Wallace Blog Search Results

Search Blogs by Keyword
Browse by Date
clear all

 

 

Understanding the Effects of Building a Principal Pipeline Strategy11926GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>On this day one year ago educators from around the country came to New York City to celebrate the launch of the RAND Corporation’s report <em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">Principal Pipelines&#58; A Feasible, Affordable, and Effective Way for Districts to Improve Schools</a></em><em>.</em> The report, which examined the impact of a strategic approach to school leader development in the six large districts that took part in Wallace’s Principal Pipeline Initiative, found a positive impact on student achievement and principal retention. </p><p>A lot has happened since we released the findings, and it’s no understatement to say a lot has happened in the world around us as well. Still, we thought this day was worthy of note, both to acknowledge the significance of the original findings and the work they have inspired. </p><p>In late 2019, we <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/effectively-communicating-about-principal-pipelines.aspx">commissioned market research</a> to better understand how state and local educators view pipelines, the benefits they deemed most important and any barriers that prevented them from implementing the approach. This could ultimately help us and others in the field communicate more effectively about pipelines. The main takeaway&#58; The researchers found that the response to the principal pipeline approach to developing a robust corps of effective school leaders is “resoundingly positive.” However, a key challenge in advancing pipelines is differentiating what some districts are doing now from the deliberate and comprehensive approach encompassed in the domains of the principal pipeline strategy. There’s much more in the deck for those interested in the language we use to define school leadership and what it means to different people. </p><p>Meanwhile, we’ve been working with 90 school districts in 31 states to test and spread the lessons learned from the Principal Pipeline Initiative. The 90 districts have signed on to test a tool kit that guides how they hire, train and match principals. Read more about the initiative <a href="https&#58;//www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/02/10/6-districts-invested-in-principals-and-saw.html">here</a> and stay tuned for results in the fall.&#160; Finally, later this year, we will release a literature review on the connection between school leadership and student achievement. </p><p>And if you’re still looking for more on the Principal Pipeline, visit our <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">Pipeline Page</a> for all things related to the groundbreaking report and the work behind it. </p><p> <em>Photo by </em><a href="http&#58;//www.claireholtphotography.com/"><em>Claire Holt</em></a> </p>Wallace editorial team792020-04-08T04:00:00ZThe learning continues one year after the launch of RAND’s groundbreaking report on school leadership4/8/2020 4:44:39 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Understanding the Effects of Building a Principal Pipeline Strategy The learning continues one year after the launch of https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
How Communities Can Put Data to Work for Young People15385GP0|#b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211;L0|#0b804f37e-c5dd-4433-a644-37b51bb2e211|Afterschool;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​“Show me the numbers.” It’s a refrain that’s sure to be familiar to those who work hard to create enriching afterschool and summer experiences for young people. Funders and civic leaders want data demonstrating how their dollars are making a difference. Program providers want to use data to get better and make a case for public support. Often, they rely on intermediaries—nonprofit organizations that coordinate out-of-school-time (OST) efforts and resources in a community—to oversee the data gathering and analysis. But what if intermediaries are gathering the wrong data in the wrong way? </p><p>As part of a project spearheaded by Every Hour Counts, a coalition representing intermediaries, the RAND Corporation explored how three of the nation’s most mature intermediaries gather and use data. RAND reviewed the quality of the data the organizations collected, the measurement tools and databases they used and more. The result was the recently published <em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/putting-data-to-work-for-young-people.aspx">Putting Data to Work for Young People&#58; A Ten-Step Guide for Expanded Learning Intermediaries</a></em>. Developed with support from Wallace and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the guide offers practical advice on gathering and working with data to improve decision making. </p><p>Every Hour Counts Executive Director Jessica Donner, along with the heads of the three intermediaries that participated in the project—Erik Skold of Sprockets in St. Paul, Minn., Hillary Salmons of the Providence After School Alliance, and Chris Smith of Boston After School &amp; Beyond—provided us with their take on the power of data and what intermediaries and others in the field can do to harness it. </p><p> <strong>What is the problem this guide is intended to solve?</strong></p><p> <strong> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Jessica.jfif" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/How-Communities-Can-Put-Data-to-Work-for-Young-People/Jessica.jfif" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;168px;height&#58;212px;" />Donner&#58;</strong>&#160;Over the course of our project with RAND and the three intermediaries, we learned that data use is messy, much more so than we anticipated. A number of key questions came up, like, What youth outcomes should we measure to show the impact our out-of-school-time programs are having? What’s the best approach for sharing data with providers and schools? How do we act on data in a timely and meaningful way? We developed the guide to answer those questions and to help intermediaries and others deal with common data-related challenges.</p><p> <strong>Why is it important for intermediaries to be able to work with data effectively? What does effective data work look like?</strong></p><p> <strong> <span> <span> <span> <span> <img class="wf-Image-Right" alt="Erik.jfif" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/How-Communities-Can-Put-Data-to-Work-for-Young-People/Erik.jfif" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;167px;" /></span></span></span></span>Skold&#58;</strong> Data is a space where intermediaries can really add value to the field.&#160;Youth-serving organizations often lack the time and capacity to<span></span> effectively collect, analyze and use data. Intermediaries can provide them with the systems, tools and processes to help them better understand what’s happening in their programs and make improvements.&#160;Intermediaries can also aggregate&#160;data from across programs to tell a broader story about what’s happening in a city or a system.&#160;That allows for larger community conversations about how best to support youth and helps policymakers and other stakeholders analyze gaps and needs and think about how to prioritize investments.</p><p> <strong> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Chris.jfif" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/How-Communities-Can-Put-Data-to-Work-for-Young-People/Chris.jfif" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;259px;height&#58;173px;" />Smith&#58;</strong> Data is one way for us to know, as a city, if we are effective in our work of providing high-quality opportunities for students to grow in their knowledge and skills. It can shine a light on what we're doing well and what we need to work on, and help programs across the city build capacity together. </p><p> <strong>How should intermediaries get started working with data? What's the first step?</strong></p><p> <strong>Donner&#58;</strong> There is an overwhelming plethora of data out there for intermediaries to consider so the first step for intermediaries, as noted in the report, is to do some hard thinking about the purpose of the data gathering. Then, we hope communities will turn to the <a href="https&#58;//static1.squarespace.com/static/5b199ed585ede1153ef29e8a/t/5b19a09e2b6a28c655798a25/1528406174521/Every+Hour+Counts+Measurement+Framework.pdf">Every Hour Counts Measurement Framework</a>, a tool that our organization has developed (and is revising) to &#160;streamline and simplify a data collection process that can be daunting. The framework lays out what we’ve assessed as the most valuable outcomes for out-of-school-time system builders to measure, how to measure them and the research base for each. The framework has an intentional tri-level focus on a small number of system-, program- and youth-level outcomes that we hope communities will achieve as a result of building local expanded-learning systems. Informed by our work with RAND and our network, we are releasing a revised Framework in 2020 that further distills the outcomes into an even more manageable and focused list for intermediaries. </p><p>We advise communities to tread lightly when it comes to measuring youth outcomes. Systems are ultimately developed to support young people, so there’s a natural desire to want to measure the impact of your investment. But positive youth outcomes develop through multiple experiences over the course of a lifetime. We encourage systems to start by focusing on promoting and measuring the conditions that research has shown to improve youth outcomes&#58; program design, high-quality program implementation and frequent attendance. </p><p> <strong>What are the biggest data-related challenges that OST intermediaries face?</strong></p><p> <strong>Skold&#58;</strong> One of the biggest challenges is working with large amounts of data from various program models.&#160;Aggregating&#160;and making meaning of data collected from programs of varying focus, length and age groups is difficult.&#160;It can be especially difficult when trying to demonstrate the impact that the programs and the intermediary are having on participants.&#160;Intermediaries need to be very thoughtful about what data they’re collecting from programs and what types of data to aggregate.&#160; </p><p> <strong>Donner&#58;</strong> Out-of-school-time intermediaries, and they aren’t alone in this, don’t know what they don’t know. Data work is complex, and without tremendous in-house data expertise, it’s hard to know what questions to ask, where to start and where there are missed opportunities for efficiencies. Intermediaries need to develop an infrastructure to do data work well, and that takes support, financial and in-kind, from public and private partners. </p><p> <strong>What’s one piece of advice you would give to other intermediaries to help them get better at working with data?</strong></p><p> <strong> <img class="wf-Image-Left" alt="Hillary.jfif" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/How-Communities-Can-Put-Data-to-Work-for-Young-People/Hillary.jfif" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;110px;height&#58;165px;" />Salmons&#58;</strong> Take the changes one step at a time. While you may have an ultimate vision to guide you towards where you want to be, understand that each step along the way requires thoughtful planning, trial, reflection and improvement. That way, you can set clear goals of what to accomplish within a set time period; be honest with your partners and stakeholders about what’s realistic within the coming months and years; and make sure that each data improvement you make is meeting their needs. </p><p> <strong>Smith&#58;</strong> As early as you can manage it, set up a system that makes it easier for programs to collect and submit data and designate intermediary staff who can devote time and attention to answering questions, troubleshooting and helping programs see the importance of continuous improvement.</p><p> <strong>How can intermediaries use the guide to get better at working with data? What are some of the most useful tips that came out of the research? </strong></p><p> <strong>Donner&#58;</strong> One of the most important tips featured in this guide is for intermediaries to find a way to have in an in-house point person for data—even if they work with an outside research firm or university. Due to the complexity of data collection, the intense nature of collaboration with stakeholders and the likelihood of mistakes, we’ve learned it’s a good idea to have a person on the team who’s dedicated to using data effectively and efficiently and, above all, thinking about the right questions to move the work forward. </p><p>Another recommendation from the guide is to start by making a list of your key stakeholders, what they need or want to know and how they’re likely to use the information. That advice is everything. We hear time and again that the mayor or superintendent asks a particular question, and intermediaries want to be at the ready with attendance, retention and other stats. So how do you get in front of that, anticipate questions and design a system that gets you the data you need to answer them? The guide has template—data needs for program directors—to help. </p><p><em>Top photo&#58; Youth race cardboard boats they designed and built in one of the many out-of-school time offerings in Providence. Photo courtesy of the Providence After School Alliance.</em> </p> <p></p><p> <em>For more information, see these publications on <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/afterschool-programs-a-review-of-evidence-under-the-every-student-succeeds-act.aspx">afterschool</a> and <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/investing-in-successful-summer-programs-essa-review.aspx">summer programs</a> for a review of evidence about out-of-school-time programming. These Wallace Perspectives offer insights on <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/summer-a-time-for-learning-five-lessons-from-school-districts-and-their-partners-about-running-successful-programs.aspx">summer</a> and <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/growing-together-learning-together.aspx">afterschool</a> as well.</em></p>Wallace editorial team792020-01-28T05:00:00ZYour 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.1/28/2020 2:53:42 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / How Communities Can Put Data to Work for Young People Four leaders in the out-of-school-time field offer practical advice 771https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
What It Takes to Make Summer a Time of Growth for All Young People 3627GP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​The phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child” has become commonplace in our society. Ask a researcher, though, and she might put a twist on the adage, saying, “It takes a <em>system</em> to raise a child.” In other words, children and young people are either helped or held back by the social, economic and physical conditions in which they live, and those conditions depend on an interconnected array of institutions, including schools, parks, public transit, the police and the courts, not to mention the family. Take summer learning&#58; There may be an enriching summer program in your community, but if there’s no public transportation that goes there, the streets aren’t safe for your children to walk alone, and you work two jobs and can’t take time off to accompany them, then as far as your family is concerned, it may as well not be there at all.</p><p>Showing how different parts of the system influence the way children and young people experience summertime is just one of the achievements of a landmark report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. <em><a href="/knowledge-center/pages/national-academy-of-sciences-report-on-summer-learning.aspx">Shaping Summertime Experiences</a></em>—funded by Wallace and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and authored by the Academies’ Committee on Summertime Experiences and Child and Adolescent Education, Health and Safety—examines the state of the evidence on summer and children in America, with a focus on the availability, accessibility, equity and effectiveness of summer learning experiences. The report, released this fall, also shines a light on the experiences of groups that are often left out of the conversation about summer learning, including LGBTQ youth, those living in rural areas and those involved in the juvenile justice system.</p><p><img src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-It-Takes-to-Make-Summer-a-Time-of-Growth-for-All-Young-People/mccombs_jennifer_5_300.jpg" alt="mccombs_jennifer_5_300.jpg" class="wf-Image-Left" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;238px;height&#58;298px;" />We talked to one of the report’s authors, Jennifer Sloan McCombs of the RAND Corporation, about how the publication came together and what it has to say to those who play a part in shaping the system.</p><p><strong>What is the unique contribution of this report to the discourse on summer learning?</strong><br> <br> The report investigates the effect that summer has on school-aged children and youth across four domains of well-being&#58; academic learning, social and emotional development, physical and mental health, and safety. We approached this charge from a “systems perspective,” examining the way people associated with various sectors—including education, city government, public safety, summer camp and families—contribute to the risks and rewards of summertime for children and youth. The recommendations are targeted to policymakers at the city, state and federal level, but we believe the report can be useful to practitioners, nongovernmental funders and scholars, too. <br> <br> <strong>What was the process of putting the report together? What types of information did the committee consider? What types of people and organizations did it seek out?</strong><br> <br> The National Academies of Sciences formed a multidisciplinary committee with expertise that included pediatric medicine, youth development, summer and out-of-school programming, safety and justice, city systems building, and private employment. It was an amazing group of dedicated scholars and practitioners. I learned a lot from each of them. We met periodically over a year to discuss issues, listen to invited experts in public information sessions and develop recommendations. We specifically sought out data that would address the key aspects of our charge&#58; the effects of summer on the developmental trajectories of young people, access to summer programs and the effectiveness of summer programs.&#160;Where we lacked data or needed additional context to help our understanding, we reached out to individuals and organizations who could help fill those gaps. For instance, during public information-gathering sessions, we heard from those with expertise in rural programs and policies, American Indian programs, and private employer interests and activities related to summer programs.&#160; <br> <br> While members of the committee drafted the report chapters, the committee chair and NAS staff did a significant amount of work in the final production of the report, including editing, summarizing, fleshing out recommendations and weaving the report together. <br> <br> <strong>One of the focuses of the report is inequity in access to summer learning and in outcomes for a variety of groups—not just black and Latino students and those from low-income families but also Native Americans, LGBTQ students, students living in rural areas, differently abled students, among others. How can providers, policymakers and funders begin to think about issues of equity pertaining to summer learning?</strong><br> <br> Based on the evidence, three things were clear to the committee&#58;&#160;1) Summer is a time of risks and opportunities for children and youth; however, those risks and opportunities are not equitably spread across populations.&#160;Children and youth who are less advantaged face greater risks in terms of safety, health, and nutrition and have reduced access to quality summer experiences. 2) To be effective, programs need to be aligned to community context and needs. 3) Certain populations of children and youth appear to be underserved and are definitely understudied, such as those who are American Indian, LGBTQ, migrant and refugee, or involved in the juvenile justice system.<br> <br> To create more equitable experiences during the summer, we recommend that local governments conduct a needs assessment—one that gathers input from families and youth—in order to fully understand what the community needs and what barriers stand in the way. They should also do a systematic inventory of the programming available in the community and compare it to the needs assessment so they can identify gaps that need to be filled and priorities for public and private funding.&#160; &#160;<br> <br> Individual program directors can also take action by looking at the population of children and youth they currently serve, identifying and addressing barriers to participation that certain groups may face, and engaging families and youth in the development of program content to ensure that it meets their needs and builds on their cultural strengths, including language, life experiences and culturally specific skills and values. <br> <br> <strong>How do basic needs like safety and adequate nutrition affect the way children and young people experience summertime? What is the role of summer learning programs in addressing these needs?</strong><br> <br> Safety and nutrition are basic developmental needs that must be met year-round to ensure the health and cognitive development of children and youth. Unfortunately, during the summer months, children and youth from low-income families are more likely to experience food insecurity and lack appropriate supervision. Organized summer programs can help address these basic needs and more by providing meals and engaging activities overseen by trained and caring adults. <br> <br> <strong>One of the report's conclusions is that families and communities have existing resources that can be used to provide young people with positive summer experiences. What are some examples of these resources, and how can those involved in creating, running and funding summer learning programs work with families and communities to make positive summer experiences more available and accessible?</strong><br> <br> The report describes how family structure, parental education and employment, the built environment, public safety and contact with law enforcement dynamically influence the summertime experience for children and youth. While children and youth from disadvantaged families and neighborhoods face greater challenges and risks during the summer, their families and communities also have a set of assets that can be leveraged. For instance, families are in the best position to identify the needs of their children and youth, the community context that has to be addressed to make positive summer experiences more available and accessible, and how community culture can be embedded into programming to make it more relevant to participants. </p><p><em>Vist our&#160;<a href="/knowledge-center/summer-learning/pages/default.aspx">Knowledge Center</a>&#160;to find more research on summer learning, along with downloadable, evidence-based tools to help create effective summer programs.&#160;</em><br></p> <br>Wallace editorial team792019-12-10T05:00:00ZYour 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.1/3/2020 5:59:42 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / What It Takes to Make Summer a Time of Growth for All Young People Co-author discusses landmark National Academies of 1650https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Year’s Top Blog Posts Signal Interest in SEL, School Leadership326GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61;GP0|#890cbc1f-f78a-45e7-9bf2-a5986c564667;L0|#0890cbc1f-f78a-45e7-9bf2-a5986c564667|Social and Emotional Learning;GP0|#d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8;L0|#0d2020f9f-c87c-4828-b93b-572786ae94a8|Arts Education;GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts<p>​​​​I​f we can glean any trends from our list of most popular posts published on the Wallace Blog this year, it might be&#58; Everything is connected. From arts education programs focused on urban tweens to performing arts organizations with varied audiences, the question seems to be how to get people in the door. Then once there, how to keep them…just as school districts are struggling to retain principals and might find support in RAND’s groundbreaking principal pipeline research. And speaking of school leaders, their growing concern for children’s social and emotional learning (SEL) is more evident than ever.&#160;<br></p><p>We’ve got all that and more in our Top 10 list this year, so go ahead and get connected&#58;&#160;<br></p><p> 10)&#160;<strong><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/the-benefits-of-arts-education-for-urban-tweens.aspx">The Benefits of Arts Education for Urban Tweens</a></strong><strong>&#58;</strong> Does high-quality arts programming benefit urban tweens? What does it take to recruit young people to these programs—and keep them coming back? Read highlights from this webinar hosted by The National Guild for Community Arts Education and drawn from research and practice in our Youth Arts Initiative. <br><br> 9<span style="color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;">)</span><strong> </strong><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/principal-retention-findings-from-ppi-report.aspx"><strong>Systematic Approach to Developing School Leaders Pays Off for Principal Retention</strong></a><strong>&#58;</strong> Principal turnover disrupts schools, teachers and students, and the cost to replace a principal is about $75,000. This blog post investigates the principal retention finding of &#160;<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">RAND’s groundbreaking report</a> on building principal pipelines. <br><br> 8<span style="color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;">)</span><strong> </strong><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/what-if-districts-focused-not-just-on-preparing-and-hiring-principals-but-also-retaining-them.aspx"><strong>What If Districts Focused Not Just on Preparing and Hiring Principals But Also Retaining Them</strong></a><strong>&#58;</strong> For more on principal retention, Marina Cofield, then the senior executive director of the Office of Leadership at the New York Department of Education, discusses why the nation’s largest school system decided that school leader retention mattered—and what the district did about it.<br><br> 7<span style="color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;">)</span> <strong><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/could-federal-funding-help-pay-for-arts-ed-in-your-school.aspx">Could Federal Funding Help Pay for Arts Education in Your School?</a></strong> The authors of <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/review-of-evidence-arts-education-research-essa.aspx">a report exploring research on approaches to arts education</a> under the Every Student Succeeds Act discuss the types of activities and approaches that qualify for funding, the results arts-education interventions could yield and how educators might use their report to improve arts education in their schools.<br><br> 6<span style="color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;">)</span> <strong><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/five-organizations-five-different-strategies-to-build-arts-audiences.aspx">Five Organizations, Five Different Strategies to Build Arts Audiences</a></strong><strong>&#58;&#160; </strong>Organizations&#160;from our Building Audiences for Sustainability (BAS) initiative share early results from their efforts to tap new audiences while continuing to engage current attendees. As detailed in accounts from our BAS Stories Project, the work of the five varies&#160;widely;&#160;some strategies show&#160;success, some falter&#160;and many fall somewhere in between.<br><br> 5<span style="color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;">)</span><strong> </strong><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/implementation-gets-the-job-done-benefiting-kids-by-strengthening-practices.aspx"><strong>Implementation Gets the Job Done, Benefitting Kids by Strengthening Practices</strong></a><strong>&#58; </strong>Wallace’s recently retired director of research, Ed Pauly, shares insights from his decades-long career into why implementation studies matter, highlighting examples from recent Wallace work.<br><br> 4<span style="color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;">)</span> <strong><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/looking-toward-a-nation-at-hope.aspx">Looking Toward a Nation at Hope&#58;</a></strong><strong> </strong>Rooted in findings that academic learning and social and emotional learning are intertwined, <a href="http&#58;//nationathope.org/report-from-the-nation/">a report released earlier this year by The Aspen Institute</a> shares recommendations and next steps for supporting a more holistic learning approach.<br><br> 3<span style="color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;">)</span> <strong><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/choosing-the-right-social-and-emotional-learning-programs-and-practices.aspx">Choosing the Right Social and Emotional Learning Programs and Practices</a></strong><strong>&#58; </strong>More from the SEL front&#58; RAND researchers discuss the importance of social and emotional learning and their new guide meant to help educators adopt evidence-based programs that fit needs of students and communities.<br><br> 2<span style="color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;">)</span>&#160;<strong><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/what-leading-for-equity-can-look-like-paul-fleming.aspx">What Leading for Equity Can Look Like</a></strong><strong>&#58; </strong>Paul Fleming, assistant commissioner for the teachers and Leaders Division at the Tennessee Department of Education, discusses the importance of equity and how a publication on the subject by a statewide team seeks to help schools and districts in Tennessee better support all students.<br><br> 1<span style="color&#58;#555555;font-size&#58;14px;">)</span><strong>​ </strong><a href="/News-and-Media/Blog/pages/helping-principals-support-social-and-emotional-learning.aspx"><strong>Helping Principals Support Social and Emotional Learning</strong></a><strong>&#58; </strong>It’s no surprise that our top post of 2019 falls at the crossroads of school leadership and SEL&#58; Here, guest author Eric Cardwell, president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals, tells of his conversations with educators around the country and the guide for SEL implementation that came out of them. </p> <br>Wallace editorial team792019-12-04T05:00:00ZRead the most popular stories we published this year and the research that inspired them.12/4/2019 5:57:28 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Year’s Top Blog Posts Signal Interest in SEL, School Leadership Read the most popular stories we published this year and 1444https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
This Holiday Season, Start Planning for … Summer?3862GP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​Temperatures are dropping and holiday decorations are appearing in storefront windows, so summer may seem a long way off.&#160; But <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/getting-to-work-on-summer-learning-2nd-ed.aspx">evidence</a> shows that <em>now</em> is actually the optimal time to start planning for summer programs. </p><p>And <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/learning-from-summer-effects-of-voluntary-summer-learning-programs-on-low-income-urban-youth.aspx">additional research</a> finds that students from low-income families can get meaningful benefits in reading and math, as well as bolster their social and emotional skills, with frequent attendance in high-quality voluntary programs. This makes summer an opportune time to help level the playing field for these children. &#160;</p><p>You can find all of the research—based on the work of five urban school districts that, with partners, participated in Wallace’s National Summer Learning Project—at the <a href="/knowledge-center/summer-learning/pages/default.aspx">Summer Learning</a> hub of our Knowledge Center. &#160;We’ve also got a slew of tools to help you get started in planning before the end of the year. Highlights include&#58; </p><ul> <li>​The <a href="/knowledge-center/summer-learning/toolkit/pages/default.aspx">Summer Learning Toolkit</a>&#58; a free online compendium of more than 50 evidence-based resources. They include customizable tools such as a program observation instrument; sample documents, like staff handbooks and enrollment forms, from the five districts; tip sheets from field experts; and guidance for how to effectively use each resource, with explanations of what the resource is, why it’s important and whom it can benefit.<br><br></li></ul><ul><li>RAND’s full set of recommendations on implementing high-quality summer learning programs, which can be found in <em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/getting-to-work-on-summer-learning-2nd-ed.aspx">Getting to Work on Summer Learning&#58; Recommended Practices for Success, 2nd Edition</a></em><em>.</em> The recommendations include starting planning no later than January; operating the program five to six weeks with three to four hours of academics each day; establishing a firm enrollment deadline and clear attendance policy; and hiring teachers who have grade-level and subject-matter experience.<br><br></li></ul><ul><li>More recently, the National Academies of Sciences released a report, <em> <a href="http&#58;//sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/BCYF/summertime/index.htm">Shaping Summertime Experiences,</a></em> &#160;that looks at summer in relation not only to academic learning but also to social and emotional development; physical and mental health; and safety, risk-taking and pro-social behavior. The report offers recommendations to improve the availability, accessibility, equity and effectiveness of summertime experiences for children and youth.<br><br></li></ul><p>Our recently published <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/summer-a-time-for-learning-five-lessons-from-school-districts-and-their-partners-about-running-successful-programs.aspx">summer learning perspective</a> offers five lessons, with tips, from the work of the districts and their partner organizations. Other resources and reports focus on <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/summer-learning-recruitment-guide.aspx">recruitment</a>, <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/investing-in-successful-summer-programs-essa-review.aspx">funding</a> and related aspects of implementing summer programming. By starting planning now, you can help ensure strong logistics, better prepared teachers and, ultimately, a more successful experience for participating students. </p><p>Happy planning!</p> <br>Wallace editorial team792019-11-19T05:00:00ZResearch shows that successful summer learning programs begin with early planning11/19/2019 5:09:47 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / This Holiday Season, Start Planning for … Summer Research shows that successful summer learning programs begin with early 1261https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Keeping Current on the State of Knowledge About Principals and APs4600GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​The amount of research on education leadership is staggering. Plug “school leadership” into Google Scholar, a search engine that indexes scholarly literature, for example, and you’ll find more than 90,000 books, studies and reports published on the topic since 2000. Fortunately, a group of prominent education researchers is sifting through the mountain of literature for the benefit of the rest of us.&#160;</p><p>This summer, we announced the commissioning of reports from three research teams that will examine the state of knowledge in critical areas of education leadership. Two of these research syntheses will offer a fresh analysis of topics explored in previous Wallace reports. The first will focus on the impact of leadership on student achievement, providing an update to the landmark <em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-leadership-influences-student-learning.aspx">How Leadership Influences Student Learning</a></em>, published in 2004 and still one of our most popular publications. The second will examine the characteristics of effective principal preparation programs, revisiting a topic that was first covered in <em> <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/preparing-school-leaders.aspx">Preparing School Leaders for a Changing World&#58; Lessons from Exemplary Leadership Development Programs</a></em>, published in 2007. The third report will explore the role of the assistant principal, a new area of inquiry that has emerged from our school leadership work over the past 15 years.</p><p>“Having reliable, high-quality reports that identify and analyze key findings across different research sources in a systematic way is very useful both for the field and for us at the foundation,” says Elizabeth Ty Wilde, senior research officer at Wallace. As important, she adds, the teams will also pinpoint areas where research is lacking and that could benefit from future study. </p><p>A number of developments justify taking a fresh look at how school leaders influence student learning, notes Jason Grissom, associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University and leader of the team investigating the topic. For one, the research base has exploded since our 2004 report by Kenneth Leithwood, Karen Seashore Louis and other scholars, who reviewed the research literature of the time and found that leadership is second only to instruction among school-related factors contributing to student achievement. The rigor of the research has improved as well. Thanks to the advent of state-level longitudinal data systems, scholars can now track the impact of school leadership on student outcomes over time, an analysis that wasn’t as feasible back in 2000. The job of a school principal has changed too, with a greater focus on instructional improvement, which has opened new avenues of research in recent years.&#160;</p><p>“This project is an opportunity to take stock and look across all the studies to determine the consistent findings regarding the connection between school leadership and student outcomes, and which attributes of leaders are most important to that connection,” says Grissom, who is collaborating with Constance Lindsay of the University of North Carolina and Anna Egalite of North Carolina State University on the synthesis.</p><p>The team examining principal preparation programs is taking a multi-faceted approach to its work. In addition to reviewing the research on pre-service training, the team will study the evolution of state policies on principal preparation and survey principals nationwide about how well their training prepared them for the job. The analysis “will give us a sense of how big of a mountain we have yet to climb” to prepare effective school leaders, says Linda Darling-Hammond, president and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute and co-principal investigator of research team. Darling-Hammond, who co-authored the 2007 report on principal training, is joined by Tina Trujillo of the University of California, Berkeley, and two colleagues at the Learning Policy Institute, an independent research organization dedicated to improving education policy and practice, co-PI (principal investigator) Marjorie Wechsler and Stephanie Levin.&#160;&#160;</p><p>Spending time as an assistant principal is a common route to the principalship, but how can the experience best prepare aspiring leaders? That’s one of the central questions guiding the analysis by Vanderbilt education professors Ellen Goldring and Mollie Rubin, along with Mariesa Herrmann of Mathematica Policy Research. The team will analyze state and national data as well as existing research to explore the characteristics of assistant principals, their preparation and the support they get on the job, among other topics. They’ll also investigate issues of equity, such as whether assistant principals have equal opportunities to become principals. The team doesn’t expect to find all the answers. “Because the literature on assistant principals is less robust, in terms of rigor and replication, this particular synthesis will help the field begin to think about future areas of research,” says Goldring.</p><p>While each team is working independently, all of the researchers are sharing ideas and advice as they dive deeper into the project. Darling-Hammond and her team, for example, called Grissom to pick his brain about his research on principal preparation programs. Grissom for his part has wandered down the hall to talk with his Vanderbilt colleague Rubin about ways to extract data from qualitative research. “So often, researchers operate in a vacuum,” says Rubin. “It’s been very helpful to talk out loud about the decisions we’re making.” </p><p> Wilde hopes the collaboration continues after the three reports come out next summer. “I jokingly told everyone at our first meeting, ‘At the end of this project, I hope that you can email anyone in this room and they’ll email you back—soon.’”<br></p> <br>Jennifer Gill832019-10-22T04:00:00ZScholars Dig Into Latest Research on Three Crucial Topics in School Leadership10/22/2019 1:59:13 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Keeping Current on the State of Knowledge About Principals and APs Scholars Dig Into Latest Research on Three Crucial 1042https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Insights on How Principals Can Affect Teachers, Students and Schools4322GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61 <p>​There’s no doubt that principals are important, but it can be difficult to measure just how their actions affect schools, teachers and students. A new report seeks to&#160;shed&#160;light on that. <br></p><p>The <a href="https&#58;//journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.3102/0034654319866133">report</a> synthesizes 51 studies and suggests&#160;evidence of the relationship between principals’ behavior and student achievement, teacher well-being, teacher instructional practices and school organizational health. </p><p>“We argue that our findings highlight the critical importance of expanding the knowledge base about strategies principals can take to improve learning in schools, and the value of investing in school leadership capacity,” write the study’s authors, the University of Oregon’s David D. Liebowitz and Lorna Porter.</p><p>Liebowitz and Porter conducted the meta-analysis by examining the empirical literature on five aspects of principals’ jobs—instructional management, internal relations, organizational management, administration and external relations—and the potential effects&#160;on student outcomes, (such as grades and behavior), teacher outcomes (well-being, retention rates and instructional practices) and school outcomes (school organizational health and principal retention). </p><p>While the field has emphasized principals’ roles as instructional leaders, Liebowitz and Porter write that they “find evidence that principal behaviors other than instructional management may be equally important mechanisms to improve student outcomes.”</p><p>The findings suggest that investing in principals may improve learning. A recent study from the RAND Corporation found that in districts with a <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/principal-pipeline-implementation.aspx">principal pipeline</a>—a districtwide effort to better prepare, support and evaluate school leaders—schools with new “pipeline” principals outperformed comparison schools in reading and in math.<br></p><p>Wallace continues to work to expand the evidence base on school leadership and recently <a href="/news-and-media/press-releases/pages/wallace-foundation-commissions-reports-to-synthesize-state-of-knowledge-key-aspects-school-leadership-.aspx">commissioned a research synthesis</a> on how leadership affects student learning. The report will build on a 2004 <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-leadership-influences-student-learning.aspx">landmark study</a> finding that school leadership is second only to teaching among school-related influences on student success.</p><p>Learn more about school leadership in Wallace’s <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/default.aspx">Knowledge Center</a>.<br></p>Wallace editorial team792019-10-16T04:00:00ZYour 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.1/3/2020 5:05:26 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Insights on How Principals Can Affect Teachers, Students and Schools New report seeks to clarify role of school leaders and 1429https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
National Principals Month Highlights the Tough Job of Leading a School3808GP0|#330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708;L0|#0330c9173-9d0f-423a-b58d-f88b8fb02708|School Leadership;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>“T he principal is the most pivotal role in the entire system,” Carmen Fariña, the former chancellor of New York City's school system, said in an episode of <em>The Principal Pipeline</em> podcast. “Having the best principals in New York is a mandate. There's nothing that's more important.” </p><p>While there are many ways to work toward advancing learning and running a school, one thing is clear&#58; being a principal is hard work. So every year in October the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) join forces to celebrate principals. This year, <a href="https&#58;//www.principalsmonth.org/">National Principals Month</a> is focused on nationwide advocacy to help ensure principals have what they need to meet the challenges that come with leading a school. </p><p>To add to the celebration, we’ve put together a list of a few of our landmark and new reports and tools to help districts better support principals in the work they do. </p><ul><li>The 2004 report, “<a href="/knowledge-center/pages/how-leadership-influences-student-learning.aspx">How Leadership Influences Student Learning</a>” establishes the now widespread idea that leadership is second only to teaching among in-school influences on student success. </li><li>While this groundbreaking <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/principal-pipelines-a-feasible,-affordable,-and-effective-way-for-districts-to-improve-schools.aspx">2019 report from RAND</a> shows how six large school districts that build principal pipelines—a systematic approach to hiring, preparing and supporting leaders—saw notable, statistically significant benefits for student achievement and principal retention. </li><li>Two series of <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/podcast-principal-pipeline.aspx"><em>The Principal Pipeline</em> podcast​</a> bring you some of the voices of principals, school district leaders, state leaders and others from the six districts that built pipelines. </li><li>And of course the <a href="/knowledge-center/school-leadership/pages/default.aspx">School Leadership</a> section of our Knowledge Center houses many more reports, videos, presentations and infographics. <br><br></li></ul><p> <img alt="principal-pipeline-main-image.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/National-Principals-Month-Highlights-the-Tough-Job-of-Leading-a-School/principal-pipeline-main-image.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" />&#160;</p><h2 class="wf-Element-H2" style="text-align&#58;center;">Happy reading and happy National Principals Month!</h2>Wallace editorial team792019-10-09T04:00:00ZYour 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.10/9/2019 7:22:33 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / National Principals Month Highlights the Tough Job of Leading a School This year districts and organizations across the US 687https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
Making Sure Every Student Succeeds…In the Summertime4150GP0|#ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13;L0|#0ff9563e3-b973-45a7-8ac3-c9f4122f9a13|Summer Learning;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>​​​Summer has long been thought of as a break from the rigors of school. Increasingly, though, summer is becoming a time for programs&#58; academic programs, sports and arts programs, programs that enable young people to explore their interests or build new skills. Policymakers, educators and others see summer programs as an opportunity to move the needle on academic and other outcomes and to help close the gaps in opportunity and achievement between students from low-income families and their more affluent peers. But with so many different types of programs out there, they may find themselves wondering which are worth investing in.</p><p>A new Wallace-commissioned report from the RAND Corporation has answers for anyone who needs help navigating the world of summer programs. <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/investing-in-successful-summer-programs-essa-review.aspx"><em>Investing in Successful Summer Programs​​​</em></a><em> </em>looks at the available research and offers detailed descriptions of 43 programs—some commercially available, some locally developed—that meet the top three of four levels&#160; of credible evidence of effectiveness described by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The rigor of the research behind these programs makes them eligible for certain significant sources of ESSA funding.&#160;</p><p>We talked by email with the lead authors of the report, Catherine Augustine and Jennifer Sloan McCombs, about how the evidence on summer learning stacks up and how providers and funders alike can put it to use.*</p><p><strong>What is the need that this report is intended to fill?</strong></p><p>Policymakers and practitioners all want to select evidence-based programs and approaches in order to maximize benefits for children and youth. Further, federal and state grant opportunities increasingly require practitioners to demonstrate that their proposed programs are evidence-based.&#160;Now, practitioners can use this report to demonstrate that their programs are evidence-based or to add evidence-based features to their programs, which should improve them. Funders can also use this report to get a better understanding of the types of summer programs that are evidence-based. This guide doesn’t just focus on academic summer programs—it contains information about programs promoting social and emotional well-being and career-related outcomes, as well.</p><p><strong>Why does summer programming matter?&#160;</strong></p><p>First, summer is an opportune time to provide programming that supports positive developmental outcomes or meets particular needs of certain children and youth, such as mental health needs. Second, summer programming may be particularly important to mitigate the opportunity and achievement gaps that exist between children from low-income families and their higher-income peers. We know from other research that lower-income children and youth are less likely to engage in sports, join clubs, or take private lessons. They are also more likely to stay indoors, and they have reduced access to healthy meals during the summer. We want all children to have access to enrichment during the summer for its own sake but also because participating in sports, clubs, lessons and the like leads to outcomes we care about such as identifying skills and interests that can be pursued throughout one’s life. Summer programming also matters because children and youth from lower-income families fall behind their wealthier peers academically over the summer. Finally, we want children and youth to have safe places to be during the summer, with healthy meals.&#160;</p><p><strong>​What are the headlines from your review of the evidence on the effectiveness of summer programs?&#160;What have you learned about what benefits summer programs can generate for children?</strong></p><p>This review affirms that many types of summer programs can benefit children and youth. We found evidence of effectiveness for academic learning, learning at home, social and emotional well-being, and employment and career summer programs.&#160;Also, we found programs can be developed that benefit youth at all grade levels.</p><p><strong>How can program providers use the report to guide their decision-making?</strong></p><p>First, they can see if any of the 43 programs we highlighted as evidence-based contain the same features as their programs. If so, they can use the guide to argue that their program is evidence-based if they are applying for state or federal funding. Second, if their programs do not look like any of the programs in this guide, they can consider augmenting their programs to more closely resemble the ones we have identified as evidence-based. Third, if they do not want to change their program, but would like to have it rigorously evaluated, they can use this report to design an evaluation that could meet the highest three evidence tiers of ESSA, providing them with greater grant writing opportunities in the future. In addition, providers can use it to consider the range of programs that are available to meet particular needs of children and youth.&#160;</p><p><strong>What advice do you have for a provider who may be seeking federal funding for a program that isn’t in the report and which doesn’t already have established evidence of effectiveness?</strong></p><p>The provider should first check to determine if their program contains the same design features as any of the evidence-based programs we found to be effective. If that is not the case, providers should check to see if the funding stream they’re pursuing allows evidence at the Tier IV level. The programs described in this report meet the highest three evidence tiers defined in ESSA, but there is a fourth tier.&#160;Tier IV allows program providers to argue that their program is evidence-based if there is rigorous research underscoring at least part of the program’s logic model or theory of action. Tier IV also stipulates that the program (or one just like it) is currently being evaluated. If the provider can demonstrate that at least part of the program’s logic model is supported by rigorous research and that the program is currently being evaluated, the provider could apply for federal funding streams that allow Tier IV evidence.&#160;</p><p><strong>What lessons does your review of the evidence have for state and federal policymakers?&#160;What can they do to promote effective summer programs?</strong></p><p>State policymakers can share this review with practitioners in their state to raise awareness of the types of summer programs that have been found to be evidence based. They could encourage practitioners to design or amend programs to be similar to those described in the review. They can use this review to determine if programs proposed for state funding are indeed evidence-based. Federal policymakers can do the same when reviewing proposals. Finally, if they are allocating research funding, they can use the information to target research funding towards under-studied programs or populations.&#160;Most of the rigorously studied programs are academic learning programs offered in schools, focused on reading, and targeting elementary students. There were far fewer rigorous studies conducted for other types of programs or outcomes.</p><p><em>​*This interview has been edited and condensed.</em></p>​<br>Wallace editorial team792019-07-01T04:00:00ZRAND researchers on using evidence to build, and secure funding for, summer learning programs7/1/2019 7:16:19 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / Making Sure Every Student Succeeds…In the Summertime RAND researchers on using evidence to build, and secure funding for 626https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx
What Theater Can Do Best3559GP0|#8056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be;L0|#08056f3bc-89c1-4297-814a-3e71542163be|Building Audiences for the Arts;GTSet|#a1e8653d-64cb-48e0-8015-b5826f8c5b61<p>Two years ago, we embarked on our Building Audiences for Sustainability (BAS) Stories Series, which has chronicled early accounts from the BAS initiative. <a href="/knowledge-center/pages/denver-center-for-the-performing-arts-is-cracking-the-millennial-code.aspx">One of the organizations featured</a> was Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA), focusing on Off-Center—an experimental branch of DCPA’s Theatre Company. Off-Center is helmed and curated by Charlie Miller, who also serves as the&#160;Associate Artistic Director of&#160;Denver Center&#160;Theatre Company. </p><p> To see how the work has been progressing, Corinna Schulenburg, Director of Communications at Theatre Communications Group, sat down with Miller to discuss Off-Center’s work to date, what they’ve learned and recommendations for other organizations seeking to expand their work in audience building. <br> <br> This following is an excerpted and edited version of the exchange.</p><p> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; Can you provide a brief overview of the Denver Center and your work with the Building Audiences for Sustainability initiative?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is a nonprofit theater based in Denver, and it's a unique organization because it houses both the Broadway presenting house and the regional theater that we call the Theatre Company. Inside the Theatre Company, there's a line of programming that I lead called Off-Center, which was created in 2010 to be a theatrical testing center, a place where we could experiment with new ideas and new forms and new ways of engaging a new and younger audience. <br> <br> This really came out of the challenge we were facing a decade ago—subscriptions were declining and audiences were aging. There was more competition for entertainment dollars, so we had to find a new way to engage an audience who wasn’t necessarily predisposed to theater the way that their parents and grandparents were. We were determined to create a new kind of programming geared toward that audience and that’s where Off-Center came from. </p><p>Around the same time, I became really fascinated with immersive theater and the way that it put the audience at the center of the experience. I also felt like it was a great thing for Denver because people who come to Colorado enjoy experiences. They like being active, and immersive theater allows an audience to be active inside of a story. So we set out to build the DCPA’s capacity to produce large scale immersive work through Off-Center.</p><p class="wf-Element-ImageCaption"><br><img alt="miller-schulenburg.jpg" src="/News-and-Media/Blog/PublishingImages/Pages/What-Theater-Can-Do-Best/miller-schulenburg.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px;" /> &#160;&#160;Corinna Schulenburg, director of communications, Theatre Communications Group and Charlie Miller, associate artistic director, Denver Center Theatre Company. </p><p><strong>Schulenburg&#58; Can you say a little bit more about the aesthetic and the audience experience of immersive theater?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; For me what immersive means—and I also often use the word “experiential” interchangeably—is that it puts the audience at the center. They have some kind of role in the experience or in the story. It doesn't mean that the audience is playing a part like the actor, but instead that there is no fourth wall. It also needs to engage your senses and often involves not being seated the whole time, sometimes moving through multiple spaces, sometimes moving through the real world, but within a story that serves as a lens through which you’re viewing the world.<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; I know that an initial impulse was around engaging millennial audiences, particularly because you are a millennial yourself. Do you feel that millennial audience members&#160;have a particular relationship to this kind of work?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; On average we’ve seen 35 percent of the audience is made up of millennials for these experiential productions, which is a departure from the Theatre Company, which is closer to 16 percent. We've also noticed that there is a halo effect, where you create programming that you think will speak to one generation and it becomes compelling to other generations. The common denominator is not your age, it’s how adventurous you are and what you’re looking for in your cultural experience. <br> <br> What’s exciting to us is that the work we’re doing is engaging a significantly newer and younger audience but it’s also engaging a diverse audience and people of all ages who are interested in engaging with their art in a different way. <br> <br> Also through the work we’ve been doing, I've continued to feel a tension in artistic programming between listening to what the audience wants and just doing interesting work that people will be excited about that they didn't know they want. There’s the famous Henry Ford quote that I love, something like, “If I listened to what people wanted I would have just given them a faster horse.” <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; I remember in some of your past work you’ve uncovered that there’s a gap in what they think they want and what you actually found they wanted through market research.</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; &#160;As we were starting our Wallace-funded work we did a lot of market research, both qualitative and quantitative, to look at millennials in Denver and to understand if they would be interested in immersive theater. And when we asked them what type of experience, what attributes they wanted in an experience, they wanted “entertaining,” “lighthearted and fun,” “casual and relaxed.” They did not want “exclusive,” “serious” or “high end.” </p><p> <em>Sweet &amp; Lucky</em>, which was the first big project we produced, was serious and emotional and contemplative and people loved it, but it was the opposite of what they said they wanted. And it turns out that some of the subsequent work we've done that has been categorized as “entertaining, lighthearted and fun” has not been as popular among audiences. So even though they said they thought they knew what they wanted, it turns out they didn't. <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; Since Wallace released the Building Audiences for Sustainability Story on your work, what has changed since then? What have you been up to?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; The production that is running right now is called <em> <a href="https&#58;//www.denvercenter.org/tickets-events/between-us/">Between Us</a></em>, and it is a trio of one-on-one experiences between one actor and one audience member. This was inspired, in part, by an observation from <em>Sweet &amp; Lucky</em>&#58; during that production, every audience member received a brief one-on-one with an actor, and we saw how impactful that was for audience members. </p><p>Through all our projects this spring I've been fascinated with how much agency we can give the audience. How do we create a situation where the audience can show up as themselves, not have to play a part, but can have a meaningful and authentic impact on the direction and possibly even the outcome of the story? And how do we do that in a way that still guarantees that there's satisfying narrative arc? We're really experimenting with that in all of these pieces. We've had to rethink how we do things and learn along the way. <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; Do you have any advice for smaller organizations looking to begin the work of audience building?</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; &#160;I think it's really important to get feedback from your audience. You don’t have to have a big budget to collect information and to use that to inform some of your decisions. It’s a skill set and a muscle that you can develop, and there are free tools out there to help. I believe that audience members have more buy-in with an organization if they feel like they’re able to share their opinion, so I’m a big proponent of continuous learning—as Wallace calls it—and using data to support strategy. <br> <br> Another thing we've learned is that experimental and nonlinear work has been least successful, as determined by audience response. We’ve heard that loud and clear on three different projects now. I always have to remind myself that at the core you have to provide a good story and that’s what brings people in. Theater is an art of storytelling.</p><p>Finally, I’m a huge proponent of prototyping and taking small, incremental steps to improve based on what you learn. The analogy I like to give is climbing up two feet and trying out your parachute and then climbing up another two feet, rather than just jumping off a cliff and hoping that the parachute opens. The more you can iterate, prototype and experiment, that can be really valuable. It’s a way to take calculated risks.</p><p> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; We’ve been talking a lot about the role human contact plays in the work you do at Off-Center, so I wanted to end by mentioning the New York Times article, &quot;</strong><strong><a href="https&#58;//www.nytimes.com/2019/03/23/sunday-review/human-contact-luxury-screens.html">Human Contact Is Now A Luxury Good</a></strong><strong>&quot; – have you seen it?</strong></p><p>Miller&#58; Oh yes, I did see this piece. <br> <br> <strong>Schulenburg&#58; The research suggests that it used to be that people who had resources and money had access to screens. Now, it's reversed—folks who are economically distressed have screens around them all the time and human contact has become a luxury good for the wealthy. What’s so interesting to me about the work that you are doing, it feels like it's connected to that, that you are hitting on the significance of direct human contact. It seems to me like you're tapping into a real wellspring of hunger.</strong> <br> <br> Miller&#58; I think you're right there. This relates to why I think millennials are drawn to immersive work. Our lives are mediated through screens, and theater like this forces you to put your screen down and to just be real, present and embodied. <br> <br> Spending an hour with a stranger and just getting to know them is a unique experience; you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the world from a different point of view. My hope is that this can wake us up from the monotony of our everyday routine and give us a new perspective on our own lives and on the world. That’s what we’re really trying to do at the end of the day. That’s what theater can do best. </p>Wallace editorial team792019-06-25T04:00:00ZChecking in with Denver Center’s Theater Company on what they’ve learned about their audiences from championing immersive theater6/27/2019 3:57:01 PMThe Wallace Foundation / News and Media / Wallace Blog / What Theater Can Do Best Checking in with Denver Center’s Theater Company on what they’ve learned about their audiences 1241https://www.wallacefoundation.org/News-and-Media/Blog/Pages/Forms/AllItems.aspxhtmlFalseaspx

​​​​​​​