December 8, 2005

National Academy Foundation: Reinforcing Core Programs

How does NAF’s work helping pockets of high-need public-school youth mesh with the national trend toward district-wide school reform?

National Academy Foundation: Reinforcing Core Programs Robert Searle and Kate Richey As of early 2005, National Academy Foundation (NAF) was serving 40,000 students through its pioneering network of career-themed small schools that operate within larger public schools. Since the organization opened its first Academy in 1982, recognition had grown among school reformers that transforming the U.S. educational system would require change not only at the individual school level but also at the district level. School districts had begun asking for NAF’s help with district-wide reform efforts. NAF’s leadership joined forces with the Bridgespan Group to determine if they could and should engage proactively with school districts. When new data about Academy performance was brought to bear, they discovered that many of their Academies were falling short of the organization’s goals. This realization prompted NAF’s leadership to set some clear priorities to strengthen their Academy core and simultaneously establish district-wide reform as a viable option down the road.

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