March 2013

March 2013


Program Associate Position:

AYPF is seeking to hire a Program Associate to assist in the development of various AYPF learning events and products, including forums, study tours, webinars, and publications. Program Associates work on a range of education and youth policy issues depending on current grant projects, including promoting comprehensive community-wide services and supports for youth; aligning K-12 education, postsecondary education, workforce, and youth systems; defining better approaches to learning; and using data effectively.

The Program Associate will assist in organizing learning events for national and state policymakers. This will entail conducting research on effective and innovative programs and policies, identifying potential topics and speakers for the events, interfacing with the speakers to help design the content of the event, helping to organize the event (with the support of the AYPF operations team), and conducting follow-up activities. The Program Associate will also provide support on a range of grants that address various educational and youth topics and will provide content support to senior staff as needed. The Program Associate will also write a range of reports, summaries, and documents. The Program Associate will work on these tasks under the supervision of senior staff, but will ultimately report to the Executive Director.  The position requires limited travel.


  • Experience in the field of education research and/or policy, ideally with a focus on college and career readiness and success, middle and high school reform strategies, and/or youth development.
  • Knowledge of and experience in analyzing and interpreting qualitative and quantitative research and methodologies. Ability to summarize research and evaluative reports clearly and concisely.
  • Excellent writing, communication, critical thinking, and analytical skills, notably an ability to communicate complex information clearly to a policymaking audience.
  • Ability to work independently and part of a team as appropriate to the work.
  • Highly organized, detail-oriented, dedicated, responsible, and flexible.
  • Master’s degree in education, education research, or public policy preferred.

AYPF offers generous benefits and a small, congenial work environment. EOE/AA. Salary Range:  Based on experience.  Please upload resume, cover letter indicating salary requirements, writing sample, and complete list of three references here by March 29, 2013.


Capitol Hill Forum – The Use of Research within State Education Agencies, Friday, March 22, 2013, 12:00-1:30 p.m.

As education policy decisions shift to the state level, State Education Agencies are well positioned to use high quality research in policy and practice decisions. They also play a critical role in supporting the use of research-based practices among a wide range of stakeholders. This forum will share findings from recent research, funded by the W.T. Grant Foundation, on how research is used to inform policy and practice decisions within State Education Agencies. Dr. Margaret Goertz, Professor of Education Policy, University of Pennsylvania and Co-Director of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, will discuss how staff in State Education Agencies access, interpret, and use research to inform their work and how external partners support the dissemination of research within the agency. Carrie Conaway, Commissioner for Planning, Research, and Delivery Systems, Massachusetts Department of Education, will discuss how research was shared within the State Education Agency and how staff incorporated external research organizations when capacity within state agencies was insufficient. Jennifer Davis, Research Director, Innovation Lab Network, Council of Chief State School Officers, will examine how research partnerships can be scaled up and external organizations can promote the development of social networks within state agencies to encourage the use of research-based practices.

Webinar – Helping Students with Disabilities Transition to College and Careers, Monday, March 25, 2013, 1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT

Research and experience point to the importance of high quality transition services in preparing students with disabilities for college, careers, and other positive post-school outcomes, and this webinar will highlight research, policies, and programs that have helped students with disabilities transition successfully. Presenters will include Dr. Michael Wehmeyer, Professor, Department of Special Education, University of Kansas, who has been a leader in issues of self-determination, transition, access to the general education curriculum for students with severe disabilities, and technology use by people with cognitive disabilities; Johnny Collett, Office of Next Generation Learning, Division of Learning Services, Kentucky Department of Education, who will discuss how the Kentucky education offices have reorganized to ensure that students with disabilities are fully integrated into their efforts to improve college and career readiness; and Allison Chase, Florida State Director of High School High Tech, a program that provides high school students with all types of disabilities the opportunity to explore jobs or postsecondary education leading to technology-related careers and links them to a broad range of academic, career development and experiential resources and experiences that will enable them to meet the demands of the 21st century workforce.


Please visit our YouTube channel at for video clips of events, interviews and more

Forum Brief – Districts’ Use of Research to Support Struggling Schools, February 4, 2013

The demand for research-based practices in education and youth development has increased over time as access to rich and rigorous data has become available. The No Child Left Behind Act and other legislation have gone as far as to mandate the use of practices supported by research and billions of dollars are spent on research in the social sciences—yet much of this high-quality research has not made it into the hands of practitioners working to improve our nation’s schools. There is an emerging body of evidence arguing that simply conducting rigorous research is not nearly enough. Diverse education stakeholders define, access, interpret, and use research very differently. We must target research to the needs of specific stakeholders and encourage collaboration among researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to ensure that research is able to inform policy and practice.

At this forum, presenters discussed how research has been used in schools and districts. Researchers Alan J. Daly, University of California, San Diego and Kara S. Finnigan, University of Rochester, discussed how educators define, use and diffuse research evidence and the importance of social networks in mediating and disseminating evidence. Superintendent Joshua Starr of Montgomery County Public Schools and Ron Rode, the Executive Director of Accountability in San Diego Unified School District, discussed how this research is being used to support policy and practice in their districts, as well as the larger policy context.

Forum Brief – Fostering College and Career Readiness through Afterschool and Expanded Learning Opportunities, February 8, 2013

This forum highlighted programs and policy efforts that are helping students strengthen the knowledge and skills needed to prepare for college and careers through learning opportunities that occur beyond the school day.  The Indiana Statewide Afterschool Network, in collaboration with the Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana Commission on Higher Education, has made college and career readiness an explicit aim in its statewide efforts through the development of college and career readiness afterschool standards and other tools to help afterschool programs across the state.  The Starfish Initiative, in Indianapolis, Indiana, provides four years of support to promising low-income students through programming that includes dedicated mentors, college campus visits and college and career readiness assessments. Ninety eight percent of Starfish program participants go on to college. After School Matters, in Chicago, Illinois, provides project-based apprenticeship opportunities for public high school students through a network of public-private partnerships that enable students to gain valuable career exposure and skill development. Research has shown After School Matters participants to have lower incidence of problem behaviors, a stronger sense of connection to school, and a higher perceived value of school and academics compared to their peers.  Presenters discussed the programming and policy efforts that have led to positive student outcomes in their states and communities, highlighted the valuable role that afterschool and expanded learning stakeholders can play in supporting college and career readiness initiatives, and addressed policies and systems that supported or hindered their success.

Presenters included Debbie Zipes, Executive Director, Indiana Afterschool Network; Robert Kizer, President and CEO, Starfish Initiative; and Mary Ellen Caron, CEO of After School Matters.

Forum Brief – The Use of Individualized Learning Plans to Help Students to be College and Career Ready, February 15, 2013

Preparing for college and careers requires far more than rigorous academic content. College and career exploration and planning activities can play a beneficial role in personalizing learning, engaging students, and preparing them for life beyond school. AYPF partnered with the Institute for Educational Leadership’s Center for Workforce Development to present the findings of the Center’s research on the use of Individualized Learning Plans (ILP), which provide middle school and high school students with a tool to define their personal interests, goals, and course choices through postsecondary education and careers. Many states have adopted policies that require the use of ILPs and research is starting to show the benefits.

The Center for Workforce Development has conducted longitudinal research, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, to assess the effectiveness of ILPs, and it implemented a demonstration project to better understand their impact on post-school outcomes. Presenters summarized the research findings and discuss practitioners’ and policymakers’ experiences implementing and scaling up the use of ILPs. Presenters included Dr. Terry Holliday, Kentucky Commissioner of Education, Joan Wills, Senior Policy Fellow, Center for Workforce Development, Institute for Educational Leadership, and Dr. Scott Solberg, Associate Dean of Research, Boston University.

Conference Resources – Better Together: Building Local Systems to Improve Afterschool, February 21-22, 2013

AYPF recently worked alongside The Wallace Foundation as a lead sponsor to bring afterschool stakeholders across the country together for “Better Together: Building Local Systems to Improve Afterschool,” a conference on February 21-22, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland, which focused on developing city-wide afterschool systems to improve afterschool programming. The Wallace Foundation, AYPF, and additional conference partners, the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems, Forum for Youth Investment, and National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education, and Families aimed to share best practices learned to-date from the growing research base along with the benefits and implementation issues of building quality afterschool systems. It was also an opportunity to advance system-building efforts in local communities and to develop relationships across cities engaged in such efforts. The conference was a great success with 57 cities represented and over 350 attendees present to discuss best practices in afterschool system-building. For resources related to the conference, including videos, PowerPoints, links to relevant materials, and information on specific sessions, see the Wallace Conference site.

Video Recording – Moving to Mastery: A National Policy Forum on Competency-Based Education, March 1, 2013

This National Policy Forum on K-12 competency-based education, co-sponsored by CompetencyWorks and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, highlighted important research, policy trends, and issues for advancing competency-based education. The forum showcased experts from leading state and district efforts to transform K-12 student learning using competency-based education and discussed federal policy issues and recommendations for the United States.

Leading countries internationally have built education systems based on a competency-based education approach, not seat-time as we do in the United States. Now, innovative states and school districts around the country are beginning to challenge the time-based educational system that has been in place for decades by moving to a competency-based education approach of their own. Thirty-six states have policies providing flexibility for competency-based education.

Competency-based education requires rethinking the time-based system of accountability and assessment in favor of robust student-centered approaches.  It provides loads of data on students meeting competencies in real-time to improve accountability, new systems of assessments, and is centered on improving student learning outcomes. This approach allows for stronger personalization and student-centered learning, including ensuring all students succeed in building college and career readiness, consistent with recently adopted Common Core standards; taking advantage of the extraordinary technological advances in online learning; allowing students to learn at their own pace, any time and everywhere; and providing greater flexibility for students that might not otherwise graduate from high school.

Speakers included Susan Patrick, President and CEO, International Association of K-12 Online Learning; Chris Sturgis, President, MetisNet; Paul Leather, Deputy Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Education; and Virgel Hammonds, Superintendent, RSU 2 School District, Maine.

Click here to find all briefs and reports

Click here to view all AYPF publications


Check these out – recommended reading from the AYPF staff

Readiness Matters: The Impact of College Readiness on College Persistence and Degree Completion ACT

This report is ACT’s most recent research on the importance of college readiness for persisting in college to timely degree completion. This study is based on a nationally representative random sample of ACT-tested high school graduates who immediately enrolled in either a two- or four-year postsecondary institution after high school and were tracked for seven years. In determining a student’s chances of college success, this report helps answer the following questions: does the level of academic preparation in high school really matter; does early monitoring of college readiness make a difference; what impact does college readiness have on reducing gaps in college degree completion among underrepresented populations; and what impact would greater college readiness have on the number of high school graduates enrolling in and completing college.

Improving College Readiness in the Age of the Common Core MDRC

Too many students enter college underprepared, drop out, and never earn a credential that would give them access to stable, well-paid jobs. Part of MDRC’s “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo describes promising college readiness programs that can provide students with the skills they need to successfully complete college, but cautions that more evidence is needed.

Reforming Underperforming High Schools MDRC

Urban high schools are in trouble — high dropout rates, low student achievement, and graduates who are unprepared for the world of work are just some of the disappointing indicators. However, this policy memo, part of MDRC’s “Looking Forward” series, explains how recent research has uncovered a number of approaches to improving student outcomes and reforming underperforming schools.

CTE’s Role in Leadership Development Association for Career and Technical Education

When employers are asked to choose which skills are most needed in today’s workplace, key employability skills such as leadership often rise to the top of the list. Thirty-nine percent of human resource professionals in a recent survey reported that job applicants in their industry have leadership skills gaps, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. This issue brief takes a critical look at the opportunities through career and technical education (CTE) for students to prepare for the workforce by developing leadership skills. CTE courses often involve teamwork and project-based learning, which provide ideal opportunities for students to learn, observe, and apply leadership in work-related situations in preparation for their future careers. Programs such as the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) and Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSOs) also provide career-related learning opportunities as part of CTE.

Working Hard—and Working Well David E.K. Hunter

In his new publication, David Hunter provides a practical guide to developing the discipline and culture of performance management. Having provided guidance to numerous non-profits and youth-serving organizations in the development of a comprehensive Theory of Change, Dr. Hunter outlines the key components of an effective system to create positive outcomes for these organizations. In the book, he decodes and defangs performance management, providing history, context, guidance, exercises, and tools for those who wish to move their organizations toward high performance but don’t know how to go about doing so.

Creating a Faculty Culture of Student Success The Aspen Institute

This guide describes how leading community colleges have created cultures in which faculty members consistently work to reform and improve their teaching in ways that measurably improve student learning. It provides a look at innovative approaches, including the unusual tenure process at Valencia College –  winner of the 2011 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence – which is built around a system that requires faculty members to use data and experiment with their own teaching in ways that will improve student learning and supports them along the way.

Foster Youth and the Workforce: Next Steps Center for an Urban Future

Roughly half of the young people who have aged out of NYC’s foster care system are not employed. This new policy brief from the Center for an Urban Future outlines a handful of achievable recommendations for putting foster youth on the path to careers and productive lives.


The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels.

AYPF events and publications are made possible by a consortium of philanthropic foundations: Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationWilliam T. Grant Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundationand others.

Special Announcement: Employment Opportunity

Upcoming Events

AYPF Publications and Resources

Recommended Reading and Resources