Accountability for student performance goes well beyond teachers and schools

January 7, 2015 / Briefs 2015 / 0 Comments /

Ensuring that our community’s children have high-quality teachers and schools is absolutely critical to student success. However, children are not just products of their schools, but also of their families and communities.

We know that children from impoverished backgrounds are at risk for poor school performance. From early childhood through adolescence, this performance gap only grows wider as children progress through school. Teachers and schools are left battling the headwinds of poor out-of-school developmental and educational support for their students as this performance gap continually widens. Children from poverty often do not have the same family or community support that many middle-income children have.

Therefore, policies to improve educational (as well as health) outcomes must also address family and community factors. High quality pre-kindergarten is vitally important for young children, especially those from at-risk backgrounds. However, when high quality pre-kindergarten is combined with strong home and community “wrap-around” services, the benefits are only magnified. Organizations that advocate for a holistic civic infrastructure that supports children from cradle-to-career understand how important family and community are to children’s success in school, career, and life.

Research shows us that success builds upon success. However, we can’t expect schools to “go it alone.” To foster success among our children, we must hold ourselves, our families, and our communities as accountable as we hold our teachers and schools.

Read more in our full brief.

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Download Research Brief (PDF, 2015-Jan)


The Nurturing Parenting (NP) program is designed to foster positive parenting practices within families.

December 12, 2014 / Briefs 2014 / 0 Comments /

The Pathways to Success Partnership, a joint collaboration between Shelby County Schools (SCS) and the Urban Child Institute, has been researching factors associated with positive early childhood development, kindergarten readiness, and later academic achievement for several years.
Recently, they teamed with the PeopleFirst Initiative and the Early Success Coalition to study whether implementing an intentional positive parenting program in selected SCS pre-kindergarten (pre-k) classrooms will positively impact children’s success in school, as well as the interactions that parents and teachers have with those children.

The results of this study will help to inform whether implementation of an NP-informed curriculum will help to foster positive parenting practices and, in doing so, support children’s development and kindergarten readiness.

Read more in our full brief.

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Download Research Brief (PDF, 2014-05)


Literacy in Memphis and Shelby County: Some groups of low-income students are doing much better than others.

February 25, 2014 / Briefs 2014 / 0 Comments /

Literacy is context specific.
Literacy is necessary for college and career readiness and success.
Many Shelby County Schools (SCS) students are not college ready in reading.
Low-income youth are less likely to be proficient in reading.
Some groups of low-income students are doing much better than others.
Young adults’ literacy levels reflect early learning, school environments, and family and community factors.
Stronger, individual-level measures of literacy level need to be part of any literacy intervention.

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Download Brief 03/2014 (PDF)

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In 2013, two in three children in Shelby County entered kindergarten below age-appropriate levels of reading readiness.

January 27, 2014 / Local Data / 0 Comments /
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Source: 12. Sell, M. (2013). Research Brief: Kindergarten Readiness. Shelby County Schools Office of Planning and Accountability, Office of Research, Planning, and Improvement.


Many children in Shelby County reach school at a disadvantage.

January 23, 2014 / Uncategorized / 0 Comments /

Adverse early childhood experiences influence language development in the early years.
Early disadvantages in development lead to lower levels of kindergarten readiness.
Readiness gaps become academic achievement gaps and grow wider over time.

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Download Brief 01/2014 (PDF)

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Factors impacting reading readiness

January 8, 2014 / Local Data / 0 Comments /
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Early childhood differences influence reading readiness…
Memphis, TN, 2012

Source: Shahin Samiei, M. Sell, A. Bush & D. Imig. 2012. “Evaluating the relationship between the Imagination Library early childhood literacy program and kindergarten readiness.”