In July 2011, NewSchools launched a four-year, $12 million fund that focused on adding new, high-quality charter school seats in Boston. The Boston Fund took important steps toward ensuring that all children in Boston have the opportunity to attend a quality school. By helping establish high-performing school ventures and by developing a supportive ecosystem, the Boston Fund was able to double the size of the highest-performing charter sector in the country. This report looks back on the successes, challenges, and lessons learned over the four years of the fund.
This report highlights key takeaways from the 2010 NewSchools Summit and Community of Practice Event, which took place in Washington, DC on May 11- 12, 2010. Before a crowd of more than 600 participants, federal policy leaders came together with education entrepreneurs to describe what is possible in public education, and confront the political and operational challenges ahead.
The Summit offered a singular opportunity to reflect and trade views on a remarkable intersection of entrepreneurial work and policy change. Education entrepreneurs and their supporters heard a call from the Administration to prove its big “bet” on the capacity of social entrepreneurs to drive innovation in underserved American communities. “We live in a different time, a time of great opportunity, but a time in which we have to step up,” NewSchools CEO Ted Mitchell reminded the audience.
Also included in this report is coverage of our Community of Practice event, which takes place each year on the day before the main Summit event and brings together portfolio ventures and select practitioners to investigate common challenges and share effective practices. This year’s Community of Practice event focused on the use of technology as a tool for “supercharging” student achievement.
In an increasingly knowledge-based economy, the number of jobs available to adults without at least some post-secondary education is declining rapidly, and the earnings gap between jobs requiring a degree and those that do not is widening. Increasing the number of college graduates has a positive impact on the lives of youth today, and can help break the cycle of poverty for future generations.
This toolkit is designed to expand the dialogue about what it takes to better prepare students for success in college. It shares practices and tools used by organizations that have designed and implemented comprehensive college success programs,including The Bronx Lab School, Eastside College Prep, Foundation for a College Education (FCE), and YES Prep Public Schools. The practices profiled in this toolkit include: college knowledge, college guidance, financial support, transition support, and family engagement.
This publication is the latest installment in NewSchools’ ongoing efforts to highlight the work of the entrepreneurial ventures we support and others who are pioneering new ways to dramatically improve public education. By enabling entrepreneurs to share their ideas, knowledge, and practices with one another and with the wider field, we hope to accelerate the improvement of public education for underserved students.
The first step toward improving public education is to deepen our understanding of the diverse needs and preferences of its most important stakeholders: the parents and students it is intended to serve, as well as the educators at the heart of the institution.
In this paper – written for the American Enterprise Institute conference “More Than Just Schools: Rethinking the Demand for Educational Entrepreneurship” – we call for a new mindset in public education that we call “responsive supply.” This mindset not only acknowledges the diversity of needs and preferences among education’s central stakeholders, it also seeks to harness that knowledge to develop a variety of educational options anchored in these differences. This approach has the potential to dramatically improve public education by enhancing satisfaction, increasing student achievement levels, and improving the productivity of educators, programs, schools and school systems. Existing providers of education could use this kind of approach to adjust their work, and this information can also encourage a new crop of education entrepreneurs to address more richly defined market niches.
The road toward such responsive supply in public education begins with a serious commitment to placing students, parents and educators at the center of our efforts, and making a significant investment in what the business community calls “market segmentation.” This technique consists of gathering detailed data and information about the characteristics, needs and preferences of those on the receiving end of schooling, which can then inform decisions about whether to address the resulting groups in a homogenous way, to differentiate approaches according to the needs of different groups, or even to tailor methods for reaching individuals. Without detailed information, we tend too often to make sweeping assumptions about what people want or need, defer to ideology or intuition, and end up with suppliers who unknowingly waste valuable time, money, and energy – not to mention frustrated consumers who don’t get the products, services, or outcomes they’re hoping for.
This paper explains the concept of market segmentation as a foundation for understanding the demand side of education, before turning toward an exploration of how these principles could advance responsive supply in three areas: in breaking up the current one-size-fits-all mentality that pervades the human capital market, in furthering the diversity of public school options, and in pioneering ways to deconstruct and recombine the various elements of schooling in ways that are tailored to individual students. Ultimately, we make the case for a more open acceptance of the differences among students, parents and educators – and for redesigning our systems to explicitly account for and address those differences.
Capitalizing on the energy behind the concept of “innovation in education” requires establishing some common definitions and principles for what exactly innovation is. This shared understanding can underpin and sustain the work in practice.
This paper presents a definition of innovation that is informed by lessons learned from other industries and that accounts for innovation’s many faces. This paper also analyzes some of the factors that keep innovation from taking hold in education, and uses that analysis as an entry point for describing the current opportunity.
The paper concludes with a series of recommendations designed to encourage the public, private and philanthropic sectors to work productively across the sectors and other traditional boundaries toward a better ecosystem for education innovation.
This report summarizes key takeaways from the NewSchools Summit 2009, which took place in Pasadena, CA. The Summit brought together more than 450 participants for an agenda focused on innovation in education. Together, presenters and audience members looked at how results-based approaches and broader scaling of solutions will be the only way to drive lasting change across public education.
To explore this theme, NewSchools convened experts from inside and outside of the education sector to discuss and debate the meaning and power of innovation. As NewSchools CEO Ted Mitchell reminded participants, “It’s important for us to use examples from other sectors of society to help us think in new ways. A part of innovation is the ability to think in new ways about old problems.” The day also focused on putting lessons from other sectors into action in classrooms and across school systems. Speakers and participants considered the role of entrepreneurs in the emerging federal policy agenda, and highlighted some of the the most promising innovative practices from the NewSchools portfolio. This publication provides an account of conversations throughout the day, and reflects on the work that entrepreneurs, district leaders, philanthropists and policymakers are doing to transform public education across America.
In the 10 years since its founding, NewSchools has moved from a couple of desks in Silicon Valley to a national force, uniquely positioned to identify and support innovative efforts in public education.
In those years, education entrepreneurs have moved from isolated success to become a movement and, increasingly, a household concept.
The report highlights the accomplishments of these entrepreneurs thus far. It also describes the key supports that NewSchools provides to help these entrepreneurs build healthy organizations that take their ideas to scale, and the powerful impact of bringing together networks of practitioners to collaborate and problem solve together.
The work of NewSchools, however, is far from finished. The goal that these entrepreneurs have set before themselves – not simply to improve schools, but to erase the gap separating the education of low income kids from that of their more wealthy peers – has not been fully achieved. Despite undeniable progress and the remarkable benefits that it has brought, there is much more to do. We need more good schools in our toughest neighborhoods. We need to do more to fix schools that are broken, to put great teachers in front of the kids who need them most, to find smarter ways to measure kids’ learning, to equip teachers and principals with the skills they need. The final section of the report articulates some of the areas that NewSchools sees great potential for entrepreneurial solutions.
Since 2005, NewSchools Venture Fund and the Aspen Institute have convened leaders in educational entrepreneurship, philanthropy, policymaking and research for the Annual Gathering of Education Entrepreneurs in Aspen, Colorado.
This year, participants focused on two key areas for opportunity and need for reform in public education: federal policy and R&D.
When data serves as the foundation and culture of school systems, curriculum and instruction can be more closely tailored to each students’ particular academic needs.
The key findings from this national, qualitative study are delineated in the report entitled, Acting on Data: How Urban High Schools Use Data to Improve Instruction. In this study, Dr. Amanda Datnow and her colleagues take a close look at how teachers are using student data to inform a more responsive and targeted instructional program. The study also examines how school systems, both charter and district, are supporting educators in their use of data. This research builds on our previous study of data-driven instruction at the elementary level resulting in the 2006 report, “Achieving with Data: How High-Performing School Systems Use Data to Improve Instruction for Elementary Students.” Both studies were conducted in partnership with the Center on Educational Governance at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education.
We believe the report will be useful to educators since it both illustrates effective practices and illuminates some of the challenges inherent in fostering a culture of data use in our schools. From the start of this research, we set out to make this report and accompanying materials useful to practitioners. To this end, we’ve collected the templates and tools from our research and compiled them into a practitioner workbook for easy copy, modification and re-use. Permissions have been granted from all participating schools and school systems to repurpose and/or modify these documents.
I. Setting Goals 11
Document 1: Garden Grove Unified School District (GGUSD) District-wide Goals
Document 2: GGUSD Student Placement Goals
Document 3: GGUSD Bolsa Grande High School Class Analysis and Goal-Setting Worksheet
Document 4: GGUSDBolsaGrandeHighSchoolDataTeam Description
Document 5: Glendale Union High School District (GUHSD) Continuous Improvement Report
Document 6: YES Prep Public Schools’ Measure of Success
Document 7: YES Prep Public Schools’ Individual Management Plan
II. Instructional Sequencing and Planning
Document 8: Aldine Independent School District (AISD) Ninth Grade School Algebra Instructional Calendar
Document 9: AISD Ninth Grade School Math Department Meeting Calendar
Document 10: AISD Ninth Grade School English Calendar
Document 11: GGUSD Grades 7-12 Instructional Sequencing Options
Document 12: YES Prep Public Schools’ English I Standards
III. Instructional Evaluations
Document 13: Uncommon Schools’ North Star Academy Mid-Year Evaluation Rubric
Document 14: Uncommon Schools’ North Star Academy Teacher Reply Form for Mid-Year Evaluation
Document 15: YES Prep Public Schools’ Instructional Snapshot Tool
Document 16: YES Prep Public Schools’ Teacher Evaluation Summary Tool
IV. Data Reflection Tools
Document 17: AISD Ninth Grade School Student Analysis Tool
Document 18: AISD Ninth Grade Departmental Reflection Tool
Document 19: GGUSD Bolsa Grande High School Math Department Benchmark Reflection Tool
Document 20: Uncommon Schools’ North Star Academy Data Discussion Consultancy Protocol
V. Data Action Tools
Document 21: Achievement First Battle Plan
Document 22: AISD Ninth Grade School Language Arts Action Plan
Document 23: GUHSD Washington High School Program Improvement Plan
Document 24: YES Prep Public Schools Data-Based Action Plan
The NewSchools Venture Fund Summit 2008 marked an exciting milestone, as the year of NewSchools’ 10th anniversary and an inflection point for the entrepreneurial education movement.
When Kim Smith launched NewSchools, she had a vision: to empower entrepreneurs to transform the educational opportunities for underserved children across the nation. Over the last decade, dozens of these entrepreneurs have created successful organizations that demonstrate that this vision can become a reality.
As in past years, this year’s Summit presented an opportunity to step back and recognize the extraordinary work that these entrepreneurs have done for hundreds of thousands of children. It was also a chance to reflect on the growing visibility of entrepreneurs in major urban districts and to contemplate the next steps involved in translating that impact into broader systems transformation. In the words of NewSchools CEO Ted Mitchell, “We aim to bring together the nation’s education entrepreneurs with a common goal: to make America’s schools worthy of our democratic aspirations as a nation; to make those schools worthy of our children’s dreams and our dreams for them; and, above all, to make our schools worthy of the moral responsibility we bear for the fortunes and life chances of those children too often underserved and left behind by the current system of education.”