Beyond School Bells, part 5: A QuESTT

Over the course of six weeks, the Nebraska Children blog has invited Jeff Cole, Associate Vice President of School-Community Partnerships for Beyond School Bells, to write some guest posts sharing his program’s work.

NebraskaChildren_BSB_final_Jan2016My previous posts have focused on Beyond School Bells’ role in supporting and developing high-quality, school-based, community-powered afterschool and summer programs – what we call Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELOs).

In this post, I’m going to change things up and focus on a development at the Nebraska Department of Education that could potentially have a huge impact on ELO programs in every school across our state: the Accountability for a Quality Education System Today and Tomorrow system, or A QuESTT.

One of the most far-reaching educational developments in Nebraska in recent years, A QuESTT was launched in 2015 and represents the future of state-level accountability for Nebraska’s schools, districts, and communities. In a break with the last 15 years of national practice, namely the recently repealed No Child Left Behind Act, A QuESTT is a Nebraska approach recognizing that learning is a dynamic process that cannot be captured in a single test.

In place of a sole reliance on high-stakes testing, A QuESTT creates a process for evaluating and measuring diverse components of a quality education. And in A QuESTT, school-community partnerships providing high-quality ELO programs for students are considered an important piece of the puzzle. This development codifies what common sense tells us – that learning taking place during the afterschool hours and over the summer months plays a critical role in the education of all Nebraska youth.

This recognition, and the corresponding development of an accountability framework in A QuESTT that incentivizes and rewards school-community partnerships, represents a huge opportunity for ELOs. A QuESTT encourages schools and districts across the state to think about developing more ELO partnerships to support key tenets of A QuESTT, like expanded learning, easing transitions, and supporting career exploration, among others.

In this week’s video, we turned to Nebraska’s state and local administrators to explain A QuESTT and the potential it has to elevate the role school-community partnerships can play in supporting the education of all young people in Nebraska.

If you’d like to learn more about A QuESTT, on our video page you can download a PDF of an editorial I wrote in the Nebraska Association of School Administrators Spring 2016 newsletter.

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports children, young adults and families at risk with the overall goal of giving our state's most vulnerable kids what they need to reach their full potential. We do this by building strong communities that support families so their children can grow up to be thriving, productive adults.

Posted in Middle Childhood, Uncategorized

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