The Educational Attainment Needle

The following story is from Executive Director Derran Wimer’s message in the November 2016 edition of “Align & Engage.”

It seems like that darn needle always needs to be moved! The needle I am most familiar with is very stubborn. It never moves in the right direction and it very easily moves in the wrong direction. I’m betting some of you have that same needle. The dreaded bathroom scale needle.

Bathroom Scale and Tape MeasureIt takes no effort at all to move it in the wrong direction, but a great deal of effort to move it where I want it. In fact, I often need help from my family and my coworkers to keep moving the needle in the right direction. I also need to not shy away from the details about food calories and exercise payoff. I have a fancy watch which tells me, when I wear it, more details than I care to know. Lots of data… but the needle only moves in the right direction with focused effort and help.

The same seems to be true with our education needle. We don’t have to do anything for the needle to move the wrong way. That’s actually the best way for the needle to go the wrong way: don’t do anything! But if we want the educational attainment needle to move in the right direction, it takes work. It takes collective, purposeful, aligned, steady and consistent work. It means setting a goal, say 48,000 degrees by 2025, and then getting down to the difficult and hard business of helping our students be successful. It means not shying away from the details, even though they can make us feel uncomfortable, like when we look at student achievement through the lens of equity.

As a community of committed individuals and organizations who value a thriving and prosperous future, we must do the hard work, using uncomfortable data, to make meaningful strides in moving the needle. We took two big steps forward over the last few weeks, thanks to your support and presence. Read more about them here

I encourage you to stay engaged with our work and our partners’ work through the end of this year and into 2017. Whether you serve one of our strategy teams, apply to serve Leadership Akron’s Civic Solutions Lab or sign-up to mentor an Akron Public Schools student via iCARE Mentoring, you are making a difference in the future of our kids.