For the first time, we included the statement below in a grant proposal. This is our effort to proactively define what makes Reach different.
While Reach is strongly committed to achieving the results necessary to secure funding, the organization is equally committed to integrity in the way we collect and communicate program results.
Throughout our history, we have chosen to serve the most challenging students, even when that commitment may make our program outcomes look less impressive.
In the context of today’s testing, all students are organized into four categories: below basic, basic, proficient, and advanced. Schools are judged on how many students they can move to proficient and advanced. For this reason, it makes sense for schools to spend limited resources on moving basic students to proficiency.
At Reach, we are focused on the most challenging work. We intentionally recruit those students who are labeled as below basic, even when we know it may take years to get to proficiency. This is just one way that we choose a standard higher than many others.
Another example is that we measure participant retention from October 1st. Many organizations collect baseline data on November 15th, when the most challenging students have already left – meaning, according to program data, it is as though they never existed. We could improve our retention data by doing the same. We, however, feel it important to count every participant that joins our program.
That is the standard to which we hold ourselves accountable. By doing so, we have lost funding opportunities, yet we remain committed to the most challenging participants, even when this comes at a significant cost.
Reach’s work is slow and messy. It is not linear. Our work requires immense patience in a world that demands immediate returns. Because of our belief in the long-term value of our model, we remain willing to weather the times when program data fails to show significant short-term gains.
At Reach, honesty and integrity drive the way we make decisions. As a young organization, we continue to value the learning derived from all available assessments. When difficult, we will continue to make the hardest decisions, even when we make the path to success more challenging for ourselves.
Each day, in the successes and stories of our young people, we see the positive results of these decisions. Sometimes, it just requires a little patience.