What Does WestEd Really Do?
A transcript of WestEd's animated flash video
Since our organization WestEd does such a wide variety of work, we are often asked to describe the agency in concrete terms. We could start by saying that WestEd's mission is to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning. But that's pretty abstract. You might ask what do we really do.
WestEd's staff work to improve conditions throughout our society. But perhaps the first place to look is in the school. After all, we have been working in education for 40 years. Teachers like this one are facing enormous challenges. Most have classrooms that are full of children with a wide range of skills coming from very different backgrounds. Some students may not speak English. Others may require special education programs. How can this teacher make a real difference for each child?
WestEd develops programs, approaches, and products that help all kinds of teachers succeed with all kinds of students; students who struggle with English or reading or science and mathematics. We have worked with thousands of teachers who in turn have helped hundreds of thousands of students across the United States and beyond. Our goal always is to help promote excellence and equity for each student.
WestEd also works with school and district administrators. This school superintendent wants to boost learning in her schools. She believes that her district school improvement program is generally on track but she needs more information about exactly what is working, what needs to be changed, and how to make those changes.
WestEd's staff help superintendents like her understand how their schools are performing. We conduct our own research and we call on research done by others in many academic disciplines. WestEd gives administrators, parents, and teachers the information and tools they need to more effectively carry out their school improvement plans. So if WestEd is doing all this work, you may wonder why you haven't seen our logo on school buildings or principal's doors.
It is not our job to take over schools and districts. Our job is to work as a resource or partner with those who meet the needs of students each day. And not just students. WestEd works with families and communities as well because we know learning happens and should happen well beyond the walls of the classroom. WestEd provides and supports numerous social services that promote safe, drug-free, healthy environments for families, especially those in lower-income communities. Our work in early childhood education is internationally recognized and has helped caregivers and parents raise healthy, happy, thriving children over several decades. Our products and services are used by thousands of childcare centers and community groups and sometimes even shape national policy.
Local, state and federal policymakers also share WestEd's concerns. All are looking for better ways of helping children and adults in their communities. State senators like this one have many questions. How can more high school students pass graduation exams? How can they move on to higher education or find productive employment? How can they contribute to a better future? Legislators need sound information to inform their decisions and to ensure that new policy, when implemented, will achieve its intended goals. WestEd offers them access to the best research and to the most effective practices. We offer guidance and support. We give policymakers the information they need to make a positive impact.
The range of WestEd activities and influence is enormous, from the daycare center in classroom to the district office, the courthouse and to the floors of Congress. When we say that WestEd's mission is to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning and education and human development, what we really mean is that we work every day with people like you to make a difference in the lives of children and adults.