Source: Academic Link Outreach

The American Library Association (ALA) describes equality this way, “The ideal of equal access is fundamental to American democracy.” We know the concept “all men are created equal” sets up a strong expectation that every citizen deserves the same opportunity.

The mission of Academic Link Outreach (ALO) is to give each child a fair, equal, and equitable start in education, and to continue that work as they progress through school. Our vision is that all students in grades K-12 will be more academically competitive and personally fulfilled as they progress through these crucial years.

Academic Link Outreach develops and distributes community based programs and materials that provide additional support to students and schools. Our work focuses on academics, building relationships, and the positive, protective factors that enable students to meet or exceed state standards, graduate from high school, and be better prepared for the workforce or college. We want to prepare students to be equal and active participants in our democracy.

Are all students provided with an equal opportunity to succeed during the school year? After all, every student participates in a school year lasting 180 days. That’s where the issue of equity comes in.

We know that to create true equality, we must also have equity.

The ALA describes equity this way, “When some are excluded or lack the knowledge, income, equipment, or training necessary to participate fully in public discourse, they must overcome obstacles to access in order to ensure fairness.” They go on to say, “…a good society commits resources in order to level the playing field.” Equity demands remedies to create a system of equality. Where there is no equity, there is no equality and that includes our 180 day school year.

Source: Academic Link Outreach

ALO knows to provide this equity, learning cannot stop when the last school bell rings.

That’s why our organization is dedicated to proving what students need and creating sustainable solutions to provide it.

Four years ago we embarked on the PATH to College Success (PCS) Program to do just that. Through close monitoring and evaluation of data, ALO was able to determine what type of support students needed to excel. The majority of the 48 students monitored were eligible for the College Bound Scholarship.

Beginning in 7th grade, through 10th grade, students are held to high academic standards of earning a 3.0 or better GPA with no D or F grades. Students’ grades are monitored weekly and they’re given “outside the school day” support, with the goal of being college ready. Students attended prep camp before entering 7th and 9th grade and prep sessions before each state test exam.

PCS students at Alderwood Middle School in the Edmonds District passed the 8th grade Washington state achievement test called the Measurement of Student Progress in mathematics and reading at a higher rate than Washington state, the Edmonds District as a whole, and the rest of their Alderwood classmates. All of PCS students who took the End of Course algebra and geometry exams in 8th grade passed.

As these statistics indicate, access to extended outside-the-school-day programs is necessary in order to guarantee that all students receive the support they need to learn effectively.

Only when students have ample, consistent, and structured academic support can parents and teachers fairly hold them accountable. Only when we provide this type of equitable educational experience can we say that all children are provided equal opportunity to succeed within the 180 day school year.

Source: Academic Link Outreach

ALO is dedicated to creating sustainable academic solutions to support our students and schools in providing equitable access to tutoring, mentoring, and technology resources. By linking schools, families, communities and resources, we can help students gain the confidence and competence they need to master core topics and graduate high school truly prepared for the next phase of their education.

This is the kind of equity we should insist upon for all.

* Editor’s Note: This is a guest authored piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Washington Business Alliance. 

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