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Black Education in the Wake of COVID-19 and Systemic Racism: Toward a Theory of Change and Action

July 20, 2021

This report presents findings from a research study the Black Education Research Collective (BERC) conducted to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism have impacted Black education from the perspectives of Black parents, teachers, students, educators, and community leaders. Findings underscored the historical and systemic nature of trauma in Black communities as a result of racism in U.S. institutions, including schools and school systems. Participants expressed concern over the fact that schools are ill-equipped to meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of their children and that COVID-19 and increasing racial violence have revealed further their lack of capacity or willingness to meet the educational needs of Black students or expectations of Black parents.

The Boston Opportunity Agenda: Ninth Annual Report Card

May 19, 2021

Our annual report card is a key vehicle for reporting on our success and challenges at the system and student level across the educational pipeline, and we are pleased to share with you this Ninth Annual Report Card. Due to the pandemic, we did not issue a report card last year in 2020 and many of the indicators that we traditionally track, including MCAS, are not available this year. As students return to school and our systems work to close the learning gaps created by more than a year of disrupted learning, it is critical that all stakeholders understand previous trends and baselines for each of our measures of success. It is equally critical that we report on measures that focus on where the systemic shortfalls are as, together, we seek to create the necessary prerequisites for students to experience success. This year's report card is designed to do just that.  As Boston students return to in-person learning across all settings, it is more important than ever to ensure we highlight the gaps that need to be addressed so that all students regardless of their race, ethnicity or socio-economic status are able to participate fully in our world-class city and economy.

Racial Equity and Student Centered Learning

December 4, 2020

This report collects the perspectives and experiences regarding Student-Centered Learning (SCL) and racial equity in education of a racially diverse set of community stakeholders across New England. It examines how racial equity strategies and Student-Centered Learning practices could be integrated to combat racism and racial inequities in education.

A View from the Canopy: Building collective knowledge on school innovation

September 1, 2019

Databases and lists that offer information about innovative schools unintentionally contribute to the problem, as a lack of standard terminology and data structures forces them into siloes. As a result, knowledge of how schools are reimagining the learning experience for students remains deeply fragmented and woefully insufficient, creating real consequences—not only for funders, researchers, and school support organizations, but ultimately for the evolution and spread of promising practices.Recognizing this challenge, the Christensen Institute has worked with a range of partners to launch a project we're calling the Canopy: an effort to build better collective knowledge about the diverse range of schools offering learning experiences designed with students at the center. More than just another list, the Canopy reimagines both where information comes from as well as how it is structured to address some of the fractures in the current system. By casting a wide net through a crowdsourcing approach, Canopy surfaced 235 schools making strides towards student-centered learning—72% of which do not appear on other commonly referenced lists of innovative schools. Nominators and schools also used a consistent set of "tags" or common keywords to describe each school's model, meaning the dataset can be filtered, analyzed, and built out over time.This initial stage of the Canopy demonstrates how a process designed to advance collective knowledge has the potential to unveil a more diverse, complete picture of K-12 school innovation. We hope this leads to additional research efforts, and ultimately supports the development and scale of promising innovative approaches across the country.

Maximizing Student Agency: Implementing and Measuring Student-Centered Learning Practices

October 9, 2018

American Institutes for Research (AIR) conducted this study as part of the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative's initial cycle of research. The team at AIR worked alongside fellow scholars, educators, and policymakers to investigate the impact of specific student-centered practices and then translate their findings for cross-sector audiences.The research questions investigated in this study are:What practices do teachers employ to provide feedback to students on their performance that assist with the development of student agency?What contextual factors do teachers view as facilitators of or challenges to implementing these practices?How well do student survey questions measure student agency?Were the measurement properties of the agency scales consistent over time and across student subgroups?Are there significant subgroup differences in measures of student agency?How does student agency change during the school year?Do changes in student agency during the school year differ between subgroups of students?How do teachers use data to inform their practices?This report represents their work over the past two years as they designed, tested, and revised teacher practices as part of a networked improvement community and examined how student agency impacted academic outcomes.

"In Theory It's a Good Idea": Understanding Implementation of Proficiency-based Education in Maine

October 1, 2018

Education Development Center (EDC) partnered with 10 districts in rural Maine that were in the process of implementing the state's requirement that students graduate with a proficiency-based diploma, to study students' exposure to student-centered, proficiency-based education and the relationship between exposure and student academic performance and engagement. Using Latent Profile Analysis, a statistical technique used to uncover hidden subgroups (i.e., latent profiles) based on the similarity with which a group of individuals responds to a set of survey questions, we found that three distinct proficiency-based education (PBE) exposure profiles existed, in similar proportions across all the participating schools and within every school. Analyses of district level administrative data showed that having an IEP was associated with higher exposure to PBE practices but that other student characteristics, including free and reduced-price lunch status and gender were not associated with more exposure to PBE practices. We also observed a positive relationship between exposure to PBE practices and increased levels of student engagement, and a negative association between exposure to PBE practices and SAT scores. Finally, qualitative analyses revealed that implementation to date has largely focused on identifying graduation standards and implementing new proficiency-based grading practices, with traditional classroom practices still fairly commonplace.

The Boston Opportunity Agenda: Sixth Annual Report Card

January 1, 2017

The Boston Opportunity Agenda is a public/private partnership among the City of Boston, the Boston Public Schools, the city's leading public charities and many local foundations to ensure that all Boston residents have access to the education necessary for upward economic mobility, civic engagement, and lifelong learning for themselves and their families. We fervently believe that by combining our resources, expertise and influence around a single agenda, we will have a greater impact on Boston's cradle-to-career educational pipeline.While Boston has many exciting programs and organizations that focus on providing opportunities for individuals, the Boston Opportunity Agenda is a long-term partnership focused on achieving system change that will ultimately affect all Boston residents.  It is with this in mind that in 2014 the leadership of the Boston Opportunity Agenda expanded the focus of our work to include not only Boston Public Schools, but also Catholic and Charter schools located in Boston.Over the past several years, the Boston Opportunity Agenda member organizations have used three organizing principles to guide our collective work and network structure. The partnership is governed by the CEOs of each member organization who identify strategic issues facing our educational pipeline in whole or in part, formulate the Boston Opportunity Agenda priorities and strategies, and provide a call to action for community stakeholders.

Education Indicators for Maine 2016

November 1, 2016

Educate Maine recently released its annual report "Education Indicator For Maine 2016" which looks to explore Maine's entire education system beginning in early childhood and continuing throughout adulthood. The report found that while 88% of Maine's students graduated from high school, less than half of all students were at proficiency in reading and math by the 11th grade.

Reaching the Tipping Point: Insights on Advancing Competency Education in New England

October 1, 2016

This paper explores K-12 competency-based education policy and practice across six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.This paper explores the core concepts of competency education, detailing the limitations of the traditional system, and how competency education is designed explicitly for equity and student success. Author Chris Sturgis then dives into why and how the New England region embraces competency education. She provides insights into policy strategies being used across states and analyzes the impact of competency education on quality, equity, scaling and sustainability. The Appendix offers a synopsis of each state strategy, complemented by short case studies of a few districts and schools.

Supporting Youth Organizing: A Tale of Unexpected Insights

August 1, 2016

In August 2016, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF) commissioned Algorhythm to conduct an evaluation of eight (out of the twelve they were funding at the time) Amplifying Student Voice and Leadership (ASVL) grantees so they could learn more about their efforts supporting youth organizing work over a five-year period. Through this study, we have gained three key insights, many unexpected, that might support other grantmakers as they consider how to support youth-led social change initiatives.Thanks to the Algorhythm study—and several other simultaneous studies it commissioned, in which racial equity emerged as a core theme—NMEF is realizing that it will need to address equity more directly, specifically when it comes to supporting youth organizing work. We have developed this issue brief for funders who support youth organizing groups or those considering doing so, and we hope the insights shared can help any donor trying to develop effective youth-adult partnerships. 

Seizing the Moment: Realizing the Promise of Student-Centered Learning

May 1, 2016

This brief outlines policy recommendations for supporting student-centered learning at the local, state, and federal level.

Chugach School District: A Personalized, Performance-Based System - Insights from the Field

March 1, 2016

This paper explores how an Alaskan school district shifted from a traditional K-12 education system to a personalized, performance-based system, embedded in the culture of the community, which led to increased student achievement.Chugach School District (CSD) first implemented competency education over twenty years ago, paving the way in developing a system founded on student advancement upon demonstrated mastery. This case study explores how CSD created the infrastructure to support a performance-based system, expanding learning beyond the classroom, embracing the culture of the community and developing educator growth.