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CTE and Career Readiness in Northwest Arkansas

January 24, 2024

High-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs lead to regional advancement and economic mobility when they align with regional economic needs and provide K-12 students the knowledge, skills and credentials they need for postsecondary success.As in many regions, Northwest Arkansas school districts offer students a range of CTE pathways to pursue based on their interests.To understand the quality and accessibility of those programs in NWA, Insightful Education Solutions convened a local advisory group, examined public enrollment and program quality data and conducted focus groups and surveys with educators and K-12 students. The research was supported with funding from the Walton Family Foundation.

As a Matter of Fact: The National Charter School Study III 2023

June 6, 2023

Now in its third version, this study evaluates the academic progress of students enrolled in charter schools in the United States. Using a common methodology across the three studies, results are translated into trends that support insights into the performance of charter school students over the past 15 years.

Walking on Eggshells—Teachers' Responses to Classroom Limitations on Race- or Gender-Related Topics: Findings from the 2022 American Instructional Resources

January 25, 2023

In this report, drawing on the spring 2022 American Instructional Resources Survey, the authors examine teachers' awareness of and responses to limitations on how they can address race- or gender-related topics in their instruction. Teachers experienced limitations that infringed on their instructional autonomy, which included their choice of curriculum materials and topics for classroom discussion. These limitations originated from a variety of sources, including state, school, and district leaders and family and community members, and encompassed a wide span of topics, including, but not limited to race- or gender-related topics. The multifaceted nature of these limitations highlights how teachers exist in an increasingly complex policy environment in which they must consider and weigh not only their own perspectives but also the perspectives of multiple stakeholders, along with numerous messages and directives from a variety of sources about what and how to teach. In this complex environment, the authors found that teachers' responses to restrictions on their classroom instruction ranged broadly from compliance with to resistance against these restrictions; teachers also engaged in numerous strategies to navigate the existence of these restrictions. Moreover, limitations placed on how teachers can address contentious topics may be leading to consequences for teachers' working conditions and for student learning. Teachers perceived that teaching students under these limitations has become more difficult and that these limitations make it more difficult to engage students in learning, support students' critical thinking skills, and develop students' ability to engage in perspective taking and empathy building.

The Consequences of Remote and Hybrid Instruction During the Pandemic

September 1, 2022

Using testing data from 2.1 million students in 10,000 schools in 49 states (plus D.C.), we investigate the role of remote and hybrid instruction in widening gaps in achievement by race and school poverty. We find that remote instruction was a primary driver of widening achievement gaps. Math gaps did not widen in areas that remained in-person (although there was some widening in reading gaps in those areas). We estimate that high-poverty districts that went remote in 2020-21 will need to spend nearly all their federal aid on academic recovery to help students recover from pandemic-related achievement losses.

Leveraging Nuanced Data to Inform Research and Policy for Immigrant Students and Families

June 9, 2022

More than a quarter of US children have at least one immigrant parent, but researchers and policymakers often do not have adequate data on these children's experiences in school. Information on the languages students speak at home can provide perspective on students' experiences and takes communities' unique strengths and challenges into account. States must report data on languages spoken at home to the federal government each year, yet district-level data are rarely published.Home language data have untapped value, with far-reaching implications for instruction, student support services, and policy. Better and more public data on student background can enhance our understanding of students' experiences and provide nuanced information to educators, researchers, and policymakers to better serve distinct student subgroups. Publishing district-level home language data could inform education policy decisions, providing much-needed nuance to public education data systems.

Educating English Learners During the Pandemic: Insights from Experts, Advocates, and Practitioners

April 13, 2022

There is a growing body of evidence about the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on English learners (ELs). We sought to capture the complexity of learning conditions for this student population during the COVID-19 pandemic by interviewing 20 EL education leaders. These experts' experiences revealed that while remote learning posed significant challenges to EL education and services, educators improvised, collaborated, and continued to innovate throughout the pandemic. To help EL students moving forward, education leaders on all levels must acknowledge both the struggle and perseverance that shaped their educational experiences during the pandemic.

Parents 2021: Going Beyond the Headlines

December 8, 2021

Learning Heroes, in partnership with National PTA, National Urban League, UnidosUS, and Univision, released Parents 2021, our annual nationwide research conducted with K-12 parents, teachers, and, for the first time, principals. This timely research examines the commonalities and differences between mindsets of parents, teachers, and school leaders, and looks at their perceptions of family engagement.

Northwest Arkansas Housing Policy Landscape Assessment Phase One Report

September 9, 2021

In 2020, a team led by Smart Growth America assessed policies that affect the supply and price of housing in Northwest Arkansas and analyzed current capacity and market conditions for a wider range of housing types and price points. Two subsequent reports detail these findings and include recommended changes in policy and practice that could help the region successfully address these challenges. The reports build on Our Housing Future, a call to action published by the Walton Family Foundation in 2019, which found that "housing is becoming increasingly inaccessible to the region's workers, families and seniors." Over the course of the assessment, the research team conducted interviews, analyzed zoning codes and development processes, tested current and future growth projections and developed an understanding of the financial impacts of public and private investments as they relate to housing affordability.

Northwest Arkansas Housing Policy Landscape Assessment Phase Two Report

September 9, 2021

In 2020, a team led by Smart Growth America assessed policies that affect the supply and price of housing in Northwest Arkansas and analyzed current capacity and market conditions for a wider range of housing types and price points. Two subsequent reports detail these findings and include recommended changes in policy and practice that could help the region successfully address these challenges. The reports build on Our Housing Future, a call to action published by the Walton Family Foundation in 2019, which found that "housing is becoming increasingly inaccessible to the region's workers, families and seniors." Over the course of the assessment, the research team conducted interviews, analyzed zoning codes and development processes, tested current and future growth projections and developed an understanding of the financial impacts of public and private investments as they relate to housing affordability.

The Big Vision for the Next Stage of Education Philanthropy

December 9, 2020

Grantmakers for Education (GFE) surveyed our members and others supporting education philanthropy to understand where they as individuals see the greatest opportunities for leveraging action in this quickly evolving reality. Our focus on capturing individual perspectives reflects our view that individual voice is a leading indicator of how institutional priorities and strategies may evolve. Reflecting back the outlook of individuals is especially critical during a time of rapid societal transformation.Benefiting from the insights of a set of member advisors, we identified issues highly relevant to the current moment to home in on five interlocking themes we believe are central to the future of education: Pre-K-12 Educational ImprovementRacial Justice in EducationCivic Education and StudentsPostsecondary and Workforce SuccessPhilanthropy in an Inequitable System

Recommendations to improve data sharing agreements for U.S. fisheries in the Pacific region

November 11, 2020

Based on interviews with participants in U.S. Pacific fisheries mangement, this report presents guidelines for building relationships in support of data sharing. It includes a glossary of key terms around data management to help create a shared understanding across technical, program, and industry, as well as a model template for data sharing agreements.

MIRRORS FOR LATINX STUDENTS: Attracting and Retaining Latinx Teachers in Massachusetts

January 30, 2020

From national test scores to graduation rates, we have reason to be proud of the progress we have made over the past decade.1 During that same time, it has become clear that Latinos have played, and will continue to play, a larger role in the Commonwealth's future. Latinos are expected to comprise 15 percent of the population of Massachusetts by 2035 – growth fueled primarily by in-state births rather than immigration.2 It is critical, then, that Massachusetts' workforce, at every level, reflect our population. This work begins now, in the classroom. Investing in a strong education system that meets the needs of Latinos and other students of color, as well as students from low-income backgrounds, is an investment in the workforce of the future.