Op-ed: ‘Promise Partnership’ is producing real results

January 16, 2016
Author: Martin Bates and Mark Bouchard

Last year, the 37 businesses, government institutions, faith groups, non-profits, school districts and institutions of higher education that comprise the Promise Partnership Regional Council told you about our early efforts to achieve results for the 370,700 children in our four-school district region. This week, we are releasing the second chapter of our story, which tells of a tremendous opportunity: the opportunity to work collectively to support each of Utah's children from birth to career.

Nearly one in three of Utah's children live in the Promise Partnership Region, and "Results Matter: The 2016 Results Report of the Promise Partnership Regional Council" describes how we are working together differently so that every child in our region can reach eight crucial milestones.

It celebrates changes that are possible when we put data, children and outcomes at the center of our work and when we challenge ourselves to move from talk to action. The report calls attention to where startling inequities persist and it challenges each of us to align our state's many related education, health, and family financial stability efforts in mutually reinforcing ways.

By working together differently over the past year, the aligned contributions of PPRC members are beginning to improve outcomes for our children. In our four-district region:

• Kindergarten readiness is up 2 percentage points for low-income students and 1 percentage point for minority students

• Third grade reading is up 5 percentage points for English language learners

• Eighth grade math is up 3 percentage points for all students, as well as for low-income and minority students

• High school graduation is up 8 percentage points for English language learners, 3 percentage points for minority students, and 2 percentage points for all students.

Our report card also reveals areas where inequities persist and where we must continue to rally as a community to improve opportunities for our children. The percentage of individuals with a regular place for medical care is unchanged. The percentage of English language learners and minority students who are ready for college is down. The percentage of all and minority third graders reading on grade level is unchanged. Opportunity gaps for English language learners, low-income students and students of color are glaring and, in some cases, growing.

Our report also describes local successes in schools and communities and tells the stories of some of the amazing individuals who live in our region. It provides an update on the work of our collaborative action networks, which join the public and private sectors to focus on increasing the number of students who start kindergarten ready to learn, improving early grade literacy, preparing more students to enter college and decreasing the number of students switching schools mid-year.

The report describes the outcomes-focused work in five "place-based" partnerships — Clearfield, Kearns, Park City, South Salt Lake and West Valley — and in a new, equally vibrant community partnership in Midvale. These communities help us confirm the impact of working together in a new way and help us to understand how in the future we might create aligned efforts in more communities.

As a community, we have vast resources. We know that we cannot achieve the results that our children deserve without uniting around a shared vision, identifying what gets results for kids, communicating honestly, bringing new voices to the conversation and refocusing our priorities around shared goals. We invite you join us in continuing to strive for even greater impact. Please visit www.uw.org/PromiseReport to share your expertise, ideas, and energy.

Dr. Martin Bates is superintendent of Granite School District. Mark Bouchard is senior managing director of CBRE. They are co-­chairs of Promise Partnership Regional Council, which has made a promise to help all children in Canyons, Davis, Granite, and Park City school districts to be successful in school and in life, from birth to career.