Educational Testing Service

April 15, 2011 13:54 ET

Community Education Summit Addresses Implications of Common Core Standards, School Reform on Children of Color

PRINCETON, NJ--(Marketwire - Apr 15, 2011) - The Urban League of Middle Tennessee is holding a three-day summit that will gather education experts, parents, school administrators, church and community leaders, and others to discuss the movement toward Common Core Standards and school reform in Tennessee. The focus in particular is on underperforming students, parental engagement, and identifying the resources needed to eliminate barriers and support academic success.

The summit is sponsored in part by Educational Testing Service (ETS), in connection with its partnership with the National Urban League (NUL) and the Equity and Excellence project -- a two-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that involves NUL affiliates in Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

The summit began Thursday with a dinner and presentation by Michael T. Nettles, Senior Vice President and Edmund W. Gordon Chair of ETS's Policy Evaluation and Research Center. Nettles framed the conversation about Common Core Standards, families and youth academic achievement.

"What are our goals for education?" Nettles asked attendees. "What types of innovations are needed to strengthen our schools and community? How can we engage the entire community in supporting continuous improvement? And how can we overcome a history of separation and division?"

"The reality we face is that the nation needs all of its people to reach their potential in order to sustain global competitiveness, our standard of living, create continuous growth of jobs and the economy and maintain democracy," Nettles said. "Until now, the nation has been able to survive and even thrive by providing a high-quality education for a small fraction of the population. However, jobs of the present and future require a larger share of the population to acquire higher-level knowledge and skills."

Richard Coley, Director of ETS's Policy Information Center, opened the Friday sessions with a presentation from his research report The Family: America's Smallest School.

"Families matter. When parents are married and employed, when they turn off the television and monitor homework, their children are more likely to succeed in school," Coley told attendees. "Today, however, many families are struggling, and their struggles contribute to the achievement gap separating low-income and minority students from their more affluent White and Asian peers."

"Education reformers have focused on what happens inside classrooms, but the impact of family means that school reform alone cannot eliminate the achievement gap," adds Coley. "An array of programs aimed at strengthening families -- home visits to expectant mothers, marriage and fatherhood training, high-quality early childhood education, efforts to involve parents in schools -- promises a way out of this dilemma."

The conference agenda, the list of speakers as well as discussion topics can be downloaded at

About ETS
At nonprofit ETS, we advance quality and equity in education for people worldwide by creating assessments based on rigorous research. ETS serves individuals, educational institutions and government agencies by providing customized solutions for teacher certification, English language learning, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education, as well as conducting education research, analysis and policy studies. Founded in 1947, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests annually -- including the TOEFL® and TOEIC® tests, the GRE® tests and The Praxis Series™ assessments -- in more than 180 countries, at over 9,000 locations worldwide.

The Urban League of Middle Tennessee
The mission of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee is to enable African Americans, other minorities and disenfranchised groups to secure economic self-reliance, power, parity, and civil rights. Our Urban League movement empowers communities and changes lives. Our efforts are focused in the following areas: Economic empowerment -- which includes workforce development, jobs, housing, and entrepreneurship; Youth & Education services focused on ensuring academic competence while preparing our young people for life, leadership and success within a global economy; Health & Quality of Life for all and particularly for the least of our citizens; Civic Engagement and empowering communities through participation in the political process; and Civil Rights and Racial Justice.

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