John W. Gasko, an experienced leader in scaling best practices and innovation in education, has been named Chief Executive Officer of UChicago Impact, the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute’s (UEI) not-for-profit arm dedicated to creating reliably excellent schooling at scale. Gasko has distinguished himself leading large-scale initiatives that cut across and combine research, innovation, schooling, and policy. His appointment marks the next stage in realizing UChicago Impact’s immense potential for change.
“UChicago Impact has done remarkable work, bringing data-driven tools to thousands of schools and millions of students and teachers across the country in its first two years of operation,” said Timothy Knowles, John Dewey Director of UEI. “John’s expertise across sectors and his enthusiasm for innovations that improve the life outcomes of children will lead UChicago Impact in its next phase of development—bringing tools that improve teaching, learning, and leadership to significantly greater scale.”
Founded in the fall of 2011, UChicago Impact’s school improvement tools are already used in hundreds of classrooms in 55 major cities across 23 states. Last year’s inaugural statewide implementation of the 5Essentials learning conditions survey in Illinois reached over 1.2 million students and teachers in almost every Illinois school. Additionally, STEP™ is the literacy instruction system of choice for some of the highest performing schools nationwide, including KIPP, Rocketship, Uncommon, and Achievement First. New work in development, including the College Success Report, will continue to draw from UEI’s grounding in rigorous applied research to bring the knowledge of what really works into the schoolhouse.
Gasko’s appointment is part of a larger effort to build on UEI’s growing success as a national locus of the best research, practices, and tools for excellent urban education.
Currently serving as the Associate Director of the Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Gasko has led a variety of collaborative and innovative initiatives. Recent achievements include Rx to Succeed, a program that brings meaningful literacy-based follow-up activities to parents via a mobile app, as well as Act Early Texas!, an initiative that utilizes web-based training and developmental screening assessments to help refer parents to appropriate interventions in clinical settings. Gasko has also managed various several large-scale projects across the state of Texas. As founding chairman of the Governor’s Early Learning Council, he helped create the state’s first early learning guidelines and first online professional development system for family child care providers.
Prior to joining the Children’s Learning Institute, Gasko was the Director of Research and Public Policy for the Children’s Defense Fund in Austin, Texas, and an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Foundations, Leadership, and Policy Studies at Hofstra University. He first developed his passion for education as a classroom teacher and Dean of Academics in San Antonio, Texas.
“Urban schools have shown their willingness to establish ambitious goals for student achievement but they frequently lack the supports, innovations, and tools required to transform the rhetoric to reality,” said Gasko. “Given its current track record of success and expanding footprint across urban America—and its core ability to draw on UEI’s rich resources to develop rapid responses to the needs of the education marketplace—UChicago Impact is exactly the right organization to help schools break down the barriers behind the stubbornly elusive achievement gap.”
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity as CEO to work with such a committed board of directors and broad range of talented leaders and staff, to help make reliably excellent schooling a reality for all,” he said.
Gasko officially begins his role at the Urban Education Institute on February 17th.