Prior to 2010, E3 Alliance research indicated that almost half of Central Texas children were entering kindergarten unprepared, setting them up to fall behind, and in many cases, drop out as their education journey unfolded. With their success at risk, and the economic cost to our community in jeopardy, E3 Alliance led the creation of Ready, Set, K!, the first student-centered, multi-competency standard for school readiness in Texas. Ready, Set, K! provides training and an online tool to help teachers better determine whether their students are on track for school success. Results have shown that Ready, Set, K! is highly predictive of later success: children rated “kindergarten ready” with this assessment are nearly four times more likely to pass the 3rd grade STAAR Reading and Math assessments in third grade than compared to their peers who are not rated kindergarten ready. The tool empowers teachers to gather more accurate student data through authentic assessment, group children for differentiated instruction, and align their teaching with the pre-K guidelines. Ready, Set, K! has helped close the school readiness gap, while shaping legislation and guiding budget decision to support young learners.
In partnership with Attendance Works, E3 Alliance launched an Attendance Peer Learning Network of nine schools. Participating schools receive the opportunity to increase student attendance – and consequently, academic outcomes – through the use of disaggregated data, peer-to-peer learning, coaching, and technical assistance using evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies and continuous improvement tools. Teams chose one student outcome (e.g., reading, math, high school graduation, or college readiness) to focus on based on local needs and drivers. All school teams in the Attendance Peer Learning Network used a common strategy (attendance) to improve student outcomes. Schools are chosen through an application process.
E3 Alliance serves as the data partner for the regional My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative. E3 provides in-depth data analysis and community facilitation to support the Greater Austin Area My Brother’s Keeper effort to eliminate equity gaps for our young men of color. In addition, E3 designed and supports the MBK Scholars College Challenge to help many more low-income young men of color access and succeed in higher education. Four area high schools have been linked with service providers to improve college success in 2018-19, and the initiative will expand to more schools starting in 2019-20. E3 facilitates a cross-pollination of learning and direct-service collaboration with the MBK scholars and staff and Education Outreach Specialists from Workforce Solutions, who are tasked with connecting students to career pathways out of high school.
In 2011, E3 Alliance launched a Missing School Matters campaign to promote a culture of student attendance in our region. The campaign focused on a “triple bottom line:” 1) students need to be in the classroom to learn, 2) teachers need consistency of attendance to effectively teach, and 3) school districts need state funding (which in Texas is based on attendance) to provide precious resources and services to all students. This concerted effort helped school districts to see $37.5 million dollars returned to the region in state reimbursement due to decreased student absences despite rapidly increasing student enrollment.
Fast forward to the year 2020 and a school year like no other in our history. The pandemic made it clear that educators must look to a new future that redefines what it means to attend school. A new attendance campaign launched in 2021 called Attend. Commit. Engage or ACE. A partnership between schools and families, ACE allows students to:
Attend by being present for remote or on-campus learning with a feeling of wellness, safety, and belonging
Commit by showing dedication to learning with a feeling of connection to what is being taught
Engage by displaying academic progress with a feeling of confidence and accomplishment
ACE encompasses resources for schools and families housed online at ace.e3alliance.org. The ACE Task Force is comprised of educators and practitioners committed to improving attendance in the Central Texas region through this fortified partnership between schools and families.