Creating PAVE’s Annual Report

By Michelle Burmeister, Communications Director

PAVE’s annual report captures a moment in time during the evolution of our organization and tells the stories of dedicated Partner Schools that are continuously striving to improve the lives of Milwaukee’s children. When read in sequence, PAVE’s reports from the last four years show that we’ve been adapting to the complex education challenges and opportunities in our city by working with more schools and introducing the Board Corps program to meet critical needs of effective board governance and leadership.

For the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to lead a creative freelance team through the process of writing and designing the annual report and it’s been less of an exercise in reporting PAVE’s financial data, and more an investment in our Partner Schools.

PAVE Milwaukee Annual Report Covers

In each report our schools are transformed into more than a name, location and test results – we’ve aimed to get at the heart of the school and share its vision and mission with our audiences. We talk to school leaders, board members, teachers, students and the like to present a holistic view of the school and highlight its importance and progress in making a difference in the lives of students. Each school is so unique in its culture and approach and to see some of them side-by-side shows that high-potential schools come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve recently added videos that take these stories to another level and bring the energy and determination of the students to life.

In the 2013 Annual Report we not only tell the stories of three Partner Schools – St. Joan Antida, Milwaukee Collegiate Academy and LUMIN – through the book and videos, but we also developed a video to explain and share the tremendous progress of PAVE’s Board Corps. You may view a PDF flip version of the printed report and all four videos here (make sure to scroll down the page). And, our Board Corps video is below…

And, I’ll admit it, the school videos often bring tears to my eyes. It’s inspiring and an honor to work with these passionate schools. Any organizations that you’ve come across who produce a particularly compelling annual report?

Common Core Standards – What They Are, What They’re All About

By Dave Steele, Director of School Partnerships

The debate over the Common Core standards, and what they mean for American K-12 education, may seem like a recent phenomenon. But, the hard work of shifting curriculum, instruction and assessments to meet the new standards (the complex process known as “Common Core implementation”) has been happening under the public’s radar screen for the past few years. Among those who do the day-to-day work of educating students, the Common Core themselves are a given, and the work to realign schools to meet the standards is the focus. Among the public at large, however, there is widespread confusion about what the Common Core standards are and what they represent. This excellent article by Erin Richards in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel from March 4, 2014, does a great job separating fact from fiction. 

Fact vs Fiction

All schools in Wisconsin, including PAVE Partner Schools, have been working on shifting to the Common Core since their adoption about three years ago. The shift in curriculum, instruction and assessments to meet the Common Core standards has been a primary focus of fellow school support organization Schools that Can Milwaukee, and PAVE has worked with school leaders and boards of directors to understand the impact of the standards on schools’ planning and budgeting. Our work in this area goes back to 2011, when we were invited to meet with the national authors of the Common Core at a small gathering of education leaders assembled by the GE Foundation.

In simplest terms, the Common Core standards mean that schools will be expected to teach and assess how well students are able to think critically. Rather than recite facts by memorization, students will be asked to explain how they arrived at their answers. This is a huge shift in how kids are taught and tested, and represents a “generational moment” in K-12 education.

Want to dig deeper? Here is information about Common Core State Standards from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.