District Initiatives

In order to ensure that all American students are graduating globally competence and college ready, we need to work to affect systemic change. We believe that districts are a particularly powerful entry point for driving system change as the productive, practical exchange of ideas to address common problems in education takes place at this level, as does the greatest opportunity for implementation.

In order to affect the change that we want to see in US education, several of our initiatives work to change district-level policy and practice.

Much of our work at the district level centers around The Graduation Performance System (GPS), which is and Asia Society developed performance assessment system designed to drive curriculum, assessment, and instructional practices in secondary schools to produce students who are ready for college as well as globally competent: prepared for work and citizenship in the 21st century global economic and civic environment.

International Studies Schools Network

We have piloted and refined the Graduation Performance System – our model and method of instruction and assessment –  in the International Studies Schools Network. This network serves as our laboratory and is a model of school reform in action.low-income families. This network was founded in 2008 with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Asia Society’s International Studies Schools Network (ISSN) is a network of 33 secondary schools located in 8 states (NY, CA, NC, IL, CO, TX, OH, and ME) that act as models for school reform while preparing over 16,000 predominantly low-income and minority students for college and career in a globalized world. Most are urban public high schools, but the network also includes several elementary schools, charter schools, suburban and rural schools.

Asia Society established the ISSN to respond to two intertwined imperatives facing American education:

  1. The chronic problem of persistently poor academic performance among low income and minority students.
  2. The need to prepare students for work and civic roles in a globalized environment, where success increasingly requires the ability to compete, connect, and cooperate on an international scale.

The ISSN serves a diverse population of students, 73% of which are minority and 63% coming from low-income families. In 2011, ISSN schools had a graduation rate of 89% compared with the national average of 78%.

Mastery-Based Systems

The value of mastery or proficiency-based grading systems is widely accepted. Educators and school systems throughout the country are striving to integrate and utilize these exciting new policies and teaching strategies. We are working with several schools within our International Studies Schools Network to learn how to utilize the Graduation Performance System (GPS) as the foundation for a competency-based system.

Learn more