2017 Education Magazine

ADI provides national leadership in education
From Academic Development Institute, Vice President for Institutional Advancement Mark Williams

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[March 15, 2017]  Nestled, almost hidden, above the Prairie Years Gift Shop in downtown Lincoln is an influential and dynamic force for good in the national education scene.

Founded as a nonprofit in 1984 by Lincoln citizen Dr. Sam Redding, the Academic Development Instituteís mission has been to ďassist families, schools, and communities with childrenís academic and personal development.Ē

ADI began this work simply with a summer program for middle school students and parent education programs for schools. Since that time, ADI has expanded its reach to include every level of the education system.

In 1983, Sam was a dean at Lincoln College in Lincoln, Illinois. Attracted by the name Lincoln and the collegeís reputation for serving underprepared students (polishing the ďdiamond in the roughĒ), and enabled by new financial aid programs, minority students enrolled in ever larger numbers through the 1970s and early Ď80s. By 1983, more than a third of the collegeís students were African American, mostly from Chicago. These students were typically the first in their families to go to college, and the college built strong student support programs to enhance their opportunity for success. Still, many did not succeed.

Concerned about students who arrived at college full of hope but not prepared for the challenges, Dr. Redding formed ADI as a non-profit.

In that same year, the Joyce Foundation provided ADI with a $27,000 grant to develop a family engagement program in three Chicago elementary schools. The emphasis on family engagement stemmed from Dr. Reddingís observation that many underprivileged students arrived at college without the academic background and personal competencies that college requires and that engaging families early was one strategy that was underutilized.

ADI formed a research council that included eminent Chicagoans Herbert J. Walberg, Benjamin Bloom, Ralph Tyler, and James Coleman to guide its work.

Over the next decade, 30 foundations and corporations contributed to ADIís work, and its family engagement programs expanded to 200 Chicago schools. The MacArthur Foundation funded the Alliance for Achievement, an ADI initiative to build strong school communities focused on student learning.

The Laboratory for Student Success at Temple University adopted Alliance for Achievement and made it part of a comprehensive school reform program implemented in schools in 13 states. Through this adoption, ADI moved into the universe of school improvement.

In 1991, ADI began publishing the School Community Journal, still the premier, international, peer-reviewed journal on school community.

In 1999, ADI opened an office in East St. Louis, Illinois, to serve the stateís region with the highest concentration of poverty. ADI maintains that office today and also administers the Lincoln Parentsí Center here in town, assisting families with children from birth to age five in Logan County.

In 2007, in partnership with the Woods Foundation, ADI created Liftoff, a youth development program. Liftoff guides and supports students from eighth grade through college graduation.

From 1997 to 2006, ADI served as the Parent Information Resource Center (PIRC) for Illinois, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education. This support allowed ADI to exercise national leadership in the realm of parent and family engagement in support of student school learning. During this time, ADI created its first generation of tools to more easily and effectively bring together schools with parents; the next generation of these tools are now used within ADIís School Community Network and are used across the country and put actionable research into the hands of parents and educators.

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In 2005, ADI was awarded one of five national grants from the U.S. Department of Education to establish content centers to assist state education agencies. ADIís Center on Innovation & Improvement (CII) published seminal work on state systems of support, restructuring, and school turnaround. Three of CIIís publications earned awards from the American Educational Research Association. CII staff provided on-site consultation and training for state education agencies in 43 states.

In 2012, ADI formed the Indistar Network of 26 states that adopted ADIís web-based Indistar system for school improvement, a system that has now guided school improvement by school-based teams in more than 11,000 schools across the nation. Indistar makes the research consensus of effective school practice actionable, with research briefs and videos of effective practices to stimulate thought and high expectations of professional practice, as well as facilitating input of Ďcritical friendsí from the district and state. The platform is unique in education and harnesses performance management methodology to the unique needs of schools and families.

In 2012, ADI was a partner in three successful grant applications to create new content centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education. With its longtime partner, Temple University, ADI formed the Center on Innovations in Learning. With WestED (located in San Francisco, CA), ADI established a Center on School Turnaround, and with Edvance Research (owned by Westat in Rockville, MD) it launched the Building State Capacity and Productivity Center. Also in 2012, ADI was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Education to work with the State of Idaho and the Nez Perce tribe; this project was based on ADIís several years of work with the Bureau of Indian Education and its schools in 23 states. This storm of focused work continues to flourish, and ADIís network of collaborators and friends grows.

ADIís emerging and ongoing work focuses on three areas of research and practice: (1) the school as a community, including family engagement; (2) personal competencies that propel student learning; and (3) the dynamics of change. In each of these topical realms, ADI takes a systems approach, integrating parts to create highly functioning wholes, and puts its considerable ingenuity at the service of its clients.

ADI has a small local staff of professionals drawing from the Lincoln area, but a larger network of hundreds of partners and contributors in the fifty states. The casual visitor to Lincoln might not discover close to the Courthouse the small doorway on Kickapoo that leads to the ADIís offices, but the residents of Lincoln should know how a small team in their community serve the needs of students, teachers, and parents around the nation (and run a superb gift shop, Prairie Years, too).


Read all the articles in our new
2017 Education Magazine

Introduction:  Massive transitions in education 4
STEM:  Academics and practical experiences inspire students 7
First grade can be fun while building dexterity, practical concepts, language and technology skills 8
NH-M 88:  Moving to the 'Maker Movement' 10
The future is now! 14
Students explore 'Food Safety' 19
New Renewable Energy course a practical fit for Logan County Students 21
New Forensics class will spark greater interest in the sciences 24
Great teachers:  Kathy Stoyak and her work with the LCHS Foreign Language Department 26
Not for everybody:  A home-schooling primer for the rest of us 30
The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) brings summer STEM Enrichment Programs to Springfield 39
ADI provides national leadership in education 42
Financing a college education 46


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