Monday, March 26, 2012

Second Annual Grad Nation Summit in Washington, D.C.

On March 21-23 in Washington D.C., the second annual Building a Grad Nation Summit was hosted by America's Promise Alliance, in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Grad Nation is a large and growing movement of individuals, organizations and communities working together to end the high school dropout crisis and to prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce. Grad Nation goals include achieving a 90 percent graduation rate nationwide by 2020, with no high school graduating less than 80 percent of its students, and regaining America’s standing as first in the world in college completion. 

Building on the success of the first summit in 2011, the 2012 Grad Nation Summit brought together hundreds of community organizations, educators, local and state leaders, national nonprofit organizations, businesses, youth and others to focus on the progress being made against the Grad Nation goals in communities and states across the nation, and to strategize on additional action. 

The Pearson Foundation was proud to be a sponsor of this important and successful event.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Grad Nation Making Progress on Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic

Some good news was released in the 2012 report update of Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic by the Alliance for Excellent Education, America's Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University.

The report shows that the nation continues to make progress on high school dropout rates, with more than half of states in the US increasing graduation rates.

The report also reveals that the number of "dropout factory" high schools—those graduating 60 percent or fewer students on time—decreased by 457 between 2002 and 2010, with the rate of decline accelerating since 2008. The number of "dropout factories" totaled 1,550 in 2010, down from 1,634 in 2009 and a high of 2,007 in 2002. The number declined by 84 between 2009 and 2010. As a result, 790,000 fewer students attended dropout factories in 2010 than 2002. 

The findings are impressive and emphasize how important the work of Grad Nation is to our country. We at the Pearson Foundation are pleased to support the good work of Grad Nation.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Mark Nieker on This is America with Dennis Wholey

On March 15th and 16th, I attended the second annual International Summit on the Teaching Profession organized by the U.S. Department of Education, OECD, and Education International (EI).

At the summit, leaders from countries all over the world, with high-performing and rapidly improving educational systems, came together to share common challenges and best practices for training and supporting teachers and school leaders.

The Pearson Foundation was pleased to be a part of the summit, as well as one of its first sponsors. I provided introductory remarks to the panel: International Summit: Learning on the World’s Stage. During the panel discussion education leaders from around the world said collaboration, support, and empowerment are the keys to creating and sustaining a high-quality teaching force.

The other news at the summit was being interviewed by Dennis Wholey on This is America. During the interview Dennis and I discussed what issues were being identified at the summit as the common denominators to a successful education system.

Prior to the summit, OECD released a background paper, Preparing Teachers and Developing School Leaders for the 21st Century, Lessons From around the World. The paper outlined the need to improve preparation and professional development for schools leaders and principals while using examples from participating countries to illustrate various practices and policies. The Pearson Foundation is proud to continue to support the important work of OECD.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Will Tablets Replace Textbooks? Findings from our Second Annual Survey on Students and Tablets

Last week's launch of the new Apple iPad engendered more buzz around tablets and their roles for both personal and educational use. Since our first survey on this topic last year, we've been following closely as it seems there are more and more reasons to believe tablets are making their way into college classrooms—and more and more reasons to believe that tablets themselves are changing the way young people think about learning and formal education.

Today, we’re releasing the Second Annual Pearson Foundation Survey on Students and Tablets. Conducted by Harris Interactive, the survey helps frame the ways that college students and college-bound high school seniors currently use and would like to use the latest digital technologies.
Perhaps most impressive is this finding: Tablet ownership among college students and college-bound high school students has more than tripled from a year ago. The survey also reveals that more students are reading digital books than were last year, and a majority of college students and high school seniors believe that tablets will replace textbooks in the next five years. (This survey was conducted in January, 2012 and consisted of a nationally representative online poll of more than one thousand college students and more than two hundred college-bound seniors in the United States.)

The results are well worth reading. You can find the Pearson Foundation Survey on Students and Tablets overview on our site, or, read the official Summary of Findings online.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pass the Books. Watch the Films.

If you've not yet seen it, you're sure to be as pleased as I was to read Thomas Friedman's recent "Pass the Books. Hold the Oil" in Sunday's New York Times—not only because the column underscores the important connection between education and better outcomes for individuals and for nations, but because it does so in a way that rightly acknowledges OECD's important work in framing this connection.

The timing was strong for those of us at the Foundation, as on Sunday we were making final plans to announce the formal addition of six new films to our "Strong Performers and Successful Reformers" series—a film series we've put together in partnership with OECD that documents the ways countries have successfully reformed their education systems to better serve their students and teachers.

As the resulting release explains: Each short film presents concrete solutions that have helped each education system to identify and teach the skills students need to succeed in an increasingly global, interconnected economy. The video series has been shaped by the OECD's Andreas Schleicher, who is heavily cited in Mr. Friedman's column.

All of this is a great prelude to another key event this week—the second annual International Summit on the Teaching Profession—which brings education leaders from countries around the world to New York City to share ideas and to discuss the key drivers of the teaching profession. We were pleased to be able to help publish the results of last year's International Summit (you can download the Asia Society’s excellent post-summary report here, or read a more recent round up in an Ed Week bost by the Asia Society’s Tony Jackson, here).

We're equally pleased that this year together with OECD we'll share DVD copies of the entire video series—all ten films—with every person in attendance.

More from New York later this week.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Now Available: The 2011 My Voice National Student Report

If you've not met Russ Quaglia, you're missing one of the Foundation's favorite people. Russ believes that by listening to students and understanding their aspirations, educators can improve today's teaching and learning environments. And he's devoted his professional life to formalizing the ways we can learn from and about young people and the ways educators can benefit from what we find out.

We at the Pearson Foundation have been so inspired by Russ' body of work that—since 2009—we've been supporting both the research conducted at the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations and his My Voice Student Aspirations Survey survey, which seeks to gather information about student perceptions of their experience at school. Administrators, educators, parents and students use survey findings to improve schools, inspiring many schools to create or move to a more student-centered focus.

This week we're excited to share the findings of the most recent National Report, conducted with more than 57,000 students in grades 6-12 during the 2010-2011 academic year and representing more than 200 schools from across the United States.

Please take the time to read the Executive Summary, or review the full My Voice National Student Report.

To learn more about the My Voice program, please visit

Friday, March 2, 2012

Join Us on March 7 for World Read Aloud Day 2012!

Worldwide, more than 793 million people remain illiterate. Our friends at LitWorld are trying to change that by spreading the power of stories.

Join us at the Pearson Foundation on March 7, 2012, as we stand with LitWorld—a fantastic global literacy organization and We Give Books literacy partner—in celebrating World Read Aloud Day.

World Read Aloud Day aims to motivate children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.

It’s easy to support World Read Aloud Day —simply pledge online to read aloud with loved ones and friends on March 7. You’ll find a library of great read-aloud stories online at We Give Books, and, as always, for each book you read in our online library, we will share a book with a child in need. To learn more about LitWorld and to register to participate in World Read Aloud Day, please visit