To increase student achievement through comprehensive school improvement, a broad strategy that aligns a research-based classroom instructional plan with the policies and practices of states and districts, curriculum and instruction, professional development, accountability and evaluation, resource allocation, and community engagement. The comprehensive view does not mean that any one educator or education provider meets the needs of every student or school, but that together they embrace an overarching vision and develop relationships with others who share this vision.
In 1991, New American Schools (NAS) began investing in specific approaches, later known as designs, to help turn around low-performing schools. The idea behind this concept was to launch comprehensive approaches to improve student performance by applying the best research available on what works in the classrooms in as many schools as possible throughout the country. Through a national competition, NAS selected eleven of the best research-based ideas in the country. With the support of both private and public partners, NAS invested more than $130 million in these efforts and others. In the late 1990s, NAS began funding the design teams with loans rather than grants and created the Education Entrepreneurs Fund for this purpose. Today these designs are working in every state in the United States in almost 4,000 schools.
The Education Entrepreneurs Fund helps providers and other "education entrepreneurs" launch promising ideas or small-scale classroom techniques and tools into products, programs, and services that can be widely used in school settings. Through its School Funding Services, the Fund assists both providers and educators by offering online information about funding sources to help educators pay for these services.
NAS's Education Performance Network offers an integrated set of State and District Services and New School Services through strong internal capacity and best-in-class partners. Both of these services include four components: (1) needs assessment, (2) strategic planning, (3) implementation assistance, and (4) quality assurance and feedback.
To encourage an open dialogue about what is working and not working, NAS operates its own in-house, research and development arm called the Center for Evidence-Based Education. In addition to applied research and development on school improvement strategies, the Center also supports the development of successful leaders for quality reform. To help schools initiate reform, NAS developed Guidelines of Quality (34 pages, PDF), a report available on the NAS Web site that helps schools and school systems make decisions about which designs are best for their schools.
NAS recently launched an online funding service designed specifically for educators and administrators. School Funding Services helps educators identify and access billions of federal, state, and private dollars that are available for education improvement programs. Through a subscription to an interactive database of grant opportunities, up-to-date reports, and customized research, SFS allows educators to find funding opportunities quickly and precisely so they can concentrate on implementing the reform.
The NAS Web site provides information about the organization and its history, mission, and various programs. It also provides links to NAS's main programs, such as the Education Entrepreneurs Fund and the Education Performance Network. The How We Can Help section is a good starting point for anyone new to the NAS site because it includes specific information for several groups, including school district representatives, school administrators, teachers, parents, and policymakers.
NAS has received support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Goldman Sachs Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Prudential Insurance Company of America, and the United Parcel Service Foundation.