Why we are here today
At bravEd's core is a commitment to public schooling and an intense dislike for the inaccurate narrative of failure that colors the way our public schools are often perceived.
bravEd (we say it brave-ed) was originally founded in 2009 as Test Sense with the clear intent of finding a way to create a new, more accurate, more truthful narrative. The decade and a half since has been a rollercoaster, with lows that included lots of self-doubt and an overwhelming sense of what we were up against, and highs that saw more and more educational leaders in more and more states actively moving towards a better accountability.
By 2019 it was clear that having the word "test" in the name wasn't necessary. In 2009 we still felt the need to rebel against the corrupted use of a research instrument being used well beyond its design. But by 2019 we had moved past that need to an entirely new set of theories for what accountability actually is, how it functions in effective organizations, and how schools should do it to maximize their effectiveness. The fact that the word "test" was in our name felt anachronistic, as we were well past the mistake of equating educational accountability with testing.
When we realized that our vision was transformative--even revolutionary--bravEd was born. In it is the idea that we must be bold in our refusal to allow bureaucracy or bad policy get in the way of an effective school, and yet those bureaucracies and policies are still powerful forces we must constantly overcome.
In bravEd is also the idea that critiquing a bad system without a replacement is unhelpful. But how do you build a meaningful educational accountability? How do you convert to it once it is built? And how do you do all that in the face of bureaucracies and policies that are likely to create competing narratives?
In that light the Ed in our name is very much us taking our hats off to the educators who do this work, who put the Benefits-Based Accountability Frameworks in place to the immense benefit of the students they serve, even in the face of pressure to do otherwise. The narratives they are creating are powerful, compelling, and honest. They reveal more about the direction and work within a school than has ever before been known, and do it is a way that makes sense to parents and communities.
It is my sincere hope that one day bravEd itself will become anachronistic. That will be the day when a true narrative about the effectiveness of schools is commonplace, when policy is aligned with the long-term needs of America's students, and the public school is properly viewed by all as a pillar within its community.
But until then we'll be right here. Helping schools account for what they do best..