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Say Yes is implementing accountability measures

The paper’s continuing coverage of Say Yes’ work in Buffalo has helped build public understanding of the community’s efforts to make college possible for all of the city’s young people and help rebuild our region’s economic vitality. I’d like to address one aspect of a story in the Nov. 18 paper about Say Yes to Education’s accomplishments in Syracuse.

Say Yes has worked with third-party researchers such as the American Institutes for Research and Steve Ross from Johns Hopkins University to scientifically examine improvements being made in Syracuse, and we have a clear picture of how far we still need to go. As the story pointed out, what makes Say Yes so effective in increasing achievement and the number of students headed to college is that we work hand-in-hand with all members of the community. We attribute a significant amount of the progress that we’ve made together to the educators, community leaders, volunteers and everyone else involved in fueling a better future for our children.

As anyone who works with urban school districts knows, the process of creating better outcomes in high-poverty school districts takes time. Syracuse certainly has not been an exception, and in scores of presentations in Syracuse and Buffalo we have been forthright about our results. The data are reflecting some encouraging trends, but we know that annual fluctuation of test scores in the early phases of a project are not the best or only gauge of success. In Syracuse and Buffalo, we are implementing new accountability measures that will enable the public to see how we are progressing, and how the community, school district and Say Yes are doing in meeting their core commitments to young people. We have learned much from our collective successes and the inherent challenges of working with an entire city the size of Syracuse, and that experience will allow us to accelerate the pace of our work in Buffalo for the benefit of the community and its 34,000 students.

Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey

President

Say Yes to Education