Archive for the ‘Horizontal and Vertical Grids’ Category

The Forum for Youth Investment’s vision that all children and youth are ready for college, work and life, has been further refined in their Ready by 21® campaign. By calling on all states and communities to change the odds for children and youth by changing the way we do business, the campaign provides a Big Picture Approach  which includes a thoughtful outline of core principles and common language.

Executive Director, Karen Pittman, in her December 2008 Youth Today column defends the assertion that all young people should be ready for college and doesn’t stop there. She also urges programs and services stay with young people to ensure they are credentialed by 26 (academic or technical). She pushes back against common criticisms of readying all children for college and cites to a Center for American Progress report on the labor market and the agenda of Corporate Voices for Working Families for support.  Check out her column for more.

And while you are at it – check out the Forum’s Home page. Their opening graphic is worth a look in and of itself.


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Ah, to live in D.C. & be able to attend events like the Brookings gig Diama writes about, below. (And yes, this could technically be a Comment, but then it’d be buried & relegated to the place where only Micah & Diama venture….) Since we’re NOT in D.C., we need to listen in on webinars & do a lot of reading. What I’m reading right now is a book called “Whatever it Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America” by Paul Tough. I’m only about halfway through, but it’s pretty clear that Canada’s particular poverty reduction strategy involves building an extremely dense safety net of services to support children even before they’re born and as they age, in addition to supporting their parents. It’s very similar to the strategy Tulsa Initiative envisions, although Canada has build his net in a defined geographic area which is called the Harlem Children’s Zone. This means he wants to capture everyone in the Zone. Our work, in contrast, will focus (at least initially) on children (and their families) that enroll in CAP’s early childhood programs. Each strategy brings a different degree of difficulty and implies a different likelihood of success. The big takeaway from the book for me at this point, however, is the enormity of the task and the layers of challenges that stand before us.

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So our research team met this morning to discuss some data that Cindy, our program evaluator, has been analyzing. One critical question is “how do we measure our children’s likelihood of growing up to achieve economic self-sufficiency?” We know there are lots of imperfect predictors for graduating from high school (or dropping out) as well as lots of intermediate predictors that take the form of: success in X in 3rd grade leads to success in Y in 6th grade. Well I run across these occasionally so I thought this would be as good a place as any to store them.

Early Ed Watch has a post up discussing a Brookings report on the use of 8th grade algebra in high-poverty schools. Apparently, some schools are placing more (or even all) of their kids in 8th grade algebra classes, even if they have only a second grade math level. That can bring down the performance of all the kids in those classes. So how do you really prepare kids for 8th grade algebra? You make them proficient in “whole number operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) by 4th grade.”

By aligning pre-K programs with elementary curricula, we can help get more of those kids up to speed and more of them graduating high school. Slide 47 on this power point shows that the difference in 7th Grade math grades is the 7th largest gap between high school graduates and drop outs. The previous slide finds that differences in math between graduates and dropouts are statistically significant even in kindergarten. (Wish the slides were better sourced, but they are not.)

So how can we measure “whole number operations” in 4th grade? Is that what the state standardized tests are looking for?

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Welcome to the second installment of welcome week. We’ll be here introducing the Tulsa Initiative team throughout the week and sharing our goals for this blog. My piece is about my research role for TI, so let’s dive in.

When I tell friends and old classmates that I’m a researcher at a local anti-poverty agency, I am given a look that says “Ok? Go on.” I find this a bit unfair (when’s the last time you made your accountant friend explain her job to you?), but the short response is that I do a lot of the same things that our preschoolers are learning to do: I read, write, count, and occasionally color.

But let me be more specific.

TI is committed to developing research- and evidence-based programs that go above and beyond the extremely high-quality early childhood interventions already offered by CAP, and we want to do that by immersing ourselves in new ideas: both from the academic and thinktank world, but also from the community itself. So my role contains both those parts. The “reading” part of my job is to stay current on research, analysis, and evaluations surrounding the Initiative’s (and CAP’s) lines of business. Currently that means trying to tackle early childhood education, workforce development, family financial stability and economic success, parenting skills and involvement, the K-12 system, access to healthcare, organizational innovations, social networking and media, as well as the world of anti-poverty programs and policies in general. So not much really.

When I’m not reading, I play a role as TI’s representative at certain community collaborations (Community Workforce Partners for a time, and most recently the Youth Services roundtable at the Mayor’s office), conduct what I call “lite” data analysis, assist our Acting Director of Program Evaluation (Cindy Decker), conduct certain areas of TI’s strategic planning, lead a working group on tenant turnover at Brightwaters, and learn (i.e. play with) new softwares and technologies. Oh and I blog now.

The hard part of my job is sharing this information overload throughout our agency and with the community. CAP is really fortunate to be able to staff a position like mine (in fact, it staffs 2 of us!), but it doesn’t do anyone any good if I learn a whole lot of stuff that never leaves my brain. Frankly, my experience so far has been that that happens a little too much. So this blog is one channel for sharing lots of the things I’m reading, seeing, hearing, and thinking. But I thrive on other people’s thoughts (that’s part of the reason I enjoy this job!), so I need other people to find this forum just as valuable as I do. I need your thoughts, no matter how half-baked (as are many of mine) and I need them often!

So comment on this post and let me know what you want to see and what kind of research you’re interested in. And if you ever see a really great article that you want to share with others – but you don’t just know how – come here and add a comment to a post, or email me at mkordsmeier at captc dot org and I’ll let you write your own guest post.

Oh and in case you were wondering, I’m a 2007 graduate of the University of Tulsa, where I earned a BA in economics and political science (with a side of Spanish and a dash of international studies). Someday I’ll go to grad school where I can pay others to let me do what I do here, but for now I’m happy taking pay to do research from the cozy confines of my CAP cubicle. (Did I mention I’m fond of alliteration?)

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I attended a Youth Services Roundtable today, hosted by the Mayor’s Office and organized by Monroe Nichols (who was kind enough to make sure everyone knew we were classmates at TU). A presenter from Arbor Education & Training (for-profit contractor for workforce and youth programs, among other things) discussed his collaboration in New York City on a project to coordinate youth programs at a youth “one-stop” called The Door.

Following the presentation, the group did a pretty typical exercise: asset mapping of our respective agencies and the community, identified service gaps in the community, and talked a bit about what to do next vis a vis prioritization and working groups.

CAP was surprisingly oft-discussed by the other participants. (This surprised me since we don’t really do a lot of “youth” programs, with the possible exceptions of OHLAP and early childhood for children of teen moms.) I heard lots of comments about how critical they feel early childhood is to their work, and they identified CAP as a community asset. (For my part, I offered that CAP could provide the assets of physical space – in our sites – and access to knowledge – through our many collaborations with Harvard, etc.) Basically, youth service providers could be more far more successful given children who went through a high quality early childhood program and whose parents learned at an early age to get involved.

Promisingly, that idea lines up really well with our concepts of the vertical and horizontal grids. These agencies are talking about the vertical grid when they say that they are concerned about where they are receiving their kids from, and where they are sending those kids off to. We just happen to be at the base of that “grid” with our early childhood programs. And when participants talk about the array of services youth come into contact with, they are talking about what we at TI call the horizontal grid. (I made sure to point this out.) I say this is promising because it means that potential partners out there in Tulsa are actively worrying about the same concepts that we are, they just haven’t named them. These groups, then, are latent participants in the Tulsa Initiative – we just have to show it to them.

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