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The Lincy Institute

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Las Vegas, NV

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Since the 1980s, the standards and accountability movement in U.S. education has focused heavily on reform at the classroom and school level, with insufficient regard for how social, political, and community contexts impact student learning and achievement (Berliner, 2006; Horsford, 2010; Noguera, 2003; Oakes, 1989; Wells et al., 2004). This emphasis on standardization and high-stakes testing has stigmatized, and in many instances, penalized low-income and historically underserved students and communities through the use of student subgroup and school designations. It also largely has ignored the research literature documenting the significant impact poverty, neighborhood context, and related out-of-school factors such as housing, food security, health care, and family supports have on student learning and achievement (See Anyon, 1997; Berliner, 2006; Kozol, 1991; Noguera, 2003; Oakes, 1989).

At the federal level, policy efforts intended to equalize educational opportunities, whether through school desegregation in the 1960s and 1970s, effective schools programs in the 1980s, or most recently, No Child Left Behind, have failed to acknowledge as Berliner (2006) noted, that “all educational efforts that focus on classrooms and schools, as does NCLB, could be reversed by family, could be negated by neighborhoods, and might well be subverted or minimized by what happens to children outside of school” (p. 951). While a number of federal programs have sought to mitigate the negative impacts of poverty and segregation on urban education (i.e., Title I, Magnet Schools Assistance), on April 30, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement launched its Promise Neighborhoods program and described it as “the first federal initiative to put education at the center of comprehensive efforts to fight poverty in urban and rural areas” (U.S. Department of Education, 2011).

This report by The Lincy Institute examines the renewed interest in neighborhood-scale education reform as demonstrated by the Promise Neighborhoods program and its implications for education reform in Southern Nevada. More specifically, it offers a brief overview of Promise Neighborhoods, description of the original Las Vegas Promise Neighborhood planning grant application, and discussion of the collaborative activity that LVPN partners have engaged in since to advance the coordinated provision of community-based supports for school success. This report seeks to illustrate how and why the Las Vegas Promise Neighborhood Initiative, and other neighborhood-based education reform efforts hold “promise” for school improvement and success in Southern Nevada. The next section offers a brief overview of Promise Neighborhoods, followed by a description of local efforts in Las Vegas.


Education; Education--Standards; Educational change; Standardization


Education | Education Policy | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social Welfare

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