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Education sPOTLIGHT

bASELINE REPORT SHOWS COUNTY GAPS, OPPORTUNITIES

KALAMAZOO, MI - The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo, working with the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, has developed a comprehensive Kalamazoo County education profile. The 2015 Baseline Report is intended to spark community-wide conversation and spur continued educational improvement.

The report is believed to be the most comprehensive snapshot ever developed of Kalamazoo County’s educational standings.  

“If we want to achieve cradle-to-career educational success for all our students, we must know where we are on that path today,” says Amy Slancik, director of The Learning Network. “Our hope is to engage the community in a holistic approach to providing support. Too often our schools are expected to bear the full burden of teaching. But kids can’t learn if they’re not healthy, if they’re hungry, or if they’re experiencing other stress factors.”

Slancik says Kalamazoo County offers enormous resources for children and families that directly or indirectly affect educational outcomes. The Learning Network’s mission is to bring those community resources together for the benefit of students and community alike.

The report has been a goal of The Learning Network since its inception. Shortly after it was formed, The Learning Network put a scorecard in place that identified evidence-based education milestones. Education professionals use these widely accepted benchmarks to determine how a student is progressing along a recognized academic scale.

For example, students should be ready for kindergarten and be performing at or above grade level in third grade math and reading. As part of its mission, The Learning Network is committed to helping Kalamazoo County students reach these milestones. The organization strives toward that goal by bringing together organizations and individuals in the education space to share resources and work toward specific shared outcomes.

“When a student misses even one benchmark, he or she is at risk for falling further behind,” says Slancik. “It’s like trying to catch a train that’s gathering speed as it passes.”

The Learning Network will be introducing the report publicly through a series of community conversations beginning in January. A schedule of those events will be published online after the New Year and invitations distributed through local media. The report may be downloaded now online. Visit www.TheLearningNetwork.org for more information.