ATLANTA – April 18, 2017 – Today civic, business and education leaders from across metro Atlanta launched, Learn4Life, an organization to align educational efforts and resources to ensure success for every child across five counties and eight school districts in the region.
“Throughout metro Atlanta, the idea of regionalism is taking hold. Our business, philanthropic and educational leaders seek regional, proven solutions to improve education for all of our students,” said Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO, Metro Atlanta Chamber. “Learn4Life represents a new data-based approach driven by the engagement of the region’s leaders in business, community and education. This effort focuses our work on important achievement measures, and it leverages the best talent and resources within each of the anchor organizations, school districts and other partners to address the factors that influence those measures.”
Learn4Life is being launched in response to the sobering statistics around education in the region:
- Only 40 percent of third graders in metro Atlanta are reading at grade level each year. The other 60 percent, roughly 28,000 third graders, are not.
- Of our low income students, only about 25 percent are reading at grade level in third grade.
- Research is clear that children who have not developed reading skills by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.
- 31 percent of the eight school districts’ high school graduates go on to complete some type of post-secondary education, nowhere near the number needed to address the region’s needs. By the year 2025, more than 60 percent of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education such as a certification or degree.
Learn4Life’s executive director, Kenneth Zeff, provided these key findings in the “State of Education in Metro Atlanta Baseline Report.” This report serves as a call to action to each stakeholder in the region to come together to support strategies and bright spots that have been proven to address the root causes of academic underperformance. With a clear understanding of the root causes, the collective effort to address them now begins.
Learn4Life is a collaborative effort of the Metro Atlanta Regional Education Partnership, bringing together school systems, local communities, businesses and nonprofits to improve education outcomes based on common goals and shared benchmarks. The result will be an improved Atlanta workforce, using a data-driven, collective impact approach to student achievement.
Four anchor civic institutions were the genesis of Learn4Life: Atlanta Regional Commission, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Metro Atlanta Chamber and United Way of Greater Atlanta. Learn4Life is governed by a larger Leadership Council, which is a diverse group of senior executives who guide the work and bring together stakeholders throughout the region including higher education presidents, corporate CEOs and leading community-based organizations.
Eight participating school superintendents across the five county region are at the nexus of this program. Designed to serve over 600,000 students among all eight participating school districts (Atlanta Public Schools, City Schools of Decatur, Clayton County Schools, Cobb County Schools, DeKalb County Schools, Fulton County Schools, Gwinnett County Schools and Marietta City Schools). Zeff’s guidance of L4L is backed by experience in several roles at Fulton County Schools including Superintendent and Chief Strategy Officer.
Research has identified six community-level indicators to measure achievement in the region’s schools. These points along the education continuum are the keys to achieving a cradle-to-career vision of success for every child:
- kindergarten readiness,
- third grade reading proficiency,
- eighth grade math proficiency,
- high school graduation,
- post-secondary enrollment, and
- post-secondary attainment.
Leaders of the eight school districts have met extensively with community leaders to lay the groundwork for this partnership. They have identified early grade literacy as an important starting point for the collaboration. In the coming months, action teams will build out strategies for business and community leaders to champion and support to address persistent challenges to student performance.
“We are finding programs with positive measurable results across metro Atlanta,” commented Dennis Lockhart, retired president and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. “Now, Learn4Life can help scale those practices where they are needed from north Gwinnett to south Clayton. This initiative will set the bar high and drive the positive change our region’s future deserves.”
“The daunting scale of the region was something no single organization could tackle from their vantage point,” commented Alicia Philipp, president, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. “But together, we could see a horizon for positive change firmly grounded in quantitative and qualitative strategies. It’s going to take all of us working together, but we can do this and build a model of collaboration and progress.”
Learn4Life (L4L) is the Metro Atlanta Regional Education Partnership, a collaborative effort that brings together school systems, local communities, business and nonprofits to improve education outcomes based on common goals and shared indicators of progress. Our overall goal is to improve workforce readiness and student achievement using a data-driven, collective impact approach. Learn more at L4LMetroAtlanta.org.
Ken Zeff, 404.333.0105