A significant community resource provides studies and reports that advance our knowledge of the importance of public education to our community. A major resource free on the internet is available through the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta.
Over many years, I have found SREB materials to be most helpful to me in my role as a member of the Gwinnett County Board of Education. I have long been familiar with the work of SREB, having the privilege of working as a staff member of the organization early in my career during the leadership era of Dr. Winfred Godwin, President of SREB.
Southern Regional Education Board is a veritable think tank of legislative, educational, policy, and statistical studies of K-12 and higher education in the compact of more than 14 states included in the Southern region of the U.S. Georgia is one of the key SREB states, with its headquarters being located adjacent to the Georgia Tech campus on 10th Street.
For some excellent reading, SREB provides online materials in its Challenge to Lead
Education Goal Series: Access to the series is available on the SREB website. A select list of the goals of the series, with publications describing SREB states’ progress toward them, follows:
1. Ready to Start: Ensuring High-Quality Prekindergarten in SREB States.
SREB states are national leaders in providing state-funded prekindergarten for 4-year olds. This report review SREB states’ progress in improving prekindergarten access and calls for a greater focus on quality, funding, teacher training, and other actions to help all children get ready for school, including those in poverty or from low-income or English-as-a-second-language families.
2. Set for Success: Improving Reading and Mathematics Achievement in the Early Grades.
This report documents the continued progress of SREB states in preparing early grades students for success in the middle grades—and beyond. It analyzes scores on state assessments and the National Assessments of Education Progress and discusses what states are doing to improve early grades reading instruction, including the federally funded Reading First program. It also presents intervention policies in SREB states and effective ways to meet the needs of students not yet achieving at grade level.
3. Getting Serious About High School Graduation.
This report documents that graduation rates are low—especially for minority students and males—and that rates have declined since the 1980s. Additionally, too few young adults who need them receive alternative credentials, such as the GED. The report explains how graduation rates are calculated and offers promising practices for increasing them by improving accountability systems, focusing on the ninth grade, reforming high schools, and developing media campaigns to promote graduation.
4. Getting Students Ready for College and Careers.
As a companion to Getting Serious About High School Graduation, this report asserts that SREB states need to ensure that all graduates are ready for further education and the workplace. It concludes that all students should take an essential core of courses traditionally prescribed only for college-bound students, including four years of mathematics, including Algebra II. The report describes where SREB states stand on graduation requirements, college admission exams, achievement gaps, and advanced course-taking, and it offers strategies to help states improve readiness rates and reduce the need for remediation in college.
5. Creating College Opportunity for All: Prepared Students and Affordable Colleges.
SREB’s Challenge to Lead goals call on states to ensure that many more youth—particularly from minority groups and low-income families—prepare for, enroll in, and graduate from college. This means that college must be affordable for all students. This report examines the current affordability gap and what steps could make college a possibility for more young people. It focuses on the need for state-funded financial assistance and ways that states can help prepare a new generation of residents for the future.
6. Charter Schools in SREB States: A Call for Accountability.
Charter schools present an opportunity for innovation in education, but they should not be provided flexibility without being held accountable for educational results. They must be effective and help all students make progress in improving academic performance. Despite mixed results in charter school student performance, many charter schools are showing encouraging signs that effective state-level policies can help establish high-quality charter schools and hold them accountable for their performance. Ultimately, states that choose to take on the opportunity—and the challenge—of charter schools must ensure that charter schools serve one goal: helping educate all students they enroll.