A Brief History of ISA

Our mission? For nearly 30 years, the Institute for Student Achievement (ISA) has partnered with schools and districts to transform schools so that students who are traditionally underserved and underperforming graduate prepared for success in college and careers.

Gerard and Lilo LeedsIn 1990, philanthropists Lilo and Gerard Leeds founded ISA as a non-profit organization committed to improving the educational conditions and outcomes for America’s underserved youth. As a result of their deep commitment to excellence and equity for all children, the organization provided wrap-around services for cohorts of students in eight Long Island high schools.

In 2000, after 10 years of measurable success, ISA resolved to extend its reach to serve more students. In 2001, ISA tapped NCREST, the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools & Teaching (NCREST) at Teachers College, Columbia University, as a strategic education partner on the design, development, and implementation of ISA’s model.  NCREST continues to be an active ISA partner.

Educational Testing ServiceThe Educational Testing Service became the parent organization of ISA in January of 2013.  Through the mutual agreement of both boards, the two nonprofit organizations merged.

ISA’s equity-focused work is designed so that all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, class, linguistic diversity, and exceptionality are given intentional and equitable opportunities to learn. Nationally, our students are 53 percent Black/African American, 36 percent Latino, 5 percent Asian, 4 percent White, 1 percent Native, and 1 percent Multiracial. Nearly 80 percent of students in ISA schools qualify for free or reduced lunch and nearly two-thirds begin ninth grade with significant deficits in mathematics and literacy.