The Center for Learning Excellence was established in August of 2000 to support the work of more than 500 school districts participating in Ohio’s Alternative Education Challenge Grant Programs. The Center was founded by then-Human Ecology Dean David W. Andrews as a project of the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy. Dean Andrews served as Director of the Center from its inception until June of 2006, at which time Dr. Al Neff became Director. Dr Neff has played a key role in the development of all of the Center’s many initiatives.
The Center began with a vision of helping students at risk of school failure due to problem behavior become successful in school and in life. Guided by this vision the Center set out to:
- Identify evidence-based practices and principles that could be used in the Challenge Grant Programs,
- Conduct training and technical assistance consistent with this evidence-based approach, and
- Conduct an evaluation of the state-wide program each year.
Although the vision has expanded over time, these three components of the mission have changed very little.
The Center has expanded its work beyond education and problem behaviors to include initiatives sponsored by many additional state and local agencies and organizations that share responsibility for serving Ohio’s children, youth and families. The Center’s customers include the Ohio Departments of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services, Health, Job and Family Services, Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities and Youth Services. In addition to these state agencies, the Center has provided technical assistance to the United Way of Central Ohio and the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, an 8,000 student online charter school. The Center is also helping forty-nine Ohio Family and Children First County Councils plan, implement and evaluate programs and services designed to improve the well-being of children, youth and families within their communities. In each of the Center’s initiatives, there is a focus on building its customer’s capacity to make data informed decisions and, as a result, achieve measurable outcomes that benefit children, youth and families.
Dennis J. Sykes
Director, Center for Special Needs Populations
Ph.D., Early Childhood and Education
Director, Community Planning & Evaluation
Ph.D., Community Psychology
Director, Partnerships for Success Academy