News

NewSchools Venture Fund Invests $1 Million in The Achievement Network (ANet)

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – September 16, 2009 – NewSchools Venture Fund today announced an investment of $1 million in The Achievement Network (formerly called Massachusetts Public School Performance), a nonprofit organization committed to helping teachers and school leaders understand and effectively use real-time student data – test results that are made immediately available to teachers – to improve instruction and increase student achievement. The Achievement Network (ANet) currently serves schools in Boston, New Orleans, and Washington DC. The organization plans to expand to two additional urban markets in 2009-2010, adding services in Chicago and Newark, and will serve a total of 70 schools.

While seemingly technical, real-time student data has the capacity to revolutionize schooling, by giving teachers crucial information far sooner. Armed with that information, skilled teachers can reach out to students who are falling behind in their specific areas of need, while speeding forward those students who are already advanced. Today, in many schools, teachers administer standardized tests only a few times each year. They receive the results of these tests too late to make substantial adjustments in areas where students may be struggling. Research has shown that the consistent use of test data is a highly effective tool for improving student achievement. Teachers and leaders need real-time data about student performance to immediately understand student strengths and weaknesses and create interventions that meet key areas of need. However, many schools lack the capacity and necessary structures and processes to use data effectively. In response, NewSchools Venture Fund has sought to identify and support strong entrepreneurial organizations that can help schools address this enormous challenge. By filling this critical need in high-poverty urban schools, ANet helps schools take data-driven action to improve student outcomes and close the achievement gap.

Founded in 2005, The Achievement Network helps teachers and principals collect, understand and effectively use real-time data about their students’ performance. In the schools working with ANet, teachers administer ANet-designed tests on a regular and frequent basis. Within 72 hours of a test, ANet provides timely and accurate results to schools, and organizes meetings to work with leaders and teachers to make sure that the data are understood and plans for instruction and remediation are adjusted accordingly. Additionally, ANet works to create a collaborative network with all participating schools, holding meetings several times annually, which allow leaders and instructional staff from different schools to compare grade-level and subject-specific data and share what’s working. This provision of data, related coaching, and sharing of what’s working helps all students continuously improve, increasing the likelihood that students can master grade-level material by the end of the school year.

“By providing the clear and frequent student data and the smart guidance that many urban public schools lack, The Achievement Network is creating the conditions for better teaching and better student results in many of the schools of greatest need.” said Jordan Meranus, a Partner at NewSchools who has joined the board of The Achievement Network. “We look forward to working closely with The Achievement Network team as they continue to scale their efforts and improve student outcomes in new schools and cities.”

“We are thrilled to gain the financial and strategic support of NewSchools Venture Fund,” said Ted Preston, CEO of The Achievement Network. “NewSchools’ expertise and network in public education reform will be vital to our ability to grow. With their help, we anticipate promoting data-driven instruction to support more teachers and reaching a growing number of students in urban public schools.”

To date, data show that schools that work with ANet make more progress on standardized assessments than their peers. On average, the Boston schools working with The Achievement Network have achieved higher gains on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) over the last two years than either Boston Public Schools or the State of Massachusetts. For example, Excel Charter School in Boston, which was struggling prior to working with MPSP, is now one of the top middle schools in Massachusetts and regularly outperforms top suburban schools. Excel cites working with MPSP as one of the major drivers for its improvement.

NewSchools Venture Fund looks forward to supporting ANet’s efforts to work with a growing network of schools, teacher and leaders to achieve better outcomes for their students. The Achievement Network has also begun working closely with a number of the ventures in the NewSchools portfolio, including three high performing charter networks in Washington, D.C. – KIPP DC, DC Prep and Friendship Public Charter School – and New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), an organization that supports startup efforts in New Orleans.

About The Achievement Network
Founded in 2005, The Achievement Network’s (www.achievementnetwork.org) mission is to build the capacity of school leaders to understand and effectively use real-time data to improve instruction and increase student achievement. ANet currently serves schools in Boston, Newark, Washington DC, New Orleans and Chicago.

About NewSchools Venture Fund
NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that has been working since 1998 to transform public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs so that all children – especially those in underserved communities – have the opportunity to succeed. NewSchools invests in organizations that provide the systems, people and tools critical to successful public schooling, and connects their work to the broader landscape of public education reform. More information is available at www.newschools.org.