Teaching and Learning Work Group
Despite many efforts to improve education across the South, the following remains true: persistently low levels of achievement for certain groups of students -- low income, language minorities, special education; school suspension rates that disproportionately impact these same student groups, high school dropout rates well above the national averages and disappointing college completion rates for students of color and students who are economically disadvantaged. Inadequate resources contribute greatly to these problems as do documented disparities in the distribution of funding and what these funds provide -- quality teachers, instructional supports and supplement learning time. It is evident that in addition to addressing these resource disparities, our children deserve much more effective learning opportunities than they receive today. This means increasing instructional rigor across subjects. In the new diverse South, it means making more effective connections between language and learning. And it means identifying new discipline strategies for schools and districts.
SEF's Teaching and Learning Workgroup will review the knowledge base on improving academic achievement to identify promising and exemplary practices in key areas -- reading, language arts, science and mathematics. The group will look explicitly into how the arts are effectively integrated into learning opportunities. It will examine and report on strategies for English language learners. And it will explore the role of assessment in improving instruction. Advancing ideas and strategies that improve outcomes for low income students and students of color is a primary goal for this workgroup.