More than 950 attendees representing 578 organizations convened in San Francisco on May 5 and 6 for NewSchools Summit 2015, the annual gathering for education innovation thought leaders who bring some of the most important voices and perspectives in K-12 education reform today. An invitation-only convening of entrepreneurs, educators, community leaders, funders, and policy makers, Summit provided a platform for this community to engage, share best practices and tackle some of the toughest challenges facing educators, with the potential to profoundly impact, inspire and transform public schools so that they work better for every student, in every neighborhood.
This year, Summit sparked conversations around topics like diversifying education leadership, design-thinking in the classroom, an expanded definition of student success, and the creation of socioeconomically diverse schools. Attendees heard from educators, students, parents, designers and researchers, and were challenged to rethink time, talent, and technology, in a way that enables new models to put more power in students’ hands and tailor learning to meet their individual needs.
Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work, encouraged attendees to be courageous in reexamining our models for school in order to be sure we are engaging kids in a way that preserves their ability to try, fail, and try again, without promoting shame. Note: Unfortunately, we are unable to share a recording of this session. This session was presented by Target.
We shared “day in the life” videos featuring students in three next generation schools, and got a chance to hear from each of the three students directly. Stacey Childress explored with them what’s special, what’s helpful, and what’s still evolving about these innovative school models, from their perspective. This session was presented by Startup Education.
Summit ended on a thought-provoking high note, with a powerful call to action by Ben Jealous, partner at Kapor Capital and former President & CEO of the NAACP, who, echoing Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, encouraged attendees to “build uncomfortable coalitions and to dream bigger dreams.” This session was presented by The Walton Family Foundation.
Understanding the practices that lead to better outcomes is critical to the success of innovative schools. This discussion explored current knowledge on the effectiveness of various efforts and illustrate how to design research that determines “what works” in ways that are clear and actionable for teachers and school leaders. This session was presented by ETS.
Classrooms and schools across the country face design challenges every day. A group of teachers and design firms teamed up before Summit to apply design thinking to generate solutions to persistent classroom challenges. These teams showcased the ways in which they implemented design thinking principles in order to solve everyday challenges. This session was presented by Pearson.
All young people should be academically prepared to enroll and succeed in college, but some students will pursue a different path than four-year college after high school. Few rigorous options exist to connect students to alternative pathways. How can we ensure that these young people have the preparation and viable choices among options that lead to self-sufficiency while maintaining high expectations for all?
A growing number of schools are incorporating diverse student bodies into their designs in order to create academically rigorous learning environments that also help young people learn what it means to be effective citizens of a diverse and increasingly global community. In this session, we explored the purpose, benefits, and challenges of these models through the insights of parents whose children attend these schools, school leaders, and policy experts.
Bold charter school entrepreneurs have proven it’s possible to help all students score well on state tests and college entrance exams. But there’s a growing recognition that this is insufficient for long term student success. Many innovators are beginning to define student success more broadly to include character, social-emotional learning, habits of success and other attributes. What is the current state of the art among school teams and experts? How are these attributes being implemented and measured?
Many innovative schools incorporate competency-based progression, in which learning goals are clearly defined and students navigate toward those goals and receive credit as soon as they demonstrate mastery. This session will explore implementation challenges and how changes in policy and practice can support competency-based progression at scale.
Innovative school designs are changing the way teachers work with students and one another. How can education organizations best respond to these new demands and better support teachers in shifting to highly personalized environments? This session featured early insights about what skills and competencies have proven essential and ideas on how to conceptualize the process of developing them in teachers. This session was presented by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Some of the highest performing charter networks in the country are rethinking their school designs to meet a broader definition of student success. In this session, the Achievement First Greenfield design team led participants through an interactive history of their journey to develop the transformative Greenfield model, outlining the conditions needed to create transformational change in our schools.