LSI Founder: Michael D. Toth

Why LSI’s focus on breaking the cycle of generational poverty?

A Message from Our Founder, Michael D. Toth

Like millions of others, I experienced poverty as a child. I distinctly remember the first time I became aware we were poor is when someone told me. That moment and every detail is seared into my consciousness. Up until then, being poor was just normal. My world would never be the same again because growing up in poverty is not something you ever truly escape from.

I remember in first grade wondering why others had “store bought” toys, and I had handmade toys. Since I did not attend either pre-school or kindergarten, I was always behind the other children. They came to first grade knowing their letters and numbers, and I knew neither. Then class awareness started even in the early elementary grades as popular and unpopular kids got sorted into peer groups … but why is it the more “popular” kids also mostly had wealthier parents?

Michael D. Toth Headshot

If your parents did not know how to advocate for you or join the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), your needs were not attended to the same as those who did. These are the skills that more advantaged households just do for their children and less advantaged households often do not know to do. They often just trust the school to do the right thing for their children. Think about it: Who hires tutors for their children to get even better grades, so they go to the best colleges and universities? Advantaged parents or those in poverty?

Michael D. Toth visiting a classroom

Michael D. Toth visiting a classroom

Eventually, my family prospered and moved from a trailer to a house and joined the lower middle class. I was instilled with a work ethic that drives me to this day as it does many that escape poverty. However, working hard does not give you the skills for upward mobility. Working smart does. These are the things Malcolm Gladwell eloquently explains in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success. When you come from poverty, everything is just harder. You must work harder, be smarter, and get breaks because you do not have the societal networks and advantage wealthier parents impart to their children. And it is even harder for children of color who are from poverty and have to deal with race barriers in addition to class barriers.

Kids from poverty often don’t know how to effectively advocate for themselves and how to access and enter the societal networks and circles of wealth. We don’t learn how to seek the mentors who open the doors for upward mobility. We don’t go to the expensive, elite schools. We cannot afford them. If we are lucky enough, we go to community or state colleges and universities. That means we are locked out of the elite circles of mentors and alumni networks that help each other succeed. And the separation of class privilege continues. Although every day people escape poverty and enjoy successful careers and lives, it is much too rare and much too difficult. It does not need to be this way. Schools can be the change – the great equalizer children need them to be.

Michael D. Toth with leadership staff at Midway Elementary - Midway, FL

Michael D. Toth with leadership staff at Midway Elementary – Midway, FL

This is why our social mission is to transform classroom core instruction to develop both the agency and academics within students to break the cycle of generational poverty. The agency students need is not the basic social and emotional learning schools are doing but rather Transcendent Agency. It is the higher agency skills for upward mobility that empowers students to transcend barriers to achieve their hopes and dreams.

I hope you will join me to fulfill our social mission for all children. Thank you for exploring our website and learning more about Learning Sciences International.

Our Mission

Our vision for education is to close the achievement gap. Equip all students with the social, emotional, and cognitive skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. Expand equity by giving every child access to rigorous core instruction that empowers learners to free themselves from generational poverty.

Biography

Michael D. Toth is the founder and CEO of Learning Sciences International, head of LSI’s Applied Research Center, and an award-winning education author.

Years in education: 25+

Past key roles: President of the National Center for the Profession of Teaching, grant director for research and development grants

Learn more about Michael Toth

Books

The Power of
Student Teams

David A. Sousa,
Michael D. Toth

The Essentials for
Standards-Driven Classrooms

Carla Moore, Deana Senn, Libby H. Garst,
Michael D. Toth, Robert J. Marzano

School Leadership for Results

Beverly G. Carbaugh, Michael D. Toth, Robert J. Marzano

Teacher Evaluation That Makes a Difference

Michael D. Toth, Robert J. Marzano

Reports and Articles

Toth, M.D. (forthcoming, 2021). Instructional Equity and Access in a Pandemic. National School Board Association (NSBA).
Toth, M.D. (2020). Increasing Equity and Achievement by Empowering Students. National School Board Association (NSBA).

Read More
Sousa, D.A., & Toth, M.D. (2020). Neuroscience Supports Successful Student Academic Teams. ASCD Express.

Read More
Toth, M.D. (2020). Equitable Instruction: Integrate Social-Emotional Learning into Academics. American School Board Journal (NSBA).

Read More
Toth, M.D. (2019). Empowered Students Lead and Learn. The Learning Professional (The Learning Forward Journal).

Read More
Basileo, L. D., & Toth, M. D. (2019). A State Level Analysis of the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model: Predicting Teacher Value-Added Measures with Observation Scores. Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation.

Read More

Presentations

Michael D. Toth often delivers keynote speeches at conferences and events to shed light on the most pressing issues facing educators today. He also has sat on education panels in person and virtually. As a thought leader, Michael has moderated high-level events such as roundtable discussions between some of the nation’s top superintendents on topics like preparing for a return to the classroom post COVID-19 and reimagining schools of the future.

  • Toth, M.D. (August 2020). Equity, Access & Student Agency. National School Board Association (NSBA). Virtual webinar.
  • Toth, M. D. & Saelens, P., (February 2020). Achieving Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Learning Through Academic Teaming. National Conference on Education by American Association of School Administrators (AASA). San Diego, California.
  • Brookhart, S., Guskey, T., McTighe, J., Toth, M., and Wiliam, D. (July 2019). National Panel on Grading for Learning. Learning Sciences International Formative Assessment National Conference. Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Toth, M. D. & Sousa, D. A., (June 2019). The Power of Student Teams: Achieving Social, Emotional and Cognitive Learning (keynote). Learning Sciences International Building Expertise Conference. Orlando, Florida.
  • Toth, M. (March 2019). Transforming Schools for New Economy Skills and Rigor. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Conference. Chicago, Illinois.
  • Toth, M., and Grover, T. (March 2019). Transforming Core Instruction: Student Academic Teams for SEL and Rigor. The National School Board Association (NSBA) National Conference. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • Toth, M., and Grover, T. (February 2019). Transforming Core Instruction: Student Academic Teams for SEL and Rigor. National Conference on Education by American Association of School Administrators (AASA). Los Angeles, California.
  • Toth, M., and Grover, T. (January 2019). Transforming Core Instruction: Student Academic Teams for SEL and Rigor. The National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators Conference. Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Brookhart, S., McTighe, J., Stiggins, R., Toth, M., and Wiliam, D. (July 2018). Charting the Future of School District Assessment Reform. Learning Sciences International Formative Assessment Conference. Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Toth, M. (June 2018). Discovering the Power of You (keynote). Learning Sciences International Building Expertise Conference. Orlando, Florida.
  • Toth, M., and Dujon, A. (December 2018). Transforming Schools for New Economy Skills and Rigor. Learning Forward National Conference. Dallas, Texas.
  • Basileo, L., and Toth, M., (April 2017). Turning Around Chronically Low Performing Schools. American Educational Research Association. San Antonio, Texas

Connect with Michael on Social Media