The Rodel Foundation of Delaware works in partnership with policymakers, researchers, and educators on the ground to make policy changes that have a significant impact on student achievement, like raising academic standards, using timely data to make decisions, recruiting and supporting great teachers and leaders, and investing in our youngest learners. Below are some examples of our current work:
Great Teachers and Leaders in Every School
Great school teachers and leaders are at the core of a world-class education; they are the most impactful in-school factor leading to students’ success. Rodel has supported the state in learning from the highest-performing school systems in the world and their intense focus on teacher recruitment and training. We have supported changes in alternative teacher certification that expanded access to national providers with promising results, such as Teach For America and the Delaware Leadership Project. Rodel also served as a partner in strengthening DPAS-II, the state teacher evaluation system that is designed to provide educators with meaningful feedback and require teachers to demonstrate their student academic growth based on multiple measures, as well as legislation that requires student academic growth.
The common school model –a teacher in front of the classroom with students at desks—has been used since the Industrial Revolution. Building on strong instructional practices like data-driven decision making and differentiation, personalized learning offers an opportunity to redesign our learning environments so that individual students are at the center. Rodel supports schools that are piloting cutting-edge, student-focused strategies. In addition to providing stakeholders with information on best practices, we are working to support school districts throughout the state to increase personalized learning opportunities, train teachers, and create “model classrooms” where teachers can see this work being implemented in real time. The Rodel Teacher Council is focused on personalized learning and produced the Blueprint for Personalized Learning in Delaware.
The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. Released in June 2010 by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Common Core Standards are a shared set of grade-level expectations for students in English Language Arts and mathematics (social studies and science are to be subsequently released). These ground-breaking, universal standards hold students to the same rigorous academic expectations of their peers in top-performing countries.
The research on early learning is clear: all Delawareans reap short- and long-term benefits when our youngest citizens receive a high-quality early education. Early childhood development is economic development. Children who participate in an early childhood education program are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college or job training, and have higher earnings. In addition to supporting Vision Coalition, which recommends greater investment in early learners, Rodel also worked with public, private, and civic leaders to generate additional state investments and create a winning Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge application, which infused the system with $49M. We supported the creation of the Office of Early Learning, which leads the state’s early childhood efforts, and we continue to support the creation of kindergarten readiness teams; promote the state’s kindergarten readiness survey; as well as endorse the STARS quality improvement rating system so parents can make informed decisions about placing their children into early childhood centers.