‘Welcome to Achieve’ by Philip O’Callaghan

As I turned onto 1400 16th Street the nerves began to kick in, I really was so unsure as to what I was going to be doing with, ‘Achieve’.

All I did know was that:

‘Achieve is proud to be the leading voice for the college- and career-ready agenda, and has helped transform the concept of “college and career readiness for all students” from a radical proposal into a national agenda.

Achieve is a bipartisan, non-profit organization that helps states raise academic standards, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability to prepare all young people for postsecondary education, work, and citizenship.

I knew this because I had read their website over and over again along with watching their video numerous times.

Upon arrival on the 5th floor I was met by Lesley who introduced herself as the, ‘Senior Policy Associate, State Leadership & Policy Development at first I was a small bit taken aback as I thought this internship was going to be one based on title and rank, however I was mistaken. Sarah Matthews my supervisor then met me at the front office and she quite energetically escorted me to my desk!

I have a window seat with plenty of working space along with my very own direct office line; it’s the small things in life that make me very happy! Following our introductions I was given my orientation packet which included all the necessary material and information to make me feel right at home. I was then asked to go on the tour of the office and meet all the staff, after the first 20 names I began to question my capacity to remember my own name! After my parade has finished I was told to open my Outlook calendar and check for meetings that day, I did has I was told and discovered that I had a meeting with a lady called, ‘Tracy A. Graham’ who is the Director of Implementation for the Partnership of Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) a section of Achieve where I would be assisting project management. This meeting went extremely well, it was open and frank and issues such as expectations of work conduct and detail of my assignments was discussed.

After this meeting it was onto another meeting, this meeting was the weekly PARCC staff meeting, under the watchful eye of Laura Slover, Senior Vice President for PARCC, at this meeting I was formally introduced to the team and the work began. I was given my first task of writing up and categorizing questions that teachers and parents had about certain aspects of the PARCC program. The day flew by and before I knew it was packing folders for the Governing Board Meeting to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I have just returned from those meetings, this for me was extremely beneficial as I saw firsthand policy making. As an educator is it heartening to know that we are all talking about the same issues in terms of education provision and that is the quality and standard of the programs and instruction we provide. Having been in the presence of some of the most influential Commissioners and Superintendents in the USA I came away with an increased respect for the role they play in the education system in the USA.

Tomorrow is Thursday and the last day of my first week with Achieve, as Doug Sovde said in the corridor on Monday, our President of the company Mick Cohen was Special Assistant to President Clinton for Education Policy, and Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, Achieve is like a mini, ‘West Wing’


4 thoughts on “‘Welcome to Achieve’ by Philip O’Callaghan

  1. Philip great report. I worked with the President of Achieve Mike Cohen for 8 years when we both worked for Secretary Richard Riley and President Clinton. Mike would know me well. Mike would have a high respect for Richard Riley who was instrumental in helping WIP get its initial funding from the Irish Dept of Education. Richard Riley continues to support WIP He is a Cavan man. D.C. is a very small world and there are lots of interconnections Kevin Sullivan

    • Hi Kevin, thank you very much for this reply. I will be sure to mention your name when I am back in the office on Monday. It truly is a wonderful place where policy making happens right in front of your eyes.

      As a secondary school teacher who wants to become a leader in educational reform and policy making I am finding my time with Achieve really beneficial.

  2. Philip, I enjoyed meeting you today and am pleased to see that you are finding your work placement an extraordinary learning opportunity for you regarding education reform and public policy. I look forward to seeing you at the next WIP event.

    Best, Holly

  3. Hi Holly,

    Thank you very much for your kind comments. It was also a pleasure to listen and learn from your experiences. I also look forwardP to meeting again at more events in the future. P

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