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Posts: 122
Reply with quote  #1 
On page 175 (chapter 4, section 8 "Closing the Gap"), Nelson states that the OneGoal program "...regularly turns underperforming, undermotivated, low-income teenagers into successful college students." 
What are your thoughts on programs like OneGoal and Tools of the Mind? Do you feel they are effective? Why or why not? 

Maggie Susong
ATPE Member Engagement Coordinator

Posts: 19
Reply with quote  #2 
The OneGoal program is similar to KIPP, an experiment designed to increase the academic success of low-income, underperforming students. OneGoal emphasizes the individual skills high schoolers need to prepare themselves for college admission and college success.  From the data reported in the book, I don't think the validation of OneGoal's success is substantial enough to measure how successful it is. I think results from a longer period of time for each cohort is needed.

Intuitively, it would seem that a skills-based intervention would benefit all at-risk students. OneGoal appears to implement a carefully crafted program based in part on, I think, Carol Dweck's "Growth Mind-Set". Based on her research, Dr. Dweck concluded that our brains can grow and learn skills throughout adulthood. In this aspect at least, I think that OneGoal is based on solid research and our experiences as teachers: every student and every teacher can learn. This is enough evidence to support the program.

Tamra M.
M/S H/S Math Teacher

Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #3 

Based on the results in the book, Nelson’s OneGoal program is effective and having success; however, there are no longevity studies and the students have not graduated from college or entered the job market yet.  I believe the three main elements of OneGoal (1. ACT prep junior year, 2. Road map to college with counselors, 3. Noncognitive academic skills – study skills, work habits, time management, help-seeking behavior and social/academic problem-solving skills) are certainly important.  It is pointed out on page 165 the ACT component might be serving two purposes: improve the scores and reinforce the growth mindset.  On page 162 the nonacademic skills needed are listed as resourcefulness, resilience, ambition, professionalism, integrity.  The noncognitivie/nonacademic skills are those that would support a higher GPA in high school which page 152 says is a far better predictor of college completion than ACT score.  My own three children would support the GPA data. 

I believe a strength of OneGoal is that it provides a community for the twenty-five students who have the same teacher for three years of high school who then keeps in close touch when they get to college.  Since page 150 states that the United States leads the world in college dropouts it seems that the importance of the freshman year, or “magical timeframe” as it is referred to on page 172, is crucial.  Another attribute of OneGoal is the handpicked teachers. Jeff Nelson’s sixth graders were progressing well and showing growth, but it didn’t necessarily carry over to 7th grade when he was no longer their teacher.


Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #4 
Nelson himself admits the OneGoal program is far from perfect, intimating that there is substantial room for improvement.  Having said that, his statistical evidence for the south side of Chicago is certainly admirable.  The success of the program appears to be the careful selection of students that are most at-risk of dropping out, those who choose to believe they can learn to be successful college students, and have the determination and grit to overcome failures to achieve their goal.  In addition, the selection of teachers who believe in the program's effectiveness and in the students, is imperative.  These types of programs are clearly effective, simply based on the statistical evidence of Nelson's program, as well as KIPP and other similar programs implemented in underperforming schools.  They are far from perfect, but to do without them altogether is unthinkable.  The future of our nation as a world power relies on the education of our entire population.  We cannot afford to continue to throw away a large segment of our society, falling further behind the educational systems of other, far smaller and less economically advantaged countries.
Rita Wilcox

Posts: 42
Reply with quote  #5 
On page 175 (chapter 4, section 8 "Closing the Gap"), Nelson states that the OneGoal program "...regularly turns underperforming, undermotivated, low-income teenagers into successful college students." 
What are your thoughts on programs like OneGoal and Tools of the Mind? Do you feel they are effective? Why or why not? 

I feel that anything that can help give students goals for after high school is effective.  I loved teaching my SAT prep class a few years ago because it gave me the flexibility to have students investigate different aspects of college to help them prepare for their future.  I even had a student thank me because he wouldn't have found his college without my course.  So many of our students aren't (for whatever reason) are not given this motivation at home.  I've seen it in my affluent students too - they really don't have plans for their future and want someone else to do the planning for them.  Then they become unhappy in the situation they are in because they weren't part of their future planning.  I know the UK boasts that they have one of the highest percentages of college students graduating in 4 years.  The US average is 5 years now.  I feel that one of these reasons is because they encourage a "gap year" for the student to work between their senior year and their first year of college education.  Only 26% of our nation is a college graduate now.  So I do not feel everyone needs to go to college, however, I wish all of our students had a plan- whether it be schooling, the military, or beginning a career.


Jennifer Goedken

Posts: 83
Reply with quote  #6 
I believe that the biggest strength of OneGoal is possibly the small community it creates. Students are able to grow as a group with a teacher who is committed to mentoring them through the beginning of college. I am a first generation college graduate, though my situation was much different than the stories of high poverty related in this book, and I remember that beginning college was a bit daunting. I had support at home, but I ended up choosing a smaller university that I felt I would not be lost in. It was reassuring to find several familiar faces in my classes each semester, and professors were readily available to us. No single program is likely to solve all issues related to closing the achievement gap. However, I can see this making great strides for those involved in it.

Posts: 94
Reply with quote  #7 

I believe the programs such as OneGoal and other similar ones can be successful because of the direct support given to the process of getting students into college and keeping them there through graduation.  For example:  I like that teachers who are already teaching at a particular school are hired to work in the OneGoal program.  These teachers have inside knowledge of which students to select.   A teacher will select 25 students for a class.  These students are selected based on the following:  25 students who likely don’t have the highest GPA (2.8 on average), but do have a desire to attend college, and willing to do the work to get there.  Also, they do not already have a college graduate in the family.  Then students are taught how to study for and improve their ACT scores.*  The program takes the student from sophomore in high school to setting foot on the college campus.   This includes detailed guidance for the selected students on how to accomplish the goal of attending and graduating from college.  The OneGoal classes generally meet one class period a day all the way through the senior year.  Another key part:  How to be highly effective people which includes teaching study skills, work habits, time management, help-seeking behavior, and social/academic problem-solving skills.   

*This from page 152:  “In fact, it turned out that, except at the most highly selective public universities, ACT scores revealed very little about whether or not a student would graduate from college.  The far better predictor of college completion was a student’s high-school GPA.  3.5 or higher.  In spite of this data, I do believe the OneGoal program and others like it can be successful because of the direct support they give to students.

On another note:  I read this article in the Dallas Morning News Sunday, August 9, 2015:  They’ve Lost Their Way, Ma, Ma, Ma (Raised by helicopter parents, student are immobilized in college) Julie Lythcott-Haims says.  Excerpted from “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success”  Here is the link:


Posts: 65
Reply with quote  #8 
Stastically, One Goal has proven itself to be a successful program. I don't think any one program is perfect for everybody- hence the need for charter schools, private schools, public schools, etc. However, One Goal provides an excellent educational program for the students in poverty it selects within the specified GPA range. It excels within this niche.

There are a few qualities that I think really help the One Goal program to be successful. The first of these is the hiring of qualified teachers. An outstanding teacher is priceless. They not only help with academics, but encourage well rounded success. I'm certain that the students who qualify for the One Goal program, not only need academic support, but also emotional support, social support, etc. These needs may go unmet without the help of a qualified teacher who can help in all areas of each student's life. Also, I think an excellent aspect of the program is the bridge between high school and college that it provides. I think that all students would benefit from this type of support. Entering into college is like entering into a whole different world of education. The last (and probably the biggest) aspect of the program that I think leads it to be a successful program, is the community of support that it provides. That is a unique aspect of the program, which I think is fabulous! There is nothing like the consistency of having the same teacher for consecutive years who is rooting for you, supporting you, and cheering you on educationally. I'm sure the students feel like part of a "club." This community of support, friendship, and encouragement, I am sure motivates them to do their very best!

Posts: 27
Reply with quote  #9 
On page 175 (chapter 4, section 8 "Closing the Gap"), Nelson states that the OneGoal program "...regularly turns underperforming, undermotivated, low-income teenagers into successful college students." 
What are your thoughts on programs like OneGoal and Tools of the Mind? Do you feel they are effective? Why or why not? 
I feel that programs such as this are effective as long as you have qualified and determined teachers who are dedicated to the students they will be working with and are in it for the long haul. (This program reminds me of AVID.) But, I agree with what many have stated already in that anything is better than nothing. I believe that students who have strong adversities in their life with little outside support need that from somewhere and someone and if there is a program that can assist with this, then by all means it should be implemented. Based on the individual stories such as Kewauna's, it seems that such programs are necessary and effective. I become frustrated when I hear about students being pushed aside due to their behavior, grades, etc...and no one really taking a look at the underlying problem or taking the initiative to delve deep into these student's lives to see what is really going on. They seem to be "just another statistic". I don't believe in that and this is just what Tough is writing and reporting about and why these programs have been created. However, I would like to see "all" teachers working with students in building character. More times than not over my 22-years of teaching, I have seen many students passed over to those who do take the initiative to work with struggling and often times difficult students as "someone else's problem". Students need to feel important by everyone they encounter within the education system. 

Sherry Ayres

Posts: 26
Reply with quote  #10 
The thoughts I have on this question is what is the value of helping students change their course in life. There isn't a "perfect program" that will magically help low income students to become college graduates. But Nelson is taking OneGoal and trying to make a difference. From the 129 students in the program 66% of them are still on the college road is a good statistic. Those students are going to make a difference in their community and eventually make a difference in the children they have by being more aware of how important education is and doing well elementary school will make it easier for them as they enter hight school and college.

The OneGoal program gave these students a community to help with the character traits spoken of earlier in the book. I think the support they received by having the same teachers in their lives was important. The students had someone who held them accountable and kept pushing them. That is important, if students have someone who beleives in them, they will work harder. I have not worked in the high school level, but working with kids in the elementary level, any positve remark about their work goes miles.

As far as being effective? Only time will tell on that. It is a new program, hopefully with the dedicated teachers that are involved in it, OneGoal will only get better and that 66% will go up. Now, do all students have to go to college, no. But they do need to find a purpose for themselves- military, trade school, job, As long as they are able to break they cycle from where they came from and are able to dig deep withing themselves they can be successful.


Posts: 63
Reply with quote  #11 

My thoughts on these programs such as OneGoal and Tools of the Mind are they can be quite effective.  After reading about Kewauna’s struggles and determination, these programs are what some children do need in helping them be successful in their future. The future though is where things get a bit blurry. The long term success has yet to be mapped out because Kewauna and the other students in these programs have not graduated or entered the job market. I would be very curious in reading any follow ups in a few years on the children and see where each one is in their life. 

One main component I liked about this program is the same teachers sticking with these students as they complete high school. A good majority of these students need someone who is a constant in their life and who they can depend on.



Posts: 89
Reply with quote  #12 

Before reading this book, I probably had a similar mindset of some of the people Tough conversed with while researching for his book (that not everyone is cut out for college and why are we pushing it on students so hard, when there are other significant opportunities like trade or technical schools).  After reading this book, I can see that some students really do want the opportunity to try college, but they often fail out because they are “mismatched” and the school is not the right fit for them.


The OneGoal program offers this advantage of matching the right school to each student.  I think all schools could improve on their higher education or career planning.  There are some great programs available at junior colleges and trade schools for students interested in pursuing mechanics, welding, cosmetology, etc, but it seems like these fields are not encouraged anymore, which is sad.  There is lots of opportunity out there, not just for college graduates.  It’s like our country is saying, you are a failure if you don’t have a college degree.  No one should feel that way, especially if you work hard and have a successful business or career.  Even the author struggled with this emotion. 


Of course, the main traits that OneGoal aided students in learning are all the character traits that many successful graduates possess (often times taught throughout a child’s life by a care giver): responsibility, grit, perseverance, and, of course, their five leadership principles: resourcefulness, resilience, ambition, professionalism, and integrity. I know as a parent, these are some of the traits I work hard to ensure my children possess.  As a teacher, they were encouraged daily in the classroom.  I truly believe that the program, Tools of the Mind, would be the best type of program for our country to implement in our schools.  Starting at an early age to instill these character traits into children that may not have the opportunity to ever acquire them at home seems like our responsibilities as citizens! Once children possess these traits, learning and teaching academic skills would definitely be easier.  I know as an educator, every school year, I would start off teaching my classroom rules and procedures (basically the hidden rules of middle class), which included being responsible (bring your materials to class, clean your area, complete your assignment, be respectful, etc.)  This was in 7th and 8th grade.  At this point, students should already being doing these things and class time should be spent discovering new ideas and concepts.  In conclusion, I think both of these programs are effective, but our end goal in education should be to not have a need for a program like OneGoal because we implemented a program like Tools of the Mind.


Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #13 
What are your thoughts on programs like OneGoal and Tools of the Mind? Do you feel they are effective? Why or why not?
Based on the research, I don't know how one could argue against their effectiveness. I think it boils down to these students needing someone to care, follow through, and educate about life (outside what they see everyday) and academics. It sounds like an in depth form of a mentor program. I wish my school had something like this. Often I feel like I reach them in middle school, but when they get to high school I loose touch. If I follow through with a few of those, I think it would make all the difference in the world. I'm going to make more effort to do that on at least a couple students from each class.

Posts: 95
Reply with quote  #14 
On page 175 (chapter 4, section 8 "Closing the Gap"), Nelson states that the OneGoal program "...regularly turns underperforming, undermotivated, low-income teenagers into successful college students." 
What are your thoughts on programs like OneGoal and Tools of the Mind? Do you feel they are effective? Why or why not? 
I found this chapter very interesting.  The fact that the OneGoal program is able to take these students and give them the skills to navigate college is very encouraging.  It appears that with the right motivation, these kids can turn their lives around and become productive and happy members of society.  I admire the dedication of both the teachers and the students in this program.  I have had many students who do not have good study skills and also do not have the motivation to be successful in college.  However, most of the skills necessary to be successful are clearly teachable.  It looks like the success rate for the students in this program is good compared to some other programs.  Who knows?  Some of the others that dropped out, may just be taking a break.  It will be interesting to see how many of the off-track students end up getting on track again.  I was so struck by the statistic about grade point average being a predictor of college success.  It has been my feeling, not based on data, that the students in my classroom who are unable to earn a passing grade in my class may not find success in college.  Sometimes I believe it is a matter of growing up because most of my students are not facing the same obstacles as the students in the book and most of them have a fairly stable parental support system.

Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #15 

Programs like One Goal and Tools of the Mind appear to be effective. I think most students hand picked and placed in similar situations would be as successful as these students. It is difficult for programs like this to be successful in situations where all aspects are not controlled. I wish we could see the same results everywhere. I found the information based on GPA very interesting. Overall, it seems to prove how important the character traits discussed are. Drive, determination, the will to succeed are overwhelmingly important. I feel that educators must continue emphasizing this in the classroom.
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