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Acelero Learning Named an Exemplar Head Start Program by Bellwether Education

Leading Education Research and Consulting Firm Bellwether Education Partners Identified and Examined Most Successful Head Start Programs in the Country

March 6, 2019

“We are honored to be recognized by Bellwether Education as an exemplar Head Start program,” said Rory Sipp, Senior Vice President, Acelero Learning Head Start. “The success of children and families in our program is the result of the tireless work of hundreds of Acelero Learning teachers, family advocates, center directors, and so many more who have dedicated their lives to the communities we serve with the belief that every child can succeed.”

In their Leading by Exemplar report, authors Ashley LiBetti and Sara Mead analyzed the entire Head Start landscape and ultimately narrowed their focus to Head Start programs that have evaluative evidence of positive effects on children’s learning outcomes. They spent nearly three years digging into the detailed design and practices of the Acelero Learning Camden/Philadelphia program, trying to understand what led to its success with children.  

LiBetti and Mead’s in-depth case studies of the five high-performing programs include lessons for the field, and two policy briefs (one on data utilization practices and one on instructional models). This research is the first of its kind and, taken together, offers lessons both for other Head Start programs and for policymakers who want to expand access to quality early learning in the early childhood world.

“This recognition is meaningful to us, because we believe so deeply in the impact the Head Start program can have—and we know there are so many programs like ours doing incredible work across the country,” said Henry Wilde, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Acelero Learning. “We hope that this study and these results will further inspire policy makers and the public to double down on investing in early childhood education so we can ensure that every child in America has access to a real head start.”

Founded in 2001 to bring an outcomes-focused approach to managing and supporting Head Start programs, today Acelero Learning serves 668 children in Early Head Start and 4,479 children in four states: Wisconsin, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. All Acelero Learning centers practice a common program model and leverage its corresponding tools and content, which are also utilized in the work that its sister company Shine Early Learning does in collaboration with Head Start partner programs across the country. 

Acelero Learning Camden/Philadelphia, which opened in 2005, operates eight centers in Camden, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, under the leadership of Executive Director Victoria Ankrah. The program is funded to serve 1,158 3- and 4-year-olds, and it offers a free, full-day, year-round program in both cities. Ms. Ankrah said, “When people from other communities walk into our centers in Camden and north Philadelphia, their heads sometimes spin, because they did not realize a Head Start program could look like this or operate this way.” 

Ms. Ankrah added, “When you walk into my buildings, I do not care how wealthy you are or where you live or what you think about the communities we serve or what you thought about Head Start before you came in the door.  You are going to want to leave your child here, because you cannot help but see what excellence looks like.” 

You can read the full Leading by Exemplar report here