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.
My 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 In a break with the last 15 years of national practice, namely the recently repealed No Child Left Behind Act, A QuESTT is a Nebraska approach recognizing that learning is a dynamic process that cannot be captured in a single test.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.