Building a Birth-to-College Model: Professional Learning Communities

Education and Literacy

Building a Birth-to-College Model: Professional Learning Communities

The newest in a planned series of case studies on building a birth-to-college model of education released by the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute (UEI) and the Ounce of Prevention Fund outlines how to create professional learning communities (PLCs) of teachers, administrators and family support staff spanning the early childhood to K-12 spectrum.

The intent of the PLCs is to create environments where practitioners take the lead in collaboratively studying and piloting effective, developmentally informed practices that prepare children for college, beginning at birth.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Midwestern)-Illinois-Cook County-Chicago

Cross-State Analyses of Results of 2012-13 Teaching Empowering Leading and Learning (TELL) Survey Research Report

Education and Literacy

Cross-State Analyses of Results of 2012-13 Teaching Empowering Leading and Learning (TELL) Survey Research Report

New Teacher Center worked collaboratively with nine state coalitions - including governors, state education agencies, teacher associations, stakeholder groups and practitioners - to implement the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) survey statewide in nine states from the spring of 2012 to the spring of 2103. The TELL survey is a full-population survey of school-based licensed educators designed to report the perceptions about the presence of teaching and learning conditions that research has shown increase student learning and teacher retention.

The conditions assessed in the TELL survey include:

  • Time
  • Facilities and Resources
  • Professional Development
  • School Leadership
  • Teacher Leadership
  • Instructional Practices and Support
  • Managing Student Conduct
  • Community Support and Involvement
  • New Teacher Support (for teachers in their first three years in the profession)

This report compares the results of the TELL survey at the state level across the country, providing an additional contextual lens for interpreting the results from each participating state to better understand their own findings.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States;North America-United States (Western)-Colorado;North America-United States (Southern)-Tennessee;North America-United States (Midwestern)-Ohio;North America-United States (Southern)-North Carolina;North America-United States (Southern)-Maryland;North America-United States (Southern)-Kentucky;North America-United States (Northeastern)-Vermont;North America-United States (Northeastern)-Massachusetts;North America-United States (Northeastern)-Delaware

Working Together to Build a Birth-to-College Approach to Public Education

Education and Literacy

Working Together to Build a Birth-to-College Approach to Public Education

In 2009, the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute (UEI) and the Ounce of Prevention Fund (the Ounce) embarked on an effort to form a partnership whose vision is to "...build a model of public education for children and their families that begins at birth and creates success in school, and life."

UEI designed and operates four public charter school campuses offering families a pathway to college for their children that begins with prekindergarten (preK) and continues through high school. The Ounce created and operates the Educare School, which prepares at risk children from birth to age five for success in school. The partnership will initially demonstrate what it means when children begin their education early with Educare, enter UEI's charter campuses for elementary, middle and high school, advance to college, and persist to graduation. Ultimately, the partnership plans to harness and share the academic expertise and real-world experience of members of both organizations. The goal is to collaboratively and continuously align and create instructional practices, and academic and social supports, to demonstrate a new model of public education that seamlessly and successfully prepares children for college, beginning at birth.

In the United States, early childhood education (ECE) is not publicly mandated. All children in the U.S. receive public schooling that generally begins with kindergarten. As a result, many children do not have access to sufficient learning opportunities early in life, and may start kindergarten at a disadvantage. Given that K-12 attempts at closing the achievement gap are costly and generally ineffective, calls are being made to prevent the achievement gap from ever occurring. This requires intervention at a very young age, since differences in achievement based on income level can be seen as young as nine months and become larger by kindergarten. Even children who have been exposed to high quality ECE can experience a "fade" of those benefits upon entering K-12, depending on the quality of elementary school. For many children, the achievement gap begins to widen once again.

In the city of Chicago, high school graduation rates hover around 50 percent. Of those students who graduate, only 35 percent go on to attend four-year colleges and universities. The numbers grow even smaller for children who are African American, Latino, or low-income. The achievement gap that opens in early childhood tends to widen throughout K-12, and many children who start with a disadvantage at kindergarten never graduate from high school. If they do, they are unlikely to attend and graduate from college. Higher education levels are related to higher incomes, lower levels of unemployment, and other positive outcomes. In order to be competitive in a world where a college degree is increasingly important, the United States must ensure that children graduate high school and are prepared to graduate from college.

Preventing an achievement gap and ensuring that the fade of benefits from high-quality ECE does not occur in elementary school, while at the same time raising the bar to "college for all," requires collaboration between the worlds of ECE and K-12. In the United States, however, there exists a structural divide between the two fields. Despite the fact that they share similar goals for educating children, policies, standards, and funding streams contribute to a "disconnect."

The partnership's goals are to effect change in public education by creating a demonstration model of birth-to-grade 12 education that prepares students for success in college and life. In order to accomplish this, the two organizations will work together to share expertise, and align and co-create practices, to ensure the best possible chance for success for students. The partnership first needed to be established, strengthened, and trusted by key players from each organization -- this was not a simple task. UEI and the Ounce began this effort by developing a roadmap that includes a shared vision and mission, core values, and goals and activities of the partnership. We focus here on the formation of the shared vision and mission, a document that represents the goals and aspirations of the partnership between the two organizations. In the service of creating this document, a working group comprised of educators, administrators, researchers, and teacher leaders from each organization was formed. The working group used an iterative process, where they revised, questioned, and adjusted the roadmap during a series of ten three-hour meetings that took place over the course of nine months and were facilitated by a specialist. Working group members' testimonies about their experiences participating in the group are referenced in this study. We will also review iterations of the shared vision and mission as they changed over time.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Midwestern)-Illinois-Cook County-Chicago

Learning from Turnaround Middle Schools: Strategies for Success

Education and Literacy

Learning from Turnaround Middle Schools: Strategies for Success

In New York City and around the nation, there is intense interest in the question of what it takes to turn around a low-performing school. This study focused on two sets of initially low-performing NYC middle schools. The first group (the "turnaround schools") exhibited significant growth in academic performance between 2006 and 2010, while the other group saw minimal growth or remained stagnant during the same period. To gain an understanding of how the turnaround schools improved, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with principals and focus groups with teachers in both sets of schools.

This report presents a rich picture of the conditions and strategies that enabled the turnaround schools to boost student achievement. Specifically, it identifies three interrelated "essential conditions" that were largely principal driven: aligning needs with goals, creating a positive work environment, and addressing student discipline and safety. These essential conditions, in turn, set the stage for implementing specific strategies to improve teaching and learning: developing teachers internally, creating small learning communities, targeting student sub-populations, and using data to inform instruction. The report also describes several ongoing challenges faced by all the schools. Finally, it draws on the study's findings to make recommendations for improving the effectiveness of middle schools here in New York City and around the country. The study is part of an ongoing focus on the middle grades for the Research Alliance.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Northeastern)-New York-New York County-New York City

Keeping Irreplaceables in D.C. Public Schools

Education and Literacy

Keeping Irreplaceables in D.C. Public Schools

This paper explains how District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has moved toward smarter teacher retention, mainly by raising expectations and removing consistently low-performing teachers. The report also shows that DPCS is missing some opportunities to make even more progress.

Other key findings include: 1) performance-based compensation is helping DCPS keep more top teachers; 2) many DCPS principals do not appear to be prioritizing top teacher retention; 3) many DCPS principals are struggling to create cultures and working conditions that motivate top teachers to stay; 4) irreplaceables appear less likely to teach in schools that need them most.

The report recommends that DCPS continue its current policy reforms -- especially its higher expectations for teachers -- while monitoring the distribution of top teachers across the district and doing more to help school leaders retain their best teachers.

Geographic Focus: North America-United States (Southern)-District of Columbia-Washington

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