I've worked with the National Urban Alliance in three different settings and have found their work to be stellar --- the best I know of in the nation with regard to accelerating the achievement of students in urban settings. Their approach is firmly grounded in a set of values about the unlimited potential of our students, staff, and community and on powerful research about cognitive modifiability and building on assets and strengths to engage all students in high intellectual performance.
Their ability to engage educators, learners, and families together in enacting essential pedagogical practices is unparalleled. They deliver on their promises!
Francisca Sanchez, Associate Superintendent
Hayward Unified School District
Edina Public Schools partnership with The National Urban Alliance has greatly impacted teacher pedagogy and student achievement. Edina has been involved in some way with NUA for the past 10 years, and over that time our district has seen the reading racial achiement gap between blacks and whites close by approximately 20 points in large part to the cuturally responsive teaching strategies that staff now use in the classroom. The work of NUA is clearly visible in the schools that have been directly involved with cohorts, and their influence is even being felt in other schools in our district through the works of our staff development to bring strategies to those schools.
My experience with NUA was wonderful! I have never worked with a more experienced, trained, and talented group of people. The crew I had the pleasure of working with for the past 5 years were great! Augusta, Mammie, and Stephine were good at what they did. My training with them has taught me how to better help my students. I have also traveled and even taught their strategies to my colleagues. We have reinforced the use of the thinking maps and their concepts. Anyone who has the opprotunity to work with them will not regret it! I only wish I could still be a part of that family to help others understand the usage of the program and what it has to offer.
For more than two decades the National Urban Alliance has experienced success as a catalyst for the transformation of urban school systems. NUA has been the national leader in helping educators to focus upon the strengths of students, rather than their perceived weaknesses, as the key for raising student achievement.
Long before the current administration's insight that NCLB is wrong-headed in its encouragement of teaching to the test, NUA was demonstrating through professional development proven pedagogical strategies for enhancing the cognitive capacity of students. Teachers and school leaders learned theory and practice regarding using the brain's cognitive processes to improve student achievement without reliance upon the "drill and kill" techniques that accompany an over-reliance upon test preparation.
With the focus on pedagogical strategies that emphasize student strengths, student engagement, culture and motivation, participating schools in cities, such as Seattle, Indianapolis, Albany (NY), Newark, Minneapolis and Bridgeport, demonstrated significant greater growth than similar schools in corresponding cities and states.
NUA has also established a very promising initiative known as Student Voice. The belief is that every student has value and a story to tell. NUA brings teachers and principals together with their students for professional development sessions that examine and improve upon methods for teaching literacy and subject matter. Students are taught to develop lessons and units which are subsequently taught in classes by the students. As a result the entire learning environment is transformed with: students gaining tremendous confidence in their own intellectual capacity; peers becoming more energized and engaged; teachers improving relationships with students; and a greater emphasis on higher level learning throughout the school. The Student Voice initiative has been featured on CNN, NPR and throughout the leading publications of professional organizations.
The National Urban Alliance is in its ninth year of serving as a catalyst and vital partner to a consortium of eight school districts in Minnesota to raise the achievement of all students; to eliminate the racial achievement gap; and to prepare all learners to thrive in a diverse world through regional leadership, integrated learning opportunities, shared resources, and mutual support. NUA staff have helped build the collective capacity of the consortium members to ensure sustainability of the strategies designed to transform the belief systems and pedagogy of school staff members in order to provide culturally responsive instruction for a very diverse urban/suburban population. This long-term systemic approach to transformation includes: ongoing administrator and teacher leadership training, student leadership involvement, formation of cadres of school staff who commit to a two year professional development course which includes workshops, study groups, and on-site job imbedded feedback, week-long summer institute courses, and walk-through assessments with feedback.
As the Local Coordinator, I have observed the phenomenal impact of this initiativel! The work is being sustained through the leadership efforts of local administrators and teachers! Several of our member districts have experienced rising test scores of ALL students and significant gains by students of color toward eliminating the achievement gap. The culture of our schools promote high intellectual performance and a belief in the capacity of ALL children to reach the highest levels of learning and thinking. Participating teachers report that their instruction has changed and that is what has made the difference! Several teachers have commented that working with the National Urban Alliance is the most effective staff development that they have experienced in over thirty years of teaching. I highly recommend the National Urban Alliance as an outstanding non-profit organization.
I served as the liaison between a large urban district in California that contracted with NUA for over two years of professional development. The work that NUA does changes the lives of teachers, the climate of schools, and most importantly changes the lives of young people. The strategies presented by NUA is by far the best compilation of pedagogy that I have seen in my 16 year career. NUA changes the way teachers approach students in the classroom. Teachers continuously state that NUA help them reach students that they have struggled to reach in the past. I can not encourage educators enough to not only embrace the National Urban Alliance but to allow themselves to be embraced by the National Urban Alliance. The pedagogy will make a difference in the classroom.......and yes, in the test scores.
I had the great pleasure of a great association with the National Urban Alliance over a period of time in varying roles as a school administrator. I credit the professional development my teachers received from NUA with my school being able to return to making AYP several years ago. My teachers were excited about what they learnd because it helped them provide rigorous and relevant content in their classrooms that the students loved.
Everyone I met with NUA is top notch and there motivation is children and every child's learning options.
While serving as superintendent of St. Louis, the National Urban Alliance partnered with our students, staff and community to improve teaching and learning. Their highly trained staff motivated and challenged our teachers, principals and students to raise expectations for themselves and others. NUA left a lasting positive impact!
NUA was a subcontractor on a multi-million dollar federal grant obtained by the University of Alabama at Birmingham from 2005 to 2010. They provided extensive professional development to 100s of Birmingham City Schools teachers and principals. The grant was obtained under my leadership as dean of the UAB School of Education and I was intimately involved in the details of the grant operations.
The NUA leadership and their consultants showed passion and commitment throughout their work. Their deep understanding of how teachers and principals could change the direction of teaching and learning in urban schools was truly outstanding and the delivery of the professional development they offered matched their understanding.
The consultants as a group had extraordinary capacity to bring teachers specific strategies for allowing students to develop the confidence to move directly to acceleration instead of persisting in remediation, both in attitudes towards school and in direct educational outcomes.
I had just become Superintendent of Schools in Indianapolis and our board and I were faced with low student achievement in many of the schools. The National Urban Alliance (NUA) partnered with us, audited each school to look at instructional issues, designed a staff development plan for the district and implemented it. Not only did they signficantly help us raise student achievement, they also worked with us to find grant opportunites to help fund the partnership. There is no question that the National Urban Alliance makes a difference for all children and proves that poverty is not destiny.