Accomplishments resulting from Panhandle Twenty/20’s
actions to improve Educational Attainment
In 2006, the board of Panhandle Twenty/20 launched a community study focused
on improving the low levels of educational attainment in our region.
• While Texas was (and still is) last in the number of adults with a high school diploma, our area’s numbers were lower.
• One in four adults in our region had no high school diploma; and in the rural regions, one in three had never graduated from high school.
• The region’s level of advanced degrees was also low.
To be a community that could attract businesses that offered high-paying jobs, these statistics clearly needed to improve.
To create the necessary change, Panhandle Twenty/20 engaged the community around the new study, The Economic Implications of Educational Attainment.
Implementation efforts continued from 2007 to the present, most of those actions having been taken over by institutions in the community.
A few of the most notable results of the Panhandle Twenty/20 study on the economic implications of educational attainment include:
The Texas Panhandle P-16 Council—whose mission is to promote success across the education continuum so students will grow to be successful citizens, professionals, and life-long learners. This dynamic organization, with organizational support from Region 16, has brought together powerful community leaders who can more readily create systemic changes deemed necessary in our educational institutions. Already, the TPP16 Council has garnered a “We Inspire”grant through WTAMU to continue aligning High School and Higher Ed Core Curriculum activities, following two regional meetings to decrease the numbers of students taking developmental classes in college. These and additional efforts of the Texas Panhandle P-16 Council will continue to improve student transition between High School and College, creating greater success for those students.
Pursuing Real Opportunities, or PRO—whose mission is to develop a qualified workforce for Amarillo and region to sustain a vibrant economy. PRO is a
community-wide initiative to develop a higher-skilled local workforce and is a collaboration of Amarillo Economic Development Corporation, Amarillo
Independent School District and Amarillo College. PRO actively targets industries that currently have the greatest workforce needs and works with Amarillo ISD, Amarillo College, and now Canyon ISD to connect students with businesses for meaningful real-world experiences through internships and partnerships.
Celebrate Education—A community partnership designed to increase awareness to the need for educational attainment and to develop and facilitate solutions for this issue. To reach this goal, the Globe-News, in conjunction with strong community partnerships, published a number of special features focusing on individuals who credit their success in life to their education (Profiles of Success); profiled companies chronicling their efforts to help employees reach their educational goals (A Helping Hand) and coordinated a meeting of more than 50 CEOs of Amarillo area companies seeking their input into the issue of educational attainment.
Concerted Efforts of Amarillo ISD—Amarillo ISD has actively sought ways to improve student success, and several of the many responses to P2020’s study and their related mission statement are listed below:
• Career Explorations Class established for AISD 7th graders
• Exploration of Combined Career Campus with AC & AISD/Great Schools by Design Award
• Diplomas & Certificates (DAC) Program with AC & AISD
• Expansion of ACE Program
• Expansion of community-based preschools
• Ready for the Real World–AISD Program for all Juniors (created before release of P2020 study report)
• R U Job Work?–AISD month-long focus for all HS students
• No Excuses University expansion from San Jacinto Elementary to six additional campuses
• Instructional Improvement through such programs as Differentiated Instruction, Professional Learning Communities, and Lesson Study (some of this was under development prior to study release)
• Book study of The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner by AISD Board and Executive Leadership
Examples of Community Actions Related to Improving Educational Attainment:
• No Excuses University, which first blossomed at San Jacinto Elementary under the leadership of Principal Doug Curry, has expanded to six additional AISD campuses this year. Other campuses are using a variety of approaches to create a culture of expectation for higher education for their students as well.
• The expansion of the ACE Program of the Amarillo Area Foundation to three more elementary feeders schools of Tascosa High School will improve access to higher education for more students in low-socioeconomic neighborhoods.
• Cafés con Leche, a combined effort of dedicated community volunteers (many of whom were very active in the study on educational attainment), Glenwood Elementary, Amarillo College, West Texas A&M University, and the Hispanic Chamber, provides an exciting and promising model of creating educational attainment success to neighborhood families by partnering with the community.