GSD: Getting Stuff Done

At Education First, we hold ourselves to very high standards for delivering high-quality and practical advice and materials for leading P20 education organizations and systems. “Getting Stuff Done” is one of our core values.

I know you’re thinking right now “Another blog? Really?” That’s what I would think. Trust me: Our twice-monthly blog will be worth your time.

Education First is dedicated to closing race- and income-based achievement gaps so that every child educated in the United States can succeed. Our mission-driven consultants strive to equip educators and leaders with exceptional ideas, insights and results. We focus on work that helps students and educators succeed: college & career ready teaching & learning strategy, pathways for student success, educator preparation, strategic hiring & retention, teacher leadership, accountability, flexibility & support and resource allocation—to name a few.

So why would we take time away from supporting organizations to solve difficult problems to put out blog posts? We’ve learned a lot – and produced a slew of tools and information – from our 9 years of GSDing with school system leaders, state policymakers, funders and advocates.

We are launching “Getting Stuff Done” to share these tools and our perspectives more broadly with the field. We’ve revamped our website and now have a searchable Resource Library so you, dear readers from other districts, states, foundations and nonprofits, can easily access and reuse these tools.

Here’s what you won’t find in our blog:

  • Interesting ideas that are just opinions because they’re not backed up with practical examples.
  • Bomb-throwing commentary that generates attention without advancing the dialogue.
  • Viewpoints that are pigeon-holed by politics or historical reform alliances.
  • Nice stories of a single school, district or institution that accomplished an important change, without accompanying how-to advice and materials that you can adapt in your community.

Here’s what you will find: Practical advice on timely issues—along with relevant resources for action created by us and many of your organizations. For example:

  • Coming November 17, our 10-step advice for all states and districts to keep advancing implementation of college- and career ready standards, assessments, educator development and evaluation and new school models in the post-Race to the Top world.
  • Practical advice and tools from five school districts that have transformed educator evaluation from a compliance exercise to systems that nurture continuous improvement, honest and trusted feedback and real teacher development.
  • Tips and real tools to improve classroom, interim and summative assessments. On deck: Communications advice and materials to connect with parents about Common Core’s higher expectations and assessments. A video-based toolkit designed to help teachers create and use classroom-based assessments.
  • We’re also excited to release the “Fewer and Better Local Assessments” toolkit—which includes a roadmap for districts, a new rubric for educators to review assessments that we co-developed with Achievement Network, and adaptable plug-and-play tools to help school system leaders streamline local testing.

I hope you’ll take 10 minutes now to read our first few posts and share your feedback with me ( or @jennvranek). Follow us on Twitter to see what’s on our minds each day, and check back here every two weeks for another blog post. Also share resources we should know about and other topics we should explore that can help other district, state and national education leaders.

We’re committed to supporting educators, policymakers, advocates and funders with our direct service and with the resources and advice in this blog and our website.

Together, we can enable high-quality teaching and better opportunities for our nation’s neediest children. After, all, isn’t that what GSD is all about?

Jenn Vranek, Founding Partner

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