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Students Around the Country Offer Advice for Re-Opening Schools14057GP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​​​​​​​​“While last year was the most difficult year we’ve probably had as educators, this upcoming year is the most important year,” said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in an opening statement during the U.S. Department of Education’s final <a href="https&#58;//compcenternetwork.org/national-center/6827/summer-learning-enrichment-collaborative-events" target="_blank">Summer Learning &amp; Enrichment Collaborative Virtual Session</a> last month.</p><p>Earlier conversations in the seven-part series focused on such topics as forming state-level coalitions, using evidence to inform summer programs, tapping ​federal funds to promote equity through summer enrichment opportunities. This last session, however, addressed perhaps the country’s most important stakeholders&#58; students. </p><p>“We know students have a voice, and they have a lot to say. We have to make sure we’re designed to listen,” Cardona said.</p><p>Cardona kicked off the convening in <a href="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgICxaHfdIw" target="_blank">conversation</a>&#160;with a panel of students from around the country, who discussed what they’d gained from their various summer programs. </p><p>“We had different things for everybody, and I really enjoyed how inclusive and how much of a family my summer program is,” said Noah Shaw of his experience at the Miller Boys and Girls Club in Murray, Utah. </p><p>Mkayla Rowell, a freshman at Cleveland School of Architecture and Design at the John Hay Campus who participated in the Cleveland Metro School District Summer Learning Experience as a teacher, said the aspect she liked most about the program was being able to help kids who are younger than she is.&#160;​​​<br></p><p>“I really enjoyed just connecting with a younger generation and teaching them things that would’ve helped me when I was their age growing up in the city,” she said. </p><p>The students and young educators also offered their advice to education leaders for how to reimagine, redesign and rebuild engaging learning and enrichment opportunities throughout the year. </p><p>“Because most of us are transitioning from a school year that was mainly virtual, it’s going to be difficult for students to go back to in-person school,” said Kwynsky Miguel, a Lehigh University freshman, who worked over the summer at a program he attended in the past,&#160;the Aim High Summer Program in San Francisco. “I recommend teachers be very patient with their students rather than rushing them, because everyone will have a different pace going back into school. I really think being patient will help your students see that you want them to succeed and you really care about their mental well-being.”&#160; </p><p>In fact, a common theme throughout the conversation was the importance of creating a safe space, not just physically but mentally as well.</p><p>“I think the best advice I can give is just to be persistent with students,” Noah Shaw said. “Because I know some students have stuff going on at home, and that makes them want to give up and be antisocial, and their grades can fail. A great thing is to be persistent in making sure they’re okay...make sure you stick with them, never give up.”</p><p>Representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also participated in the meetings that followed the roundtable with the youth leaders to provide updates on guidance and resources for a healthy and safe return to school. Their recommendations for schools included promoting vaccines to those who are eligible, wearing masks indoors, maintaining three feet of distance between others, washing hands, improving ventilation systems and staying home when sick.&#160; </p><p>“Transitioning in times of physical distancing, masks and extra stress is extra hard,” said&#160;Lara Robinson, a behavioral scientist with the Child Development Studies Team at the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “Teachers, parents and programs can help children by planning the transition, making strong connections and establishing new routines. With the right support, children can adjust to their new program, make new friends, learn new things and strive.”</p><p>Attendees of the virtual meeting also had the opportunity to join tabletop discussions. One of them, <em>Engaging Educators, Families, Students in Planning Summer and the Return to School,</em> examined innovations employed by the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and district partners for a “whole child, whole community” recovery from the pandemic. </p><p>Representatives from the district showed how they developed a vision for post-pandemic learning that includes competency-based education, anytime/anywhere and whole human learning, along with personalized learner pathways. This summer, Cleveland had the opportunity to implement some of these principles during their Summer Learning Experience. Teachers submitted creative ideas for projects to implement during two separate four-week summer sessions, which more than 8,000 students participated in. </p><p>“We saw our kids do amazing work,” said Shari Obrenski, president of the Cleveland Teachers Union. “Our educators came away invigorated with the different things they had done; our students were excited to share what they learned. And now the task for us is to build upon what we have been doing over the summer and start bringing this to scale during the course of the normal school year with a larger number of our students and educators.” </p><p>Schools in Cleveland will return to in-person instruction in the fall, with a new remote school option. The district is working diligently to create an experience that aimed at making&#160;students want to be in school. Educators and administrators are implementing a more inclusive dress code and offering expanded enrichment and extracurricular activities such as band, choir, fitness and pottery classes, along with the supports to make them accessible for students.&#160;&#160; </p><p>In addition, this fall, on October 28, the <a href="http&#58;//www.afterschoolalliance.org/loa.cfm" target="_blank">22nd annual Lights On Afterschool</a> will take place. In a typical year, more than 8,000 afterschool programs around the country hold events to showcase their programs. According to Tiyana Glenn, a project associate at the Afterschool Alliance, this event is a chance for afterschool programs to celebrate and showcase exactly what they do everyday, as well as make their case to their community, to parents, to policymakers and to the media that afterschool programs are essential for students and their families. </p><p>Kwynsky Miguel, the teacher-assistant at Aim High Summer Program, made the case for summer and out of school time programs and how they can both help students and adults adapt to new situations that might come up in the school year.</p><p>“I knew this was a safe space for me to be who I am as well as to learn from others,” she said. “The whole experience of meeting new people and learning about their story was such a surreal moment that I really appreciate Aim High for—for showing me that it’s okay to be new to a whole new environment as well as knowing when it’s right to let yourself be comfortable with new people.”&#160; </p><p>In his roundtable with the students, Cardona also stressed that schools and afterschool programs can help provide a much-needed sense of community for kids this fall. </p> “Schools, school communities, and good summer programs are like second families,” he said. “There’s a sense of community there that, I think, sometimes we overlook. We don’t talk about that as educators as much. Schools are communities for our students.&quot;<p></p>Jenna Doleh912021-09-16T04:00:00ZStudents, educators and others at U.S. Department of Education convening encourage patience, safe spaces, increased support as students return this fall.9/16/2021 3:13:46 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Students Around the Country Offer Advice for Re-Opening Schools Students, educators and others at U.S. Department of 71https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Think States Play No Role in Shaping Effective Principals? Think Again.14084GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>​​​​States often tread lightly when it comes to assuming a full role in improving principal quality. They are concerned, among other things, about overreach into an area—public education—where local authority is prized. But that doesn’t mean states have to be bystanders as interest in cultivating effective school leadership grows. Indeed, according to a RAND report published by Wallace last fall, states have seven key policy levers to consider pulling&#58;<br></p><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Setting principal standards<br></div><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Recruiting promising candidates into the profession</div><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Licensing new and veteran principals<br></div><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Approving and overseeing principal preparation programs</div><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Supporting principals’ growth with professional development</div><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Evaluating principals</div><div class="wf-Element-BlueBullet">Supporting “leader tracking systems,” online systems to collect and analyze data on aspiring and established school leaders.</div><p>The report,<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/using-state-level-policy-levers-to-promote-principal-quality.aspx"><em>Using State-level Policy Levers to Promote Principal Quality</em></a>, examines how seven states have pulled these levers, or not, as well as what helps and hinders effective use of the levers.&#160; A <a href="/knowledge-center/Documents/Infographic-Policies-Seven-States-Enacted-to-Promote-the-Quality-of-Principal-Preparation.pdf">new infographic​</a> also details what pulling the levers can entail as well as the degree to which the seven states have used each one. The states—California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia—are part of Wallace’s&#160;<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/launching-redesign-university-principal-preparation-programs.aspx">University Principal Preparation Initiative</a>, an effort bringing together university-based preservice school leadership programs, school districts and states to improve principal training.&#160; </p><p>We spoke via email with Susan Gates, a senior researcher at RAND and the lead author of the report, to find out more about using state policy levers for better school leadership. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.</p><p><strong>What’s the main lesson of your study for states that may be eyeing the principalship and considering what steps to take to improve it?</strong></p><p>When setting policy priorities related to the principalship, states need to consider the mix of policy levers they are currently using compared with the full range of options we outline in the report. What are you doing that is working well? What is not working so well? Think about how your successes could be leveraged to improve upon the gap areas. For example, all of the University Principal Preparation Initiative states have leader standards and are using them to promote principal quality to some degree, but not consistently across all levers. Extending the use of leader standards to levers where they are not currently used—such as evaluation—to create coherence across the entire pathway is a good option for states to consider.</p><p>Another key insight is that the pathway to the principalship is more complicated than most people think, and it differs state to state. The seven levers our report highlights typically target specific stages of the pathway. The best levers for one state to focus on may be different from those for another because the two states may have dissimilar pathways.&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><p><strong>What else did you find out about the varying routes to becoming a principal among the states you examined?&#160; </strong></p><p>When people think about the pathway to the principalship, they often have something simple in mind. A teacher attends a graduate program, gets a license and becomes a principal. We found that the pathway to the principalship is much more complex than that. It is common for there to be multiple stages in the licensure process. In addition, some states have alternative pathways that allow candidates to bypass state-approved preparation programs. This was true in three of the seven initiative states—California, Kentucky and Virginia. These alternative pathways are really interesting. If used with restraint, they can allow states to increase the stringency of program regulation and oversight without unduly burdening specific districts—because there is a work-around districts can pursue when they want to hire a compelling candidate who did not attend a state-approved program. But if used excessively, these alternative pathways can render state-approved programs irrelevant. These alternative pathways have potentially important implications for the use of other levers, and states should gather and examine data about the prevalence and implications of their use.</p><p><strong>You emphasize that a change in one area of state principal policy can trigger changes in others. Why does that matter?</strong></p><p>Our study highlights that the seven policy levers are highly interconnected. By reinforcing the ties between and among levers, states can amplify their effectiveness. We saw numerous examples of this. For example, program approval requirements in most states include that programs engage in effective candidate recruitment practices such as getting input from districts. Another example is that principal licensure, as I suggested earlier, typically requires completion of a state-approved principal preparation program. As a result, licensure requirements drive aspiring principals into programs that are in turn shaped by state policy. This interconnectedness means that when new policies are implemented that target one lever, they can have downstream or upstream implications for other levers. For example, when states change the assessment they use for state licensure, state-approved principal preparation programs modify their programs to support the success of their students on these assessments—even when the state’s program approval requirements do not explicitly change.&#160; </p><p><strong>Of the various key levers states can pull to improve school leadership, one stands out for having received nearly universal agreement in the seven states that it was effective in promoting principal quality&#58; leader standards. Why are standards so powerful?</strong></p><p>Leader standards are important because they provide a way of communicating priorities and objectives about the principalship that is relevant to all stakeholder groups (aspiring and current leaders, principal preparation programs and districts) and across all stages of the pathway to the principalship. Standards help states reinforce the ties between and among levers. For example, stakeholders we interviewed reported that program approval and licensure requirements were viewed as more effective when clearly aligned with standards.<br> <br> <strong>On the other hand, few of the people you interviewed for the report thought the recruitment lever was being used effectively. What do you think might be keeping states from pressing this lever more forcefully?</strong></p><p>Recruitment is a particularly complex one for states because using it effectively involves influencing the behavior of all three groups of policy targets&#58; aspiring leaders, programs and districts. Aspiring leaders must be encouraged to enroll in a state-approved principal preparation program, programs must be encouraged to accept high-potential candidates and districts must encourage those with potential to pursue the pathway to the principalship. The decision to enroll in a particular program requires the aspiring leader to make a financial commitment to the principal pathway in general and to a particular program. That can be a dealbreaker even in situations where all three groups agree that a particular candidate would be a good leader and that a particular institution is a good fit for that candidate.</p><p>All of the states in our study establish pre-requisites for admission to state-approved principal preparation programs and most encourage these programs to collaborate with districts in the candidate admission process. But only one of the states has a state-funded effort that provides financial resources to promising candidates to attend designated preparation programs. I think this approach is not used more widely because of the costs associated with it and the political difficulty associated with allocating state funds to support an aspiring principal’s pre-service preparation at some but not all state-approved programs.&#160;&#160;&#160; </p><p><strong>The report describes a number of ways to encourage change—coupling mandates with support, for example, or engaging early on with the variety of people and institutions that have a stake in the policy at hand. But you note that “among the most significant” policy changes you saw were those that emerged from efforts that had piggybacked on earlier K-12 education reforms. What’s an example? Why does this approach work?</strong></p><p>There’s a lot going on at the state level when it comes to education policy, and the principalship is often what is called a “low agenda status” topic in this space. It’s just not on the radar of a lot of people. This can make it difficult for principal quality to bubble up to the top of the priority list for policy change. One way to get principal quality initiatives on the agenda and successfully implemented is to link them clearly to a broader state education priority. Even better is to craft principal quality initiatives that piggyback on prior initiatives targeting teachers. For example, if the state revamps the teacher evaluation system or assessment for aspiring teachers, it can leverage that work and advance related efforts to revise principal evaluation systems or assessments for aspiring leaders. By leveraging the prior efforts, the costs of developing the system or assessment itself may be lower and some of the political legwork needed to achieve buy-in will have already been done. <br> <br> <strong>State policymakers—like their counterparts on the federal, local and school-district level—find themselves in an unprecedented moment. They are facing not only the pandemic’s dire effects on education but also the nation’s long overdue reckoning with racial justice. Is there a way in which state school leadership policy can help provide a beneficial response to these developments?</strong></p><p>The challenges facing our nation’s schools and school districts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and reckoning with racial justice pose deep questions for state policymakers that go well beyond school leadership policy. Within the school leadership space, the base of evidence about how to effectively address these challenges is relatively thin. Our study found that policy lever use is perceived as effective when it is grounded in evidenced-based, rigorous requirements. We also found that stakeholder engagement allows states to leverage expertise from across the state and expand and or supplement state capacity in order to push forward on a change agenda.</p><p>So as a first step, states could support knowledge-building about equity-centered and crisis-oriented school leadership, tapping a wide range of stakeholders to inform next steps.&#160; This could take the form of support for learning communities, or the development of templates for districts or preparation programs to use as they engage with community groups on these complex issues.</p><p>Another idea would be for states to orient their support for principal professional development toward these issues. Our study found that PD was being&#160;<em>used&#160;​</em>by all states, but stakeholders in only three states felt that it was being&#160;&#160;<em>used effectively</em> to promote principal quality. Professional development was a real focus of new state activity during the study time frame, with most states launching efforts to expand PD support. Orienting these efforts toward these pressing concerns is something states could consider.​<br><br></p>Wallace editorial team792021-07-22T04:00:00ZResearcher discusses seven policy levers states can pull to improve school leadership7/22/2021 5:00:29 AMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Think States Play No Role in Shaping Effective Principals Researcher discusses seven policy levers states can pull to 530https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Take a Minute (or Three) for Summer Learning11652GP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify s4-wpActive" style="margin-bottom&#58;500px;"> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https&#58;//www.youtube.com/embed/2FfSODepxdg?enablejsapi=1&amp;origin=http&#58;//admin.wallacefoundation.org" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" data-gtm-yt-inspected-2194631_46="true" id="935418708"></iframe>&#160;</div> <br>Wallace editorial team792021-04-06T04:00:00ZCo-author of latest RAND report on summer learning discusses key findings, including benefits for kids who attend frequently4/6/2021 2:51:29 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Take a Minute (or Three) for Summer Learning Co-author of latest RAND report on summer learning discusses key findings 380https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
How Can Research Help Design More Effective Youth Programs?11622GP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61;GP0|#b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211;L0|#0b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211|Afterschool<p>N​​onprofits that work with young people are always looking for ways to assess their effectiveness, and randomized controlled trials—which <em>randomly</em> place eligible young people into&#160;“treatment” and “control” groups to draw comparisons between them—are generally considered the most rigorous approach. Implementation studies, by contrast, examine how an effort is carried out, pinpointing strengths and weaknesses in operations. </p><p>In tandem, randomized controlled trials, or RCTs, and implementation studies can help organizations answer two major questions&#58; What is the impact of our work? What can we do to improve?&#160;&#160; </p><p>As informative as such studies can be, they are also challenging to pull off and act on. Just ask Lynsey Wood Jeffries, CEO of Washington, D.C.-based <a href="https&#58;//higherachievement.org/">Higher Achievement</a>, one of the organizations that took part in Wallace’s now-concluded <a href="/knowledge-center/after-school/pages/expanded-learning.aspx">expanded learning effort</a>. Higher Achievement, which provides academically focused afterschool programs for more than 1,000 middle schoolers in the D.C. metro area, Baltimore and Richmond, Va., has participated in two RCTs, the most recent one accompanied by an implementation study.</p><p>The first RCT, which was partially funded by Wallace and ran from 2006 to 2013, showed statistically significant effects for Higher Achievement students—known as “scholars” within the program—on math and reading test scores and in high school placement and family engagement. The second, completed last year (also with some Wallace support), found positive results, too, with the implementation study revealing some program delivery issues to be addressed in order for Higher Achievement to reach its full potential. (Readers can find the research and more information <a href="https&#58;//higherachievement.org/impact/">here</a>.) The organization was in the process of making changes when COVID-19 hit and turned everything upside down, but as the pandemic eases, the hope is to use the findings to help pave the path forward. </p><p>This is part two of our interview with Jeffries. See the first post on <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/creating-safe-spaces-for-young-people-during-the-pandemic.aspx">running an afterschool program during a pandemic</a>. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.</p><p> <strong>Why did you decide to participate in the second RCT, especially having already done one? </strong></p><p>There were two main reasons. One is that the first study only focused on what has been our home base in the D.C. metro area. So, it showed statistically significant positive impacts on academics for D.C. and also Alexandria, Virginia. But since that study was conducted, we have expanded to other locations, and our effectiveness hadn't been empirically proven in those places. That was important to understand. A number of programs may be able to show impacts in their home base, but replicating that through all the complications that come with expansion is a next level of efficacy. </p><p>Second, it was suggested to us that the way to be most competitive for the major federal <a href="https&#58;//www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-announces-inaugural-education-innovation-and-research-competition">i3 grant</a> we ultimately won was to offer an RCT. It's the highest level of evidence and worth the most points on the application.</p><p> <strong>Were there risks versus rewards that you had to weigh in making the decision to go ahead with the second RCT?</strong></p><p>We very carefully considered it because we knew from past experience the strains an RCT puts on the community and the organization.</p><p>The reward is that if you win the dollars you can learn a lot and serve more students. Our grant application was about adapting our academic mentoring to help accelerate learning towards Common Core standards. That's something we wouldn’t have been able to do, at least not at the intensity we wanted, without a multi-million-dollar investment.</p><p> <strong>Were there any results of either the RCT or the implementation study that caught you by surprise?</strong></p><p>The positive effect size for report card grades was greater in this second study than it was for test scores in a previous study. And that level of confidence did surprise me frankly, because I’ve lived and breathed Higher Achievement every day for many years now, and it's been messy. It hasn't just been a simple expansion process. There have been lots of questions along the way, adaptations to local communities, staffing changes, and more. So, to see that positive effect size for our scholars was encouraging.</p><p> <strong>You mentioned the strain an RCT can put on community relationships and the organization itself. What does that look like?</strong></p><p>Only accepting 50 percent of the students you recruit strains community relationships; it strains relationships with families and scholars most importantly but also with schools. It also fatigues the staff, who have to interview twice as many students as we can serve. They get to know the students and their families, knowing that we have to turn away half of them.</p><p>Here’s are example of how an RCT can distort perceptions in the community&#58; I'll never forget talking to a middle schooler who had applied for our program but was assigned to the control group. She said, &quot;Oh, yeah, I know Higher Achievement. It's that group that pays you $100 to take a test on a Saturday.&quot; [As part of the first RCT] we did pay students to take this test, and so that’s what we were to her.</p><p>Additionally, when you’re recruiting for an RCT, you have to cast twice as wide a net [because you need a sufficient number of students in both the treatment and control groups]. Because there was such a push for a larger sample, the interview process for Higher Achievement became pro forma, and our retention rate ended up dipping because the overall level of commitment of the scholars and families recruited for the RCT was lower than it would be otherwise. And both studies showed that we don't have statistically significant effects until scholars get through the second year. So, when scholar retention dips, you're distorting the program.</p><p> <strong>Did you approach the second RCT differently in terms of recruitment or communications to try to avoid or address that potential for strain?</strong></p><p>We were very cognizant of our school relationships the second time. Principals really value the service we provide, which makes it quite hard for them to agree to a study, knowing half the students won’t actually get the benefit of that service. So, we gave each of our principals three to five wild cards for particular students they wanted to be exempt from the lottery process in order to make sure that they got into the program. That hurt our sample size because those students couldn’t be part of the study, but it helped preserve the school relationships. We also deepened training for the staff interviewing potential scholars, which helped a bit with retention. </p><p> <strong>How did Higher Achievement go about putting the research findings into practice? In order to make changes at the program level, were there also changes that had to be made at the administrative level? </strong></p><p>The implementation study was really helpful, and I'm so grateful we were able to bring in $300,000 in additional support from Venture Philanthropy Partners [a D.C.-based philanthropy] to support it. One of the things we took away from the implementation study was that there was more heterogeneity in our program delivery than we desired. We knew that internally, but to read it from these external researchers made us pause, consider the implications, and develop a new approach—Higher Achievement 2.0. </p><p>Higher Achievement 2.0 consisted of a refined program model and staffing structure to support it. We shifted our organizational chart pretty dramatically. Previously, program implementation was managed by the local executive directors [with a program director for each city and directors of individual centers within each city reporting to the executive director]. Program research, evaluation and design were under a chief strategy officer, who was not in a direct reporting line with the program implementation. It wasn't seamless, and it led to inconsistencies in program delivery. </p><p>The big change we made was to create a new position, a central chief program officer who manages both the R&amp;D department, which we now call the center support team, and the local program directors, with the center directors reporting to those program directors. What that does functionally is lift the local center directors a full step or two or three, depending on the city, up in the organization chart and in the decision-making process [because they no longer report to a local executive director or deputy director]. Everything we're doing as an organization is much closer to the ground.</p><p> <strong>What were the main changes at the program level as a result of the implementation study?</strong></p><p>One of the key takeaways from the implementation research was that our Summer Academy, which was a six-week, 40-hours-a-week program, was important for culture building but the academic instruction wasn’t consistently high quality or driving scholar retention or academic outcomes. That prompted us to take a very different approach to summer and to make afterschool the centerpiece of what we do. The plan was to focus on college-preparatory high school placement and to expand afterschool by seven weeks and go from three to four days a week. That’s a big change in how we operate, which we were just beginning to actualize in January 2020. Then COVID hit, and we had to pivot to a virtual, streamlined program, but now we’re exploring how to go back to a version of Higher Achievement 2.0 post-COVID.</p><p>High school placement has always been part of Higher Achievement’s model, but we elevated it to be our anchor indicator, so all the other performance indicators need to lead back to high school readiness and placement. While our direct service ends in eighth grade, we have long-term intended impacts of 100 percent on-time high school graduation and 65 percent post-secondary credential attainment. [Therefore], the biggest lever we can pull is helping our scholars choose a great fit for high school and making sure they’re prepared to get into those schools. Instead of running programs in the summer, we are referring scholars to other strong programs and spending much more time on family engagement in the summer to support high school placement. This starts in fifth grade, with increasingly robust conversations year after year about report cards and test scores and what different high school options can mean for career paths and post-secondary goals. We are building our scholars’ and families’ navigational capital. That discipline is being more uniformly implemented across our sites; it had been very scattered in the past. </p><p>The other thing we set out to do, which has been delayed because all our design capacity has been re-routed to virtual learning, is to build out a ninth-grade transition program. We know how important ninth grade is; the research is undeniable. The individual data from our scholars says sometimes it goes smoothly and in other cases it's really rocky. Students who’ve been placed in a competitive high school may shift later because they didn't feel welcome or supported in that school.</p><p> <strong>What challenges have you faced as you’ve gone about making these big changes? Were there any obstacles in translating the decisions of your leadership team into action?</strong></p><p>The biggest obstacle is COVID. We haven't been able to put much of our plan into action in the way intended. The other obstacle we’ve faced is what any change faces&#58; emotional and intellectual ties to the way things have always been done. I was one of the staff members who had a great emotional attachment to our Summer Academy.</p><p>​There are rituals that have been a part of our Summer Academy that are beloved rites of passage for young people. We are building these rites of passage, college trips and other culture-building aspects of Summer Academy into our Afterschool Academy. That way, we can focus in the summer on intentionally engaging our scholars and families to prepare them for college-preparatory high schools and increase our overall organizational sustainability and effectiveness.</p><p> <strong>What advice would you give to an organization that’s considering participating in an RCT and implementation study or other major research of this kind?</strong></p><p>Proceed with caution. Before undertaking an RCT, review the studies that already exist in the field and learn from those to increase the effectiveness of your program. Let’s not reinvent the wheel here. If you do decide to proceed with an RCT, be really clear on what your model is and is not. And then be prepared to add temporary capacity during the study, particularly for recruitment, program observation and support. It takes a lot of internal and external communication to preserve relationships while also having a valid RCT. </p><p>There's a larger field question about equity—who is able to raise the money to actually conduct these very extensive and expensive studies? It tends to be white-led organizations and philanthropic dollars tend to consolidate to support those proven programs. Too few nonprofits have been proven effective with RCTs—for a host of reasons, including that these studies are cost-prohibitive for most organizations and that they strain community relations. And most RCT-proven models are difficult and expensive to scale.</p><p>However, just because an organization has not been proven effective with an RCT should not mean that it is prohibited from attracting game-changing investment.&#160; If there were a more rigorous way for organizations to truly demonstrate being evidenced-based (not just a well-written and research-cited proposal paragraph), perhaps there would be a way to bring more community-based solutions to scale.&#160;With that approach, we could begin to solve challenges at the magnitude that they exist.<br></p>Wallace editorial team792021-03-31T04:00:00ZAn afterschool program CEO reflects on the risks and rewards of intensive program evaluations4/5/2021 8:18:58 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / How Can Research Help Design More Effective Youth Programs An afterschool program CEO reflects on the risks and rewards of 264https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Why should school districts invest in principals?9783GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61​​<p>T​hey are items on every school district’s to-do list&#58; Reduce chronic absenteeism. Improve teacher satisfaction and retention. Bolster student learning. Now a major new research review points to the person who can have a positive impact on all of these priorities—the school principal. The groundbreaking study, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-principals-affect-students-and-schools-a-systematic-synthesis-of-two-decades-of-research.aspx"> <em>How Principals Affect Students and Schools&#58; A Systematic Synthesis of Two Decades of Research</em></a>, finds that replacing a below-average principal at the 25th percentile of effectiveness with an above-average principal at the 75th percentile increases the average student’s learning by nearly three months in math and reading annually. Schools led by strong principals also have higher student attendance and greater teacher retention and satisfaction, according to the report. </p><p>Recently, the Wallace Blog caught up with the report’s authors, Jason A. Grissom, the Patricia and Rodes Hart professor at Vanderbilt University; Anna J. Egalite, associate professor at North Carolina State University; and Constance A. Lindsay, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to discuss their findings and implications for the field. The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity. </p><p> <strong>After the release of the report, some people were asking on social media if a great principal is more important than a great teacher and you had a great response. Can you share it with us? </strong></p><p> <strong>Grissom&#58;</strong> You can’t directly compare the effects of teachers and principals because the effects of a principal are largely through their work to expose kids to great teachers. It’s helpful to think about it from different points of view. From the student’s point of view, the teacher is clearly the most important person because he or she has the most direct effect on what I learn and my other outcomes. For the life of a school, the principal is certainly among the most important people, maybe the most important person, in part because principals are the ones who hire great teachers, ensure that great teachers stay in the building, and set the conditions for teachers to be able to teach to their full potential. </p><p>The report tries to emphasize how large the impacts of principals are and also what the scope of those effects are. Even if you just focus on student test scores, the report uses this size-plus-scope-of-effect to argue that we really should be investing in principal leadership. We’d go so far as to say that if you could only invest in one adult in the school building, then that person should pretty clearly be the principal. </p><p> <strong>Given the research evidence showing the positive effects that a principal can have on student learning and other important outcomes, how can the field help less-effective principals improve? </strong></p><p> <strong>Egalite&#58;</strong> That’s the question we tried to answer in the second part of the report, which identifies the four leadership behaviors of great principals&#58; engaging in instructionally-focused interactions with teachers, building a productive school climate, facilitating collaboration and professional learning communities, and managing personnel and resources strategically. If you were designing professional development for below-average principals, these are the four areas you could lean on that the evidence shows are associated with better outcomes in the long run. </p><p> <strong>Which instructionally-focused activities appear particularly effective—and which ones not so much?</strong></p><p> <strong>Egalite&#58;</strong> One effective activity is the use of data. Principals can encourage teacher buy-in by using data to monitor student progress and demonstrate changes in student achievement. Another is teacher evaluations, which have become more sophisticated in recent years. They no longer just analyze student test scores to say if someone is a good teacher or a bad teacher, but marry that information with other data points collected through classroom observations and other measures. </p><p> <strong>Grissom&#58;</strong> We tried to highlight engagement with instruction as separate from a more general, and maybe ill-defined notion, of what it means to be an instructional leader. Some principals have internalized the message that instructional leadership means being in classrooms. But simply being present is not associated with greater student growth. It may even have negative effects because having the principal in the classroom is distracting for both the students and the teacher. Maybe that distraction is worth it if the principal follows up with support for the teacher’s work and uses data from the observations to help drive the instructional program. But on its own, it’s not enough to move the needle. <br> </p><p> <strong>The report found that principals can have an important impact on marginalized populations, including students from low-income households and students of color. How does an equity-focused principal exhibit the four leadership behaviors?</strong></p><p> <strong>Lindsay&#58;</strong> They infuse all the activities they usually do with an equity focus. With regard to instruction, it would mean working with teachers to adopt a more culturally responsive pedagogy. It means making sure that teachers are engaging in practices that are relevant to all students in the school. In building a productive school climate, it means working with families and thinking about the community context. </p><p> <strong>Grissom&#58;</strong> Thinking about how equity can be infused into these domains of behavior is clearly an area we need to know more about. The report offers lots of examples from the research base that exists, but the evidence is still developing.<br></p><p> <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Why-should-school-districts-invest-in-principals/FIGURE-7-2-Emerging-Framework-Connecting-Equity-in-Principal-Leadership-to-Equitable-Outcomes-ch.jpg" alt="FIGURE-7-2-Emerging-Framework-Connecting-Equity-in-Principal-Leadership-to-Equitable-Outcomes-ch.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> <br> </p><p> <strong>You also found widening racial and ethnic gaps between principals and the students they serve. What are some tactics that districts can use to diversify the principal workforce? </strong></p><p> <strong>Lindsay&#58;</strong> The key is diversifying the teacher workforce, because principals start as teachers. In terms of district actions, there are strategies like “grow your own” programs where districts identify and develop individuals in-house who are well-suited to meeting the needs of their community. Districts can also examine different stages of the educator human capital pipeline to identify places where people of color drop out and then work to shore up those stages. </p><p> <strong>Grissom&#58;</strong> We’ve had concerns for a long time that access to the principalship in a lot of areas is driven by who you know within a district. That likely disadvantages people who are not in power. In response, districts are increasingly formalizing leadership programs with predefined selection criteria, ensuring that people are getting into the principal pipeline on the basis of their capacity for leadership. And at the end of the pipeline, there has to be an equitable hiring and selection process. Diversifying the pipeline is an area we have to learn more about—where is it happening successfully and how, so that those practices can be taken to other places to ensure greater principal diversity. </p><p> <strong>Based on your report’s findings, what aspect of school leadership would you study right now if money and time were no object?</strong></p><p> <strong>Lindsay&#58;</strong> A lot of the research on equity that we drew from is very localized and context specific. I would study equity in a more systematic way. Just as we have rubrics for other things, I think it would be nice to have one about culturally responsive pedagogy that’s been tested and validated at a wide scale. </p><p> <strong>Egalite&#58;</strong> I’d like to know more, from a measurement perspective, about defining effective principals. I went through a Catholic teacher training program and for a brief moment considered its leadership training program. Their approach to leadership training is very much centered on building the school culture. Test scores are a much later part of the conversation. Private Catholic schools are obviously a different context than public schools, but how a principal sets the tone in a school and gets everyone rowing in the same direction is still relevant. How do you measure that? We rely on test scores to gauge principal effectiveness because they are easily collected by states, but it’s really just one piece of the pie. A more multidimensional view of principal effectiveness would be helpful.</p><p> <strong>Grissom&#58;</strong> I’m interested in how to measure capacity for the skills and behaviors we discuss in the report, so that we can do a better job identifying future leaders, developing their capacities and ensuring they are ready to lead when they enter the principalship. Historically, we have not done a great job of assessing people’s future potential. Maybe this is because we didn’t have the opportunities to develop the tools that measure those capacities. The same tools could also be used once a person is in leadership to identify areas for growth and target professional learning. They could also help us identify excellent leaders so we can draw on their excellence to help other people behind them in the principal pipeline. There are a lot of opportunities to think about how we identify, measure and assess both potential and strength at all phases of the pipeline. </p><p> <strong>Your report is the first of three research syntheses to be released by Wallace this year. A second will examine the role of the assistant principal and a third will look at the characteristics and outcomes of effective principal preparation programs and on-the-job development. How does it feel to be first out of the gate?</strong></p><p> <strong>Grissom&#58;</strong> We’ve done a few presentations about our report and people have asked how our findings apply to assistant principals and the implications for pre-service preparation and in-service professional learning. </p><p>It will be very interesting to see the conversations following the release of the other two reports and how they build on the conversation we’ve been having with the release of ours. Stay tuned. </p>Jennifer Gill832021-03-23T04:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.4/5/2021 8:19:43 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Why should school districts invest in principals Authors of major new research review on school leadership discuss the 291https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Creating Safe Spaces for Young People During the Pandemic10599GP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>T​​he best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, according to the poet Robert Burns. For a nonprofit organization serving young people in the midst of a pandemic that has forced them to stay at home and take on a raft of additional worries and responsibilities, the best-laid plans don’t so much go awry as get adapted on the fly. At the beginning of 2020, Washington, D.C.-based <a href="https&#58;//higherachievement.org/">Higher Achievement</a>, which provides academically focused afterschool programs for middle schoolers in the D.C. metro area, Baltimore, and Richmond, Va., was all set to promote the impressive results of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) it had recently wrapped up as well as roll out new programming to better serve its students. </p>​ <img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/Creating-Safe-Spaces-for-Young-People-During-the-Pandemic/LynseyWoodJeffries.jpg" alt="LynseyWoodJeffries.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;width&#58;174px;height&#58;174px;" />Then, COVID-19, along with an overdue racial reckoning and a wildly contentious presidential election, flipped the script. Through it all, Higher Achievement, a participant in Wallace’s now-concluded <a href="/knowledge-center/after-school/pages/expanded-learning.aspx">expanded learning effort</a>, has continued serving its students, known as “scholars” within the program. The intent is to respond, CEO Lynsey Wood Jeffries says, “with both urgency and gentleness.” <div> <br>​In this interview, the first of a two-part blog post, Jeffries discusses what it’s been like for one youth-serving nonprofit to face the great unknown—a topic on the minds of many this month as we mark the first anniversary of the declaration, by the World Health Organization, that the coronavirus outbreak was a pandemic. The interview has been edited for length and clarity. In part two, scheduled to be published later this month, Jeffries talks about the challenges that can come along with the benefits of research, the steps Higher Achievement took to put the research into practice, and considerations for other nonprofits contemplating an RCT.&#160;<br></div><p> <strong> <br>Has the pandemic caused you to view the role that Higher Achievement plays in a different way? </strong></p><p>The pandemic has forced us to prioritize what matters most. This pandemic has devastated traditionally marginalized communities and exacerbated health disparities and economic instability. Too many of our scholars are shouldering additional burdens, whether it’s worry about the health of family members or responsibility for childcare for their younger siblings because their family members are essential workers. </p><p>With these realities at home, and Zoom fatigue from virtual school, we had to radically adapt our high-dosage afterschool program to focus on where we could be most effective in this context of trauma, extra responsibility, learning loss and isolation. </p><p> <strong>You had these really positive RCT results to share right when the pandemic hit. Did that change the way you went about communicating the results of the research?</strong></p><p>We had plans to highlight the results of the study with our funders and our school partners in 2020, but those plans got overtaken by events. The study was published three weeks after George Floyd was murdered. We weren’t going to do a virtual roadshow on our study when it felt irrelevant. That was what was in the hearts of our staff. </p><p>Now the conversation is beginning to move towards what we can do to recover what's been over 12 months of learning loss, according to McKinsey's estimates, for kids who've been in virtual learning. As school districts and funders are considering “high-dosage” tutoring as one of the solutions, the RCT is elevating Higher Achievement’s position as a potential part of that solution. When we think about the results, particularly the positive effect on Black boys’ math scores, we’re asking how does this encourage us to be bolder in this racial reckoning work, in the achievement gap work?</p><p> <strong>How exactly has the pandemic affected the services that Higher Achievement provides?</strong></p><p>We’ve narrowed our program down to three things for now. The newest is virtual math tutoring pods, in which small groups of scholars review and practice what they’re learning in school. Second is mentoring, including high school placement mentoring. Third is community meetings. All those happen throughout the week. The virtual math pods are the biggest play we made. We realized our scholars were really slipping in math, and families are largely unprepared for that. Our school partners and school teachers have also asked us to support math instruction in these small groups. Scholars have wanted to be able to ask questions and have that person over their shoulder to help work through these concepts. We’ve had to re-skill our staff to be able to deliver. We did four rounds of pilots from March until August, then we rolled out a full program in September based on those pilots. With math, first semester grades are seven percent higher in December 2020 than in December 2019, pre-pandemic. </p><p>Math instruction by our volunteer mentors did not work well in the pilots of spring 2020, so we switched approaches in September, and the math pods are now led by our paid staff members.&#160; Humanities mentoring is working, however, and serves as a critical vehicle for tackling relevant social justice topics. We build on the curriculum and materials of a group called <a href="https&#58;//youthcomm.org/">Youth Communication</a>. They produce a youth-written online magazine about relevant topics from identity to the presidential election to activist movements to relationships, and it builds in reading, writing and critical thinking skills. Mentoring is consistently the most popular element of our program, with scholars and mentors so eager to deepen their relationships, combat isolation and dive into social justice together. </p><p>The high school placement mentoring looks radically different this year. Even though many of our eighth graders have not learned eighth grade content in school, we expect most of them will be ninth graders next year. And we want to make sure we’re supporting them in the transition. Family engagement throughout this year, starting with one-on-one outreach the week after COVID closed schools, has been critical to our high school placement efforts. </p><p>Community meetings have been a wonderful time for scholars, staff and mentors to all come together to process current events. There have been a lot of conversations about the election and now about figuring out how to support our communities through the recent assaults on democracy.</p><p> <strong>Do you anticipate any of the changes you’ve made because of the pandemic becoming permanent?</strong></p><p>We will see. We are conducting a strategic review in late March to develop our COVID recovery plan for the next two school years. We expect to continue our math pods in some form, but convert them to in-person settings, and possibly during the school day. We are also involved in advisory efforts to design and scale tutoring efforts in our cities.</p><p> <strong>Any advice for organizations struggling to adapt to the pandemic? A lot of time has passed, but we still unfortunately don't exactly know where we're at in terms of recovery.</strong></p><p>Do not try to do it all. Focus on your towering strengths to meet the extreme urgency of this moment. And then balance that with care for self and team. Try to act with both urgency and gentleness. The stake are high, and humans are fragile. </p><p>These turbulent times are hard, but also potentially transformative. Don’t lose sight of the hope. &#160;</p>Wallace editorial team792021-03-18T04:00:00ZHow one afterschool program is balancing ‘urgency and gentleness’ for middle schoolers in these difficult times4/5/2021 8:20:55 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Creating Safe Spaces for Young People During the Pandemic How one afterschool program is balancing ‘urgency and gentleness 410https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Survey of Large Cities Shows Afterschool Systems Have Staying Power10452GP0|#b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211;L0|#0b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211|Afterschool;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Over the past two decades, we at Wallace have learned a lot about how afterschool systems work and how cities can go about building them. One thing we still didn’t know, however, was whether cities would be able to sustain their efforts to coordinate the work of out-of-school-time providers, government agencies and others over a period of years. Now, a new report by the nonprofit human development organization FHI 360 offers some answers.</p><p><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/stability-and-change-in-afterschool-systems-2013-2020-a-follow-up-study-of-afterschool-coordination-in-large-cities.aspx"><em>Stability and Change in Afterschool Systems, 2013-2020</em></a><em> </em>is a follow-up to an earlier study of 100 large U.S. cities, of which 77 were found to be engaged in some aspects of afterschool coordination. For the current report, the authors were able to contact 67 of those 77 cities. They also followed up with 50 cities that weren’t coordinating afterschool programs in 2013 and found a knowledgeable contact in 34 of them.&#160;</p><p>The report provides a snapshot of the state of afterschool coordination just before COVID-19 hit, causing the devastating closure of schools and afterschool programs. We recently had an email exchange with the lead authors, Ivan Charner, formerly of FHI 360 and Linda Simkin, senior consultant on the project, about what they found in their research and what the implications might be for cities looking to restore their afterschool services in the wake of the pandemic. Their responses have been edited for length and clarity. </p><p><strong>What do you consider the key findings of this research?</strong></p><p>We discovered that more than three-quarters of the 75 cities coordinating afterschool programs in 2013 were still coordinating in 2020. [<em>Two of the original 77 cities were left out of the study for methodological reasons.</em>] In addition, 14 cities that were not coordinating in 2013 had adopted some coordination strategies.&#160; </p><p>Our study of the cities that sustained coordination between 2013 and 2020 explored the extent to which they had the three key components [of an afterschool system]&#58; a coordinating entity, a common data system and a set of quality standards or a quality framework. Overall, there was an increase in the proportion of cities with all three components (from 29 percent in 2013 to 40 percent in 2020). There was a decrease in the percentage of cities with a coordinating entity but increases in the percentage with a common data system or a set of quality standards, or both.<br> <br> Not surprisingly, funding was an important factor in whether or not cities had these components. Seventy-one percent of the cities that sustained their systems experienced either stable funding or increased funding over the past five years. A much higher percentage of cities reporting funding increases had all three coordination components compared to cities where funding remained the same or decreased. Increased funding was highly correlated with the presence of quality standards or a quality framework, in particular. </p><p>The commitment of a city or county leader to afterschool coordination was also important, as it was in 2013. Eighty percent of the cities that were still coordinating in 2020 characterized their current leaders as moderately or highly committed to afterschool coordination. There was a significant association between a high or moderate level of commitment and having a common data system in 2020.</p><p><strong>You found that at least three-quarters of the cities that were doing afterschool coordination in 2013 sustained their systems. What about the ones that didn’t? Were you able to identify possible reasons these cities dropped their systems?</strong> </p><p>A review of data collected for the 2013 study suggests that in some of these cities afterschool coordination was not firmly established (eight had one or none of the key coordination components). Another reason was turnover in city leadership, which brought with it changing priorities that resulted in decreases in funding for, and commitment of leadership to, afterschool coordination. In two cities, systematic afterschool coordination became part of broader collective impact initiatives. </p><p><strong>You found that more afterschool systems had a common data system and a quality framework or set of quality standards in 2020 than in 2013, but fewer had a designated entity responsible for coordination. What do you make of these changes, particularly the latter?</strong></p><p>Our finding that fewer cities had a designated coordinating entity in 2020 than in 2013 was surprising. Our survey question listed eight options covering different governance structures and organizational homes, so we’re fairly confident that the question wasn’t misinterpreted. We can only speculate about reasons for the change. It’s been suggested that mature systems may no longer see the need for a coordinating entity, which may be expensive to maintain. A coordinating entity such as a foundation or a United Way may have changed priorities, and systems may have collectively decided to operate without one, distributing leadership tasks among partners. Or cities may have been in the process of replacing the coordinating entity. This is one of those instances in which researchers generally call for further inquiry.</p><p>While it wasn’t within the scope of this study to investigate reasons for the increase in data systems and quality standards, we can speculate about why this occurred. More than half the cities that sustained their systems experienced increased funding, and that probably facilitated the development of both data systems and quality standards. One possibility is that, with the growing emphasis on accountability in the education and nonprofit sectors, funders may be calling for more supporting data. It’s also possible that cities or school systems decided to incorporate afterschool data into their own systems. It’s interesting to note that some respondents in cities without data systems were investigating them. </p><p>As for quality standards and assessment tools, we learned from anecdotal reports that cities had adopted templates and received training offered by outside vendors or state or regional afterschool networks, more so than came to our attention in 2013. </p><p><strong>In the context of the pandemic and the racial justice movement, what do you hope that cities will take away from this report?</strong>&#160;</p><p>The findings of this study present a picture of progress in afterschool coordination <em>before</em> the full impact of the challenges caused by the pandemic and the reckoning with social injustice and inequality. We’ve since learned that systems have renewed their commitment to ensuring the growing numbers of children and youth living in marginalized communities have access to high quality afterschool and summer programming that meets their social-emotional needs. Statewide out-of-school-time organizations and others have rapidly gathered and disseminated resources and tools to aid the response of afterschool providers and coordinating entities. Some intermediary organizations have shifted to meeting immediate needs, while others have found opportunities to partner more deeply with education leaders and policymakers to help plan ways to reconfigure and rebuild afterschool services.</p><p>This study gives us reason to believe that cities with coordinated afterschool programs will be in a strong position to weather these times because of their shared vision, collective wisdom, standards of quality, and ability to collect and use data to assess need and plan for the future. Not surprisingly, funding and city leadership continue to be important facilitators for building robust systems, and respondents in both new and emerging systems expressed a desire for resources related to these and other topics.​<br></p>Wallace editorial team792021-03-11T05:00:00ZYour source for research and ideas to expand high quality learning and enrichment opportunities. Supporting: School Leadership, After School, Summer and Extended Learning Time, Arts Education and Building Audiences for the Arts.3/11/2021 4:49:54 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Survey of Large Cities Shows Afterschool Systems Have Staying Power Authors of new report discuss why cities that 433https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Keeping Kids Learning and Connected this Fall24471GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​In response to the coronavirus pandemic last March, schools across the country closed their doors and pivoted quickly to distance learning. School and district leaders scrambled to distribute paper packets, devices and mobile hotspots, as well as to get students connected to free or inexpensive broadband internet. Inequities became apparent almost immediately as many students faced challenges accessing online classes. </p><p>With many schools now starting the new year in a hybrid or fully digital model, we took a look at how school leaders are building on lessons learned from the spring, testing out innovative approaches to digital learning and ensuring that students, particularly those who are most vulnerable, have what they need to be successful. </p><p><strong>The digital divide is not a new phenomenon</strong> </p><p>The digital divide—also known as “the homework gap”—existed long before the pandemic. A 2019 Pew Research Center study found that a third of rural Americans said they did not have a broadband internet connection at home. Ownership of desktop or laptop computers among rural Americans has only risen slightly since 2008. A Pew Research Center analysis of 2015 U.S. Census Bureau data showed that one in five school-aged children do not have high-speed internet in their home; that number increases to one in three when focused on children from low-income households. </p><p>Many district leaders, like Superintendent Robert Runcie in Broward County, Fla., had been working to eliminate this gap over the past several years and were therefore better positioned for the shift to distance learning last March. (Broward is one of six districts that participated in The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Supervisor Initiative.) The district had invested in infrastructure including a single sign-on system for teachers and staff; a learning management system called Canvas, which allowed for blended learning and sharing of ideas and curricula across the district; and a decreased ratio of students to computers, shifting from 6&#58;1 to 1&#58;1, effectively. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 993de807-2551-40a5-927c-68767f169871" id="div_993de807-2551-40a5-927c-68767f169871" unselectable="on"></div><div id="vid_993de807-2551-40a5-927c-68767f169871" unselectable="on" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p><strong>Making the call this fall</strong> </p><p>The unprecedented crisis and limited federal guidance meant that district leaders faced complex decisions about whether or how to open their buildings. <br> “And that was, in some cases, at the expense of time and energy focused on making virtual learning as good as it can be,” said Allison Socol, assistant director of P-12 policy at The Education Trust (one of Wallace’s communications partners) and co-author of a report on promising digital learning practices from districts across the country.<br></p><p>Runcie started planning at the end of last spring for the very real possibility school would still be virtual in the fall. His team worked to understand best practices and recommendations for re-opening from other school systems across the country and around the world. At the time, infection rates in Florida were increasing and he knew his district was nowhere near ready to re-open in person. Schools opened in August with 100 percent virtual learning. </p><p><strong>Lessons learned so far this fall </strong></p><p>In Broward, with devices distributed and access to internet supported by partnerships with Comcast and AT&amp;T, Runcie turned his attention toward teachers. <br> “We wanted to make sure that there was a consistent level of high-quality education experiences online this year,” he said. </p><p>His district spent the summer training teachers to be more confident and effective using the online platform and tools. They found that some teachers had already risen to “master expert” level when it came to using these tools, and tapped their newfound expertise to help build capacity of others.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read cbf51070-8093-4f8c-8540-c5f5f9b8a905" id="div_cbf51070-8093-4f8c-8540-c5f5f9b8a905"></div><div id="vid_cbf51070-8093-4f8c-8540-c5f5f9b8a905" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p>Despite the number of challenges school leaders face, Socol notes that school and district leaders have “really rise(n) to the occasion … and marshalled all of their resources and all of their people to meet the needs of students who are most struggling.” </p><p>A report Socol co-wrote in collaboration with Digital Promise, “<a href="https&#58;//s3-us-east-2.amazonaws.com/edtrustmain/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/06163247/10-Questions-for-Equity-Advocates-to-Ask-About-Distance-Learning-During-COVID-19-May-2020.pdf">With Schools Closed and Distance Learning the Norm, How is Your District Meeting the Needs of Its Students</a>?,” compiles innovative strategies and best practices districts are using to improve digital learning, particularly for their most vulnerable students. Some highlights include&#58;</p><ul><li>New Orleans distributed tens of thousands of Chromebooks, making students experiencing homelessness a priority</li><li>New York City Public Schools partnered with Apple and T-Mobile to provide LTE-enabled iPads to students</li><li>Rock Hill Public Schools in South Carolina provided curbside IT support outside of school buildings</li><li>Highline Public Schools in Washington state and Austin school districts sent wifi-equipped buses to apartment complexes and neighborhoods where students struggled with internet access</li><li>In Phoenix Union High School District, district leaders instituted a program in which an adult contacts every student every day to ensure they and their families have what they need </li><li>In New Orleans and San Francisco, free student support hubs involve adults besides classroom teachers in helping students with digital learning in small group settings</li></ul><p>Socol notes that sharing these ideas across state borders is an important role that state leaders can play. </p><p>“We would love to see state leaders think about how to collect information about what districts are doing, to track data on the success of these new initiatives…and then to help share those practices with other districts that are still trying to figure out how to help students learn in this moment,” she said.</p><p><strong>Prioritizing historically underserved students </strong></p><p>Despite school leaders’ best efforts to equip students with the devices they need to participate in digital learning, there is more work to be done, particularly for students of color and those from low-income households. </p><p>“There are so many other challenges besides just having a computer or an iPad or the internet,” Socol points out. “Students need a quiet space in order to participate and engage in online instruction. They need access to support if their internet’s down…. Younger students may need an adult there to help them access the instruction online.” </p><p>Runcie is still focused on helping Broward students who are struggling with basic needs, who may be left at home alone at a young age or who may be facing abuse. Part of Broward’s distance learning planning includes ensuring that social services are maintained. Since June, Runcie reports that social workers have provided 160,000 interventions in response to over 36,000 referrals. </p><p>Socol encourages school and district leaders to focus their efforts and energies on thinking of those students most underserved by the public school system. Some districts, such as Arlington Public Schools in Virginia, are planning to phase in in-person learning, starting with students with disabilities, English-language learners and those from low-income families. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-wpbox"><div class="ms-rtestate-notify ms-rtestate-read 4b2e35fe-f919-4974-b122-ce83c3732288" id="div_4b2e35fe-f919-4974-b122-ce83c3732288"></div><div id="vid_4b2e35fe-f919-4974-b122-ce83c3732288" style="display&#58;none;"></div></div><p><strong>Advice for other school leaders </strong></p><p>Communication and transparency are at the top of Runcie’s priority list this fall, and he urges other district leaders to focus on the same.&#160;&#160;</p><p>“Communicate, communicate, communicate. Do it with integrity and be transparent, straight up with the community, what challenges you’re facing, what the approaches are and make sure you’re listening to them,” Runcie said. </p><p>His district conducted three major surveys of families. They held town halls and forums, partnering closely with the PTA, the special needs student advisory council and the school board. </p><p>Socol echoed the need to communicate regularly and honestly, adding a call for data collection. She hopes to see schools and districts conducting diagnostic assessments at the beginning of the school year to understand where students are and what they need to make up for lost instructional time. “And we need to see continued communication and transparency from school systems about how [distance learning] is going,” she added. </p><p>Finally, Runcie would like to see his fellow superintendents invest in technology, which includes both infrastructure and training for teachers and staff.&#160;</p><p>“Digital learning is something I believe is going to be here with us for the long run,” he said, noting that many children may have underlying health conditions or live in multigenerational households, factors that could keep them at home even if schools reopen their doors for in-person learning. “I think it’s something that you’ve got to commit to do, because I think it’s going to be part of our portfolio of offerings and the type of flexibility that we need to have in public education going forward.”</p>Wallace editorial team792020-09-29T04:00:00ZAs the new school year kicks off—mostly virtually—how far have districts come since March in providing a strong online learning experience for students?9/29/2020 6:11:56 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Keeping Kids Learning and Connected this Fall As the new school year kicks off—mostly virtually—how far have districts come 537https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Pandemic Brings challenges (and Opportunities) for Arts Education28602GP0|#d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8;L0|#0d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8|Arts Education;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​“My theme today is adaptation,” said Bahia Ramos, Wallace’s director of the arts, on a recent webinar hosted by Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA). “By that I mean a special kind of change. A change that makes a practice better suited to its environment.”</p><p>This environment, of course, is the one we are now six months into, where the COVID-19 pandemic, economic insecurity and uprisings for racial justice have transformed life in this country. For the students and teachers in arts learning programs, this has meant a total pivot, everything from transitioning to online learning and virtual convenings to teaching artists being laid off at extremely high rates. These changes and much more&#160;came up in the GIA webinar, where Ramos spoke along with Kimberly Olsen, executive director of NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and Alex Nock, principal of Penn Hill Group.<br> </p><p><strong>Adaptation at BGCA</strong></p><p>Back in 2014, Wallace and three Boys &amp; Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) in the Midwest embarked upon the Youth Arts Initiative to discover if <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/something-to-say-success-principles-for-afterschool-arts-programs.aspx">10 principles drawn from the nation’s best, specialty afterschool arts programs</a> could be applied within a general youth-serving organization better known for its sports programs. No one knew if it would work, but over the five years of the initiative, the clubs did <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/designing-for-engagement-the-experiences-of-tweens-in-the-boys-and-girls-clubs’-youth-arts-initiative.aspx">manage to successfully implement high-quality art skill-development programs</a> as defined by the Ten Principles for Success. Additionally, the retention rates for young people in the initiative was <em>twice </em>that of young people who were not in the program.</p><p>YAI is now in its second wave in five cities, testing whether the Ten Principles can be adapted to a lower-cost model. Clubs designed several new strategies, such as hiring assistants for teaching artists and focusing on lower-cost art forms, and initial results were promising. </p><p>Then COVID-19 changed everything. </p><p>“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on arts and culture and the education system at large,” Kimberly Olsen said in her presentation.&#160;According to Olsen, drastic budget cuts due to the pandemic have fallen disproportionately on arts education, impacting cultural organizations, their ability to serve students and also trickling down to&#160;their&#160;teaching artists. </p><p><strong>The Impact on Teaching Artists</strong></p><p>“Before the pandemic we knew that teaching artists were at risk,” Olsen said. According to a <a href="https&#58;//dataarts.smu.edu/artsresearch2014/articles/blog-white-papers/covid-19-impact-nonprofit-arts-and-culture-new-york-city">recent DataArts survey</a>, teaching artists have been laid off at high rates, with a 78% decrease in artist staffing at NYC-based organizations as of May 8; of the 5,000 teaching artists who responded to the survey, 96% have experienced a loss of income.</p><p>Amazingly, Ramos said, four of the five BGCA clubs have managed to keep all of their teaching artist staff. “We continued our funding of teaching artists and programs in our clubs regardless of whether they were opened or closed,” she explained. This enabled BGCA to launch a new program called “Creates” with a special website and tips on maximizing limited budgets, arts projects and program assessment.</p><p>Sadly, not all organizations have been as lucky. According to the same survey by SMU DataArts referenced above, over 25% of organizations stated that they have laid off or furloughed their staff and artist workforce, and 11% of organizations indicated that they do not think they will survive the COVID-19 crisis.</p><p>“Our city announced a draft budget that saw tremendous cuts to arts education funding that would not only jeopardize the city’s recovery process, but limit both school and cultural organizations’ capacity to serve and engage young people while disproportionately impacting these nonprofit cultural organizations as well as students from low income communities,” Olsen explained.</p><p>As a result, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable launched an efficacy campaign called <a href="https&#58;//nycaieroundtable.org/arts-are-essential/">Arts Are Essential</a>, with the goal of preserving arts education funding and investing in the community. “With all of this in mind, it&#160;means that organizations must be flexible,” Olsen said. “Flexibility means survival.”</p><p>Early lessons are emerging from BGCA’s new program as well. “Some downsides are clear – going online caused attention spans to be shorter, hours had to be reduced, fewer youth are joining, and as with regular school, lack of technology is a problem for some,” Ramos explained. “But there are some unexpected upsides like new opportunities to engage with parents; older youth have come in providing leadership roles, and youth are reporting that they feel more emotionally safe doing work at home.”</p><p><strong>Heading Toward Recovery</strong></p><p>According to Olsen, the arts and culture sector and teaching artists are going to play a huge part in the recovery of schools and communities. So how can philanthropy support artists who have been hit the hardest? </p><p>Given the very real threats to teaching artists and to arts learning programs overall, the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable encourages philanthropy to take the following action steps&#58;<br></p><ul><li>Include teaching artists in conversations and decision-making processes as the arts sector is redefined </li><li>Invest resources in emergency funding to grant immediate direct-to-individual support for teaching artists to offset the disproportional financial impact </li><li>Ensure that funding language and programs include teaching artists</li><li>Examine longstanding siloed funding priorities</li><li>Ensure arts organizations that are being funded compensate teaching artists with fair wages<br></li></ul><p>Penn Hill Group’s Alex Nock added another way for organizations to take advantage of potential funding&#58; The <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/unpacking-the-federal-response-to-covid-19-in-education.aspx">Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act</a>. Its provisions include more than $30 billion for K-12 and higher education programs; more than $4 billion for early childhood education; and other supports such as forgivable loans to nonprofits, including many providers of afterschool or summer programs. It also expanded states’ ability to provide Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, including for gig economy workers and individuals like artists, who would not ordinarily be eligible. </p><p>Nock spoke about other important pieces of COVID relief that affect artists and the art world in general. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided flexibility and additional funding for state unemployment insurance agencies to respond to COVID-19. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act provided $319 billion to replenish the program created under the CARES Act, in&#160;which loans to small businesses and nonprofits&#160;may be forgiven if businesses maintain their payroll.&#160; </p><p>Looking ahead to next year, Nock said that&#160;the House had passed the majority of its 2021 appropriations bills in two packages, which included moderate increases, but said we can expect&#160;the&#160;appropriations to&#160;be wrapped up after the November&#160;election. He is hopeful that the next package of COVID federal funding will include more money for education.</p><p>Whatever happens with the funding going forward, Olsen emphasized that collaboration, flexibility and adaptation will help the sector survive and thrive.&#160;“While it’s been a hard time for the arts in education community, the field is resilient,” she said. “They’re creative, and they are driven to support their students in whatever way they can. We’re seeing opportunities and potential growing each day.”</p>Wallace editorial team792020-09-22T04:00:00ZRecent webinar discusses how teaching artists and cultural institutions are responding to COVID-19 and beyond9/22/2020 6:03:29 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Pandemic Brings challenges (and Opportunities) for Arts Education Recent webinar discusses how teaching artists and 1790https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
What the Pandemic Means for Summer Learning-And How Policymakers Can Help24122GP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>This is a challenging and uncertain time for everyone. Schools are beginning to adapt to the realities of the current crisis brought on by the global coronavirus pandemic, but what about summer learning programs? Summer programs have always played an important role in supporting students who fall behind academically, but with so many young people across the country losing vital learning time, they may be important than ever. Yet organizers of summer programs face a host of unknowns, including whether they will be able to serve students at all in the coming months and, if so, how. </p><p><img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Catherine-Augustine.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/what-the-pandemic-means-for-summer-learning-and-how-policymakers-can-help/Catherine-Augustine.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" />One thing that doesn’t have to be an unknown is the way government policies—federal, state, city and school district—both help and limit summer learning efforts. <em><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/getting-support-for-summer-learning-policies-affect-summer-learning-programs.aspx">Getting Support for Summer Learning</a></em>, a new report from the RAND Corporation, offers information and advice to aid summer learning leaders in securing and maintaining support for their programs. We talked to Catherine Augustine, one of the report’s authors, about applying the lessons of the report in this unprecedented moment.</p><p><strong>What is the outlook for summer learning during this very difficult period?</strong></p><p>For this coming summer, some programs are canceling altogether, some are pivoting to be 100 percent virtual and others are hoping to continue in person. It’s likely that most will cancel. For those shifting to online experiences, it’s important to capture how that goes. Are they reaching kids? Are kids attending regularly? Are they benefiting and in what ways? Documenting what goes well in the summer would be useful to schools because they’re likely to continue at least some virtual offerings in the fall. Schools are already learning a lot about virtual learning, of course, but school leaders might gain insights from summer programs about offering virtual enrichment classes like art, music and even physical education.</p><p>Hopefully, summer programs can be in full swing and “normal” in summer 2021. At that point, they should be a critical tool for helping those students who are falling behind now to catch up. Districts and schools should soon begin aggressively planning to serve more kids than they typically do in summer 2021 and focusing their summer programs on the skills students need to gain to catch up to their counterparts.</p><p><strong>We know that students are losing a significant amount of learning time this school year and may lose more in the school year to come. We also know that inequities between poor families and more affluent families are worsening during this period. Given these conditions, should policymakers be thinking differently about summer learning?</strong></p><p>Yes. I hope policymakers come to see summer 2021 as incredibly important for catching up those students who are now falling behind and make sure there is adequate funding and support for school districts to expand the number of students served next summer in high-quality programs.</p><p><strong>As we approach the time when summer programs would typically open, summer learning leaders are facing great uncertainty. Are there any lessons from the report that are particularly relevant to the current situation?</strong></p><p>In the report, we advise summer program organizers to try to ensure that district leaders understand the importance of summer programming, so they can make it a priority in their budget meetings and decisions about how to spend general operating or Title I dollars, or about what outside grants to pursue. This is even more critical now. As districts are scrambling to meet students’ immediate learning and other needs, they’re probably not thinking about summer programming. But if summer programs aren’t planned in advance, it’s unlikely they’ll be high quality. Program leaders should do what they can to ensure they have funding in hand or pledged for summer 2021 by the end of this calendar year so that they can start planning. </p><p><strong>What steps can states take policy-wise to help communities use summer effectively as a time for learning? What steps can districts take? Cities?</strong></p><p>Some states, like Texas, have recently established new funding streams for extending school time, including in the summer. Other states might want to replicate these laws, given the importance of focusing on children who are now falling behind. States will also have the opportunity to hold back a small portion of the K-12 funding that they will pass on to districts from the federal Education Stabilization Fund [part of the federal <a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/the-cares-act.aspx">CARES Act stimulus package</a>]. They could use that funding to incentivize district-led summer programs. Districts can use this stabilization funding for summer programming, too, although it’s likely that at this point their priority is technology, which is critical for their online learning efforts. City budgets are likely to be more strained than is typical in the next year, but cities that offer jobs programs might continue to support those programs and should advocate for that funding if it’s at risk. Summer jobs programs have been <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/investing-in-successful-summer-programs-essa-review.aspx">demonstrated to have several positive outcomes</a>, including less risky and illegal behavior on the part of participants. At-risk youth will likely need these programs more than ever in 2021 if small businesses in their communities close. </p><p><strong>What, if anything, is known about virtual forms of summer learning, which may be the best option for many programs this summer?</strong></p><p>Districts have had success delivering credit recovery summer programs to high school students in online form. But those programs are more akin to school with a focus on academic learning, rather than the enrichment activities typically offered in summer programs. If summer programs do attempt to replicate enrichment activities online, they’re likely to do so with small groups of students who take breaks to create on their own or with another student online and then return to the group to share what they have done through a video exchange. Students might, for example, create a video to be shared with the rest of the group. Teachers can ensure that students have time to present their thoughts and have a say in what they learn and experience. To support social and emotional learning, teachers can hold virtual restorative practice circles [i.e., dialogues in which students and teachers respond to challenging behavior and try to “make things right”] by asking students to respond to a prompt. Some teachers who are already leading online classes are using props such as wheels that display various emotions to start conversations about how students are feeling.</p><p>All of this is new, so we have few roadmaps to follow. But I have faith in those who teach in <a href="/knowledge-center/summer-learning/pages/default.aspx">summer programs </a>. If anyone can find creative ways to continue to engage children during the summer, they can. And the rest of us should follow along and learn from their trailblazing. </p>Wallace editorial team792020-05-14T04:00:00ZRAND’s Catherine Augustine discusses a new report on the summer learning policy landscape and what lies ahead for summer programs8/27/2020 3:12:11 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / What the Pandemic Means for Summer Learning-And How Policymakers Can Help RAND’s Catherine Augustine discusses a new report 2346https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

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