh­bor­hoods Resources

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