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The Alliance was founded by two accomplished decision makers who, early in their careers, became championship poker players by applying their skills to make sound, calculated decisions. They went on to realize even broader success by applying those same skills to their careers and other parts of their lives. They founded the Alliance in 2014 because they believe that teaching decision-making skills to students will improve students’ academic performance, which will positively impact their lives, as well as the lives of people in their families, communities, and society as a whole.
Annie Duke became a high-profile speaker and coach, teaching investors, company executives, and financial leaders the power and processes of decision-making. She is the author of the best-selling books Thinking in Bets and How to Decide. She is celebrated for her work to make decision-making skills accessible to everyone, as well as the newly released book, Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away.
Eric Brooks is co-founder of the highly successful financial trading company Susquehanna International Group (SIG), where he served as managing director for 17 years. Susquehanna became an industry leader by training every employee to analytically approach decision-making.
The Alliance is an educational nonprofit organization backed by a core of angel investors and a growing list of donors. Because all believe in the critical goal of the Alliance mission, together they fund the organization’s operations, teacher resource development, research agenda, and community outreach.
They have seen decision science in action—in their own companies, organizations, and lives—and are unwavering in their commitment to ensure that the skills they have benefited from are passed on to students to help them today, and positively shape society tomorrow.
In addition, the Alliance is increasing its fundraising efforts to expand its team, increase outreach, and secure the necessary resources to ensure all students have access to Decision Education.
The Alliance for Decision Education is working to have Decision Education introduced to a broad range of schools, and to eventually have it become part of every student’s learning experience in every school across the country. Toward that end, the Alliance serves as a movement leader, working with others to build awareness and demand for Decision Education and scale solutions so that it can be integrated into schools.
Driving important and lasting change requires the involvement and support of many. The Alliance serves as a movement leader, working with like-minded people and organizations. Business leaders and researchers experienced in decision-making, academic experts, teachers, and parents all play a critical role.
The Alliance is also building core assets so that schools and districts can use them to construct and implement their own programs. This work includes creating Educational Standards that define the knowledge and skills students should possess at critical points in their educational career. It also includes the development of teacher training and certification programs, sample lesson plans, downloadable materials, and instructional guides. The aim is to construct the foundation that teachers, schools, and districts can build upon.
The Alliance’s focus on building awareness and demand while also scaling solutions is essential in creating that foundation, or field, for success. The Strong Field Framework identifies five key areas: Shared Identity, Standards and Practices, Knowledge Base, Grassroots and Leadership Support, and Secure Funding (Bridgespan Group, 2009). In recognition of the important role of the general public in accepting or rejecting significant education reforms, the Alliance added Public Awareness and Demand as a sixth critical area. Our strategic goals, measures, and prioritization are aligned with these six key areas, with the ultimate goal of building a self-sustaining strong field of Decision Education. Learn more about the Alliance Strategic Plan.
The education system in the United States has never systematically prioritized the learning of skillful judgment formation and decision-making, although advances in decision and behavioral sciences are improving the lives of people who have access to them. This is a critical need. One that will require a strong field of players all working toward the same, shared goal. That is why the Alliance is working as a movement leader—bringing together like-minded organizations, business leaders and researchers experienced in decision-making, academic experts, teachers, and parents. Together, we are building awareness and demand for Decision Education, and scaling solutions so that it can be integrated into schools.
The need for Decision Education has never been greater. Today’s students face an unprecedented barrage of messages that shape their decisions with significant and long-term impact. Studies repeatedly show that they struggle with these decisions.
In addition, fast-paced technological advances also make their futures highly uncertain, with good decision-making skills seen as their strongest asset for success.
Decision Education is rooted in and includes proven research from psychology, neuroscience, behavioral science, and decision science. Decision science is broadly applied by the military, in financial investing, and by top business leaders. Companies that apply decision science principles say they saw both faster growth and higher profitability (McKinsey 2017).
When the Alliance partnered with a Philadelphia school to teach just one aspect of Decision Education, their students performed 10 percent better in Math and 13 percent better in English, compared to other students in their school. In another study conducted in a Pacific Northwest high school, teachers added just 15 hours of Decision Education to their history classes and saw heightened engagement and half a standardized grade of improvement in testing scores (Jacobson et al. 2012).
The Alliance, along with a growing number of educators, are advocating that Decision Education be made available to all K-12 age levels, with skill development growing with the student.
Decision Education is the teaching and learning of skillful judgment formation and decision-making. Applied across K-12, the framework provides a set of competencies to support students in learning how to form more accurate judgments and make more skillful decisions, whether as individuals or as part of a group.
The skills and strategies embedded within Decision Education provide the foundation for making decisions proactively and rationally, empowering students in developmentally appropriate ways to determine what they value, what is true, and what to do. Decision Education draws from multiple fields—behavioral sciences and neuroscience, mathematics and decision analysis, and from philosophy and the pedagogical practices of education.
Decision Education includes four learning Domains:
The Alliance is working with educators to create scalable ways for teachers, schools, and districts to incorporate Decision Education into their curriculums.
Ultimately, districts will fully integrate Decision Education through all classes and levels. That would mean:
- All teachers and educational leaders are trained and certified in Decision Education
- Curriculum includes a dedicated course on Decision Education where students learn each of the key skills
- Skills are reinforced in all classes and subjects
- Counselors, coaches, and advisors embrace and apply decision-making skills
- Families are supported in their efforts to apply skills in the home
The Alliance, along with several decision science researchers, have conducted several pilots in recent years to test how best to incorporate Decision Education into the classroom, and to gauge results.
Philadelphia teachers working with the Alliance to teach their students just one aspect of decision-making saw a decrease in disciplinary problems and an increase in academic performance, including 10% better Math scores and 13% better English scores when compared to other students.
High school teachers in the Pacific Northwest incorporated just 15 hours of Decision Education skill instruction into their history lessons. Testing sophomore students before and after the skills were added, they saw both heightened engagement and improved scores—equivalent to half a standardized letter grade—when compared to other students.
In addition, the Alliance has completed its second Decision Education Fellowship. This program helps teachers learn decision-making skills, and then develop curriculum and materials based on those skills to teach their students. Last year’s Fellows, K-12 educators from public, charter, and independent schools in the United States and Canada, said incorporating Decision Education into their classrooms was “transformational” for both themselves and their students.
Teachers who are incorporating Decision Education into their classes say they are seeing a number of benefits, including that students:
- Seek alternate ways to solve a problem, versus merely accepting what is offered. This includes conducting additional research and considering varied opinions
- Are more engaged regardless of the subject matter because they feel part of the discussion
- Are more collaborative, with less conflict
- Show an increased ability to identify personal values and understand what matters to them
- Have greater focus on finding multiple options when making a decision, which leads to increased confidence
- Are better able to articulate their positions and points of view
- Have increased confidence in speaking with teachers, parents, and peers
- Are more self-aware
The Alliance hosts fellowships, conferences, and other professional development opportunities for K-12 educators, in addition to creating resources to support schools and districts with classroom implementation.
- The Alliance has developed a full set of Decision Education Learning Standards that define the knowledge and skills students should possess at each grade level as part of Decision Education.
- The Alliance hosts teacher Professional Development, helping teachers build their understanding of decision-making skills and their application in the classroom.
- The Alliance is preparing to host its third annual Decision Education Fellowship, which to date has included more than 40 teachers from public, charter, and independent schools in the United States and Canada. Through the fellowship, teachers learn decision-making skills, and then develop curriculum and materials based on those skills to teach their students.
- The Alliance is working with teachers and education leaders from across the country to develop and share a robust set of Unit and Lesson Plans for use with students in grades K-12, in any academic subject, to build judgment and decision-making skills.
Researchers have been studying and documenting the positive impact of decision-making skills for decades, showcasing that key aspects of Decision Education can drive improved judgment, decisions, and outcomes as well as confidence, satisfaction, feelings of ownership, and overall well-being.
That is why the military, many corporations, investment companies, and emergency first responders all strive to ensure their employees are trained in good decision-making. They know and see the benefits.
A vast majority of data-collecting research has been devoted to understanding the impact on adults, with the Alliance working to drive studies that will help better document the results with youth. Teachers using Decision Education in their classes today say students are more engaged, inquisitive, thoughtful, and open to new ideas.
A few key studies spotlight improvement in personal decisions, academic performance, engagement, and response to conflict.
- A Philadelphia elementary school that adopted just one aspect of Decision Education saw student math scores increase by 10 percent, English scores increase by 13 percent, attendance increase by 14 percent, and suspensions and disciplinary action decrease by nearly 2.5 percent as compared with students not involved in the program.
- In a study with High School sophomores, students with just 15 hours of Decision Education instruction included as part of their history studies were more engaged in discussions and increased their test scores by half a standardized grade as compared to other students.
Decision Education is focused on teaching skills that will help students evaluate options, weigh what is important to them, and seek additional information as they make their own decisions.
Critical thinking is an essential element of Decision Education and is woven throughout all Four Domains of our framework. From learning to apply mathematical and statistical concepts to situations in their own lives, to the goal of resisting cognitive biases, Decision Education provides specific tools and strategies to develop and support critical thinking from an early age.
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