The Barr Foundation launched the Engage New England Initiative in 2017 to support the development of innovative schools to serve students who are off track to graduate from high school.
This research brief identifies promising strategies for embracing student voice in school design based on the experience of Engage New England (ENE) grantees. Successfully engaging students in decision-making and school design is not as simple as inviting them to attend staff meetings. As ENE grantees learned, meaningfully engaging students requires planning, scaffolding, and sustained attention to both representation and accessibility for the most historically underserved youth. The lessons ENE grantees learned from engaging in a structured, student-centered design process can help other schools to include student voice in school design and they may also be applied more broadly to ongoing continuous efforts. The lessons also may be useful for supporting the engagement of all participants in school design work, adults, and students alike. These lessons learned are presented and described in greater depth throughout the brief.
Designing Schools with and for Students: Lessons Learned from the Engage New England Initiative is the first of a series of research briefs resulting from SRI Education’s evaluation of the Engage New England Initiative. Subsequent releases will address the implementation of core components of the initiative, the student experience in ENE schools, planning year supports, and student outcomes such as high school graduation and successful transition to postsecondary education or training.
Study of the Engage New England Initiative Cross-Site Learning Brief 3: Improving Instructional Systems
This brief examines the efforts of schools participating in the Barr Foundation’s Engage New England Initiative to improve the instructional systems for students who are off track to graduate high school.
Assessing the Alignment between West Virginia’s High School Career and Technical Education Programs and the Labor Market
To help students leave high school on a path toward success in the labor market, education policymakers and practitioners often focus on improving career and technical education (CTE) opportunities in high school. Understanding the alignment between high school CTE programs and the labor market is an important step in this process. To support CTE improvement efforts, this study quantitatively assessed the alignment between West Virginia’s high school CTE programs and the labor market, with a focus on alignment to regional high-demand occupations that require moderate occupational preparation. These “high-demand study occupations” are the 20 occupations in each region of West Virginia with the largest number of long-term projected employment openings from 2014 to 2024 that require more than a high school diploma (for example, a license or work-related experience) but less than a bachelor’s degree. The study found that 70 percent of West Virginia’s long-term projected employment openings typically require some occupational preparation beyond a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree. Further, 93 percent of the regional long-term projected employment openings in high-demand study occupations were served by at least one aligned CTE program in the same region. However, students in only 53 percent of the state’s CTE programs were in a program that aligned to at least one high-demand study occupation within their region. West Virginia stakeholders can use the findings to improve their CTE system’s alignment and better prepare students for a postsecondary career. This study also serves as an example for policymakers and practitioners in other states who are interested in quantifying their CTE system’s alignment in order to make data-informed decisions.
This was a descriptive study on how secondary teachers implementing the Common Core State Standards for literacy used writing software to facilitate their instruction. Teachers from districts participating in the Literacy Design Collaborative volunteered to be in the study. They were trained on one of three software programs— Criterion (ETS), PEG Writing (Measurement, Inc.), or WriteToLearn (Pearson). The majority of teacher volunteers who were trained on the software used it with their students. Data were collected through an online teacher survey, analysis of backend system data, interviews, and classroom observations.
Most teachers reported that using the software (1) led them to assign more writing, (2) enabled them to focus more on the content and less on the grammar and mechanics of students’ writing, and (3) improved student writing. Teachers expressed frustration that the software was optimized for use with canned prompts and provided less detailed feedback on teacher-generated prompts.
The Human Resources (HR) Pilot was one of three Race to the Top-funded Human Capital Management Initiatives by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The HR Pilot initiative focused on the goal of effecting systemic changes under seven human resources “levers” to drive improvement in teacher knowledge and skills. The seven levers included recruitment, professional development, evaluation, and broader organizational structures and adult professional culture. SRI Education conducted longitudinal case studies of the three pilot districts, examining changes in policy and practices under key levers and factors shaping variation in implementation, including leadership, labor management relations, communication and buy-in, and technical assistance. The report culminates in a discussion of sustainability and lessons learned in district reform.