Stakeholder Update

Dear Stakeholder:

When our team at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education turned the page to start 2017, we were committed to continuing and expanding our focus on issues of equity and closing persistent achievement gaps that our state faces. Our goal has always been to do everything we can to make Georgia a top performing state where all children have the same access to high quality education.

Always driven by a spirit of continuous improvement and a desire to lead in innovative and evidence-based education policy reform, the Georgia Partnership continues to accept the challenges that vision presents. We are always proud of our work and the resulting outcomes but we are especially excited about our 2017 record.

Following is a brief recap of the past year.  You will first see several new bodies of work followed by a brief look at our traditional successful programs that have served us well through the years. This truly is a team effort and we consider you a part of our continuing success and winning spirit.  Simply put, we can’t do what we do without you.  2017 was another good year.  2018 is calling us.


Steve Dolinger

EdQuest Georgia: Charting Education Reform
This groundbreaking work first started in 2015 and came to fruition in 2017. EdQuest Georgia is a new policy framework for education based on extensive research into best practices of high performing states and countries.  The purpose of this program is to provide education stakeholders across the state – and beyond our borders – with a clear look at how the many moving parts of our education system fit together and reinforce each other.

EdQuest analyzes where we are strong and areas we feel need to be addressed to move Georgia forward. Focusing on seven key core policy areas, the report serves as an education blueprint for success.  Formally released at our November Critical Issues Forum, EdQuest has already been well received and quoted.   We anticipate this body of work will be used by education, business, government and civic leaders well into the future.  Details:

STEAM Asset Map
This EdQuest-related work provides an invaluable resource for audiences interested in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics program availability in Georgia. Through an interactive map, users find multiple layers of information that show what and where STEAM programs are offered and where investments in these fields are lacking.
The STEAM Asset Map is a unique tool for investors, advocates, parents, teachers and students.  Details:

Inventory of Assessments
Over the past several years there has been a “spirited discussion” on the amount and value of testing conducted in our schools.  The Georgia Partnership, in consultation with the GaDOE, developed this pilot project that provides tools and materials designed to allow local school districts to conduct their own assessment inventories.

Working with five representative school districts (Barrow, Bulloch, Douglas, Pulaski, and Richmond), the overarching goal was to provide critical information that could be incorporated in strategic plans that support teachers and allow them to improve instruction.  The outcomes of this work exceeded our expectations and have not only caught the attention of various education groups but are also being embedded into a broader GaDOE assessment initiative. Details:

Strategic Partnerships 
The plight of rural communities, especially in the quality of education, took center stage in 2017 and the Georgia Partnership quickly added its voice and influence to the discussion.  The Partnership has started capturing thoughtful input into solutions to local communities’ and the state’s most challenging issues impacting student outcomes.  Although this project is still in its infancy, progress has already been realized in building strategic partnerships across Georgia.

Community College Access Mini-grants
This program focused on promoting college to students traditionally underserved by higher education and is part of the Georgia Partnership’s ongoing strategic partnership building efforts across the state. Six “mini-grants” were provided to local chambers of commerce that enabled them to sponsor career days, campus tours, and a speaker series that emphasized the importance of post-secondary training and education.  We expect to double this successful program in 2018.

Equity in Education in the Southeast Initiative
The Georgia Partnership continued leading the Columbia Group, a network of seven state-based organizations in the Southeast that work to improve education. The drive in 2017 was directed toward a commitment by the members to jointly heighten awareness of equity and achievement gap issues. The initiative included commissioning the first Education Poll of the South and will culminate with a landmark report in early 2018 that will provide policymakers and other stakeholders with a clearer understanding of the most prominent issues related to education equity and solutions for addressing those issues.

Solutions Summit   
The state’s underperforming schools need assistance and the Georgia Partnership helped carry that message to leaders representing a diverse group of education stakeholders.  Teaming with the GaDOE, the Partnership co-sponsored this one-day event to identify and address challenges faced by chronically failing schools. Participants were invited to help develop a shared framework that can guide future strategies.

Tried and True Georgia Partnership Programs and Products
Besides the many new and innovative ventures, the Partnership continued to present time-tested signature programs:

Better Standards for a Better Georgia Coalition – The Georgia Partnership continued to lead the 20+ organizations that speak with one effective education policy reform voice. In 2017, on behalf of the Coalition, we tendered an official letter addressed to the governor, state Board of Education, and the GaDOE citing both concerns and reinforcing strengths found in Georgia’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan. The Partnership also conducted several briefings with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and presented a webinar looking at ESSA and the opportunities it affords our state. The Coalition provides policy and decision makers a trusted and uniquely invaluable resource:

Critical Issues Forums – Three Forums were held, each one looking at key topical issues: Arts Learning and the Innovation Workforce; Closing Georgia’s Talent Gap; and EdQuest Georgia: Charting Educational Reform:

Economics of Education – This program that began 14 years ago continues to inform audiences across the state.  Twenty-four tailored briefings were given but equally important was the fielding of the fifth edition of the Economics of Education booklet in a streamlined, easy to read and understand format.  The program is a featured presentation at the Georgia Academy for Economic Development and a 3-hour course for the Georgia Municipal Assn. Annual Convention:

Education Policy Fellowship Program – The Partnership ushered in the 9th cohort of 20 rising leaders for the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) after celebrating the graduation of Class #8. This program continues to build the education policy capacity across the state. Many EPFP alums are already serving in a variety of influential positions where they use what they learned:

Media Symposium – This event always leads the Partnership into the new year with a bang.  Presented the first week of January, the 11th annual Symposium brought more than 30 education reporters/editors together for a day-long look at critical issues facing the state, all presented by subject matter experts and newsmakers:

Top Ten Issues to Watch – The 13th edition met with favorable reviews from all education-stakeholder groups and continued to be used as a trusted source and resource from the state legislature to the classroom and even by parents in their homes. More than 4,500 copies were distributed:

Communications – The glue that continues to bind our work is our effective story-telling ability.  In 2017, the Georgia School Public Relations Association recognized the Partnership with two gold awards for excellence, the Top Ten Issues to Watch report and Media Symposium.  These honors are indicative of our overall communications plan: