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ASCD Legislative Agenda Calls for Coherent System to Support the Whole Learner

Alexandria, Va. — ASCD, a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading, has released its 2016 Legislative Agenda (PDF), calling on policymakers and stakeholders to align educational programs and create a coherent system to support and develop the whole learner, from early childhood to graduation. Each of the policy recommendations made in the agenda is focused on promoting comprehensive success for students, educators, schools, communities, and the nation.

“To create a system that supports the whole learner, policymakers must ensure equity and access to high-quality educational opportunities for all children,” said David Griffith, ASCD senior director of government relations. “The 2016 ASCD Legislative Agenda lays out the conditions for creating such a system, with each recommendation working toward the goal of students and staff who are healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.”

The agenda, developed by ASCD’s legislative committee — a diverse cross section of ASCD members from the entire spectrum of K–12 education — outlines the association’s education policy priorities for 2016. ASCD’s specific recommendations are divided into three key areas:

  • Conditions for Learning — The legislative agenda explains that a foundation of systemic support across families, schools, and communities is necessary for students to thrive. The agenda gives 10 recommendations to systemically promote the development and growth of the whole child. Among these recommendations are personalized learning and well-rounded instruction; culturally relevant and identity-affirming curricula and learning environments; funding that is robust, equitable, and recognized as an investment priority; and the availability of community- and school-based mental health services.
  • Whole Child Accountability — As schools and communities embrace a broader, more comprehensive definition of student success, ASCD states that next-generation accountability systems must accomplish several specific objectives. These objectives include providing the public with clear and understandable information on performance and progress; promoting the personalized and protected use of qualitative and quantitative data for decision making; and supporting flexibility and autonomy in decision making while maintaining a focus on ongoing support for the most in-need students.
  • Educator Leadership and Support — ASCD believes that teachers and school leaders are the two most important in-school factors for student achievement, and they deserve the recognition and resources to maximize student learning. The agenda provides five ways for policymakers to ensure that each student has access to effective educators, such as making necessary investments in time and resources to support educators along the entire career continuum—from induction and mentoring to career ladders and varied teacher leadership opportunities—and offering flexibility in routes to licensure while maintaining rigorous professional standards.

Educators who wish to become informed about the education policy and politics that influence their day-to-day work can join ASCD’s free Educator Advocates program. This program empowers educators to speak up and shape our nation’s future by joining with colleagues to help lawmakers make the best education decisions. Educator advocates receive a host of benefits, including the Capitol Connection weekly e-newsletter and just-in-time e-mail alerts on important issues.

The complete 2016 ASCD Legislative Agenda can be found at www.ascd.org/legislativeagenda. For more information on ASCD’s Educator Advocates program, visit www.EducatorAdvocates.org.

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