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.
The NUA team and all they have to offer has had a significant impact on our work with students. The NUA has helped us have the tools to effectively support all children grow academically and deepen their connections and engagement with others and school. The NUA helps us understand the process of learning while focusing on students strengths. They have helped us shift from a deficit model to a growth model. In the past 5 years of partnering with the NUA our districts academic scores have continued to rise as we attempt to eliminate achievement gaps. The NUA is one of the primary reasons that we have had ongoing success. The NUA has helped us begin to achieve our goal to ensure the learning for all children.
NUA provides outstanding professional development for educators. They understand student needs for engagement, higher order thinking skills, pedogogy that is research based, and all teaching strategies that improve student learning. In addition, the instructors and mentors are able to deliver those best practices to educators for immediate use in classrooms for the students.
Susan Sommerfeld, Principal
West Middle School
Wayzata Public Schools
As the grants director for a large urban school district, I was tasked with finding resources to assist students and teachers. When the opportunity came from the U. S. Department of Education to submit a grant to improve adolescent literacy, my district applied and won, becoming one of eight successful applicants for the first Striving Readers program competition on 2006. More than 300 districts applied for these funds and our identifying the National Urban Allicance for Effective Education (NUA) as a partner contributed to this major grant award. I was working on a tight timeline and was skeptical that we could identify a partner who could support our needs, have substance (not hype) and could help a non-educator understand their approach. I met with Dr. Ahmes Askia for only a few hours; she provided the NUA's approach and plan that was clear, concise and fully school and teacher friendly. NUA promised consultants who would plan with the district and provide ongoing professional development activities. They delivered. NUA promised that the consultants would be scholar practitioners who would incorporate the latest research on brain-based learning, cognition, and reasoning. They delivered. Even with changes in school leaders and teachers, the NUA was consistent in the quality of service delivery. Thus, a plan that could be understood by a non-educator, could be incorporated into a major grant, and the services received could be implemented well by educators. NUA delivered in all aspects and is an excellent organization that does what it promises.
I first became acquainted with the NUA when they provided professional development to teachers in my school. When I saw some of the educational strategies and heard about the educational practices from other teachers, I knew I wanted to learn more. I started professional development with NUA the next year and was able to put what I learned into practice. I saw first hand how the strategies helped all students learn and saw an increase in writing test scores after using rhyme, rhythm, and repetition to help my students learn how to write a 5 paragraph essay. The mentors and other professionals of NUA are committed to helping all students achieve to their highest potential. They provide research based strategies and support to help teachers achieve the goal of high student achievement. It is a strength based philosophy that works and everyone in the organization is professional, committed, and constantly working to improve educational opportunities for all children.