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Portrait of a Great School

Updated: Jul 23, 2020

From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope provides a glimpse of the future of education that will make its readers hopeful. After two years researching the most successful systems in the world, this new report from the Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development concludes:

“When children and youth possess a full array of social, emotional, and cognitive skills, habits of mind, and character, they are best equipped to prosper in the classroom, perform in the workplace, and succeed in life as contributing and productive members of society.”

How can we transform industrial-age academic factories that continue to do things to children rather than with them and teach to the test to inviting, safe schools that teach to the whole child? A Nation at Hope answers with six recommendations;

  1. Set a clear vision that broadens the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child

  2. Transform learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young peoplE

  3. Change instruction to teach students social, emotional and cognitive skills; embed these skills in academics and schoolwide practices

  4. Build adult expertise in child development

  5. Align resources and leverage partners in the community to address the whole child

  6. Forge closer connections between research and practice by shifting the paradigm for how research gets done

Proactive and policy strategies at-a-glance are provided for each recommendation, followed by clear ‘how to’ instructions and exemplars from across the country.

A Nation at Hope includes clear, specific messages for:

  • Students and their families

  • Teachers, principals, and youth development professionals

  • Superintendents and school board members

  • Higher education institutions and professional associations

  • Policymakers

Many schools are doing some things well, and most want to do better. Like the picture on the jigsaw box, this report shows how all the essential pieces fit together harmoniously to create the portrait of a great school.

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