Beating the Odds, Building Opportunities

The Annual “Beating the Odds” Conference began in 2017 to share insights from a study by Better Outcomes Research.

At the conference, several schools who were identified in the study as successful in the achievement of students in poverty presented their methods and strategies.

Click to read about study methodology and results.

Photos of the 2018 conference are here.

Please click here for the text of the 2018 keynote, and here for the powerpoint.

(To request a non-PDF form of the slides in order to activate the animations, please email me at


“I used to think data was only for decision making. Now I think that data is for BOTH collaboration and decision making.”

“The best part of the conference was the break out sessions where we heard from building leaders in charge of schools that are moving forward.”

“What I liked best about the conference were the clear presentations of data with identifiable steps that can move students.”

More feedback

Breakout Sessions


"You Gotta Start in the Dirt:" Cultivating Student Success and Achievement

Participants in this session will hear how Kendall Elementary, a rural high- needs school, has been growing its student achievement. Kendall moved from being the lowest performing school in the county to the top-performing, even among high SES schools! Attendees will leave with the keys of growing and cultivating a culture of instructional excellence: creating a collaborative culture, empowering staff to assemble and draw conclusions from data, getting people in the right seats, and using scheduling to create the results we needed.

View the powerpoint


Sharon Smith, Principal


Kendall Elementary, Kendall Central School District, Orleans County


The Four Cs: Community, Collaboration, Climate and Consistency

Some days it seems like there is no end to the pressure we all feel! We all face different challenges in our schools. In 2013, our school was identified by NYSED as needing improvement in the performance of our students in poverty. Through collaboration and academic consistency, we moved forward. Five years later, our students performed in the top 20% of schools with our demographics on the New York State ELA assessment. We're excited to share what's worked for us with you, with concrete ideas and materials to help get the conversation going in your school!

View the powerpoint


Jackie Van Nosdall, Principal
Kiersten Waruch, School Counselor


Kerhonkson Elementary, Rondout Valley Central School District, Ulster County

Speech Still 401A.png

Making the Most with your MTSS*

Our session will look at the creative ways our school works to meet the needs of all their students using the MTSS spectrum. Included in this presentation is how data drives our MTSS decisions and the resources we use to support us with these decisions. We will be sharing ideas, strategies and resources so that you, too, can make the most with your MTSS! 

*Multi-Tiered Support System – similar to RtI, but including social-emotional supports


Ellen Saxby, Principal,
Christie Graves, Instructional Coach/Literacy Specialist


Williamson Elementary, Williamson Central School District, Wayne County

Riding the High Tide of Student Growth

In our school, with 70% ELLs, and 77% poverty, success for all is a reality. This session will outline the instructional strategies, interventions and use of assessments to support student growth. We will address strategic teacher empowerment, building a warm and collaborative school culture where adults care about each other and the students, and the social and emotional well-being of all stakeholders. We will also share our systemic instructional approaches.

Download the presentation      


Richard Brown, Principal; Saritha Perez, International Baccalaureate Coordinator


Jackson Main Elementary School, Hempstead Union Free School District, Nassau County

PLC Practices and Data Use to Support Students in Poverty in Rural Schools

You will hear about how we are using data transparently and innovatively, and creating PLC structures to meet the needs of all striving learners. Our strategic co-laboring targets the needs of our students as a whole, while focusing on results for individuals. Goal oriented and action focused!


Kristin Beriman, Building Principal; Nicole Weist, Teacher, Special Education; Liz Sharkan, School Counselor


C. R. Weeks, Windsor Central School District, Broome County