Highlights from 2018 and What’s Ahead in 2019

This post was written by Education Evolving staff

We hope your year is off to a great start! As students and teachers return from break, and legislators convene for the session, we’d like to take time to reflect on the past 12 months. After a year of partnerships cultivated and important work done, we’re resolved to make 2019 another banner year. Below are some highlights from the last year, and how they set us up for the new one.

Advocating for and Informing Education Policy Change

In 2018: We advocated for and helped to implement state policy changes that enable and encourage innovation and student-centered learning, including:

  • Working closely with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and school districts across the state to implement the new Innovation Zone law, which was passed in 2017 after being championed by an EE-led coalition. We helped five districts develop their IZ proposals and published an FAQ to clarify some important aspects of the law.
  • Serving on several of MDE’s Every Student Succeeds Act committees to inform the state’s new accountability plan, and advocating for broader and deeper measures of student success and school quality—including the new narrative question that was added to school report cards fall 2018, consistent with an EE recommendation. We also published a briefing memo on the measures used in state data systems across the country.
  • Working with PELSB and other education organizations on rule for the new, four-tiered teacher licensure system and two organizations on their alternative teacher preparation programs. To help in this process, we published a History memo and an FAQ about PELSB.

Additionally, we published more than 25 blog posts about relevant education policy issues in Minnesota, which were widely read by educators, policymakers, and others around the state.

In 2019: We will be active at the Capitol, advocating for new competency-based education legislation. We will also be advocating for changes to rules regarding teacher preparation programs and the Standards of Effective Practice. Stay tuned for other policy priorities and updates as the session unfolds.

Foundational Research on Student-Centered Learning

In 2018: We published two papers to further articulate our work with student-centered learning:

  • In January, we released Evidence for Student-Centered Learning, which makes the case for shifting school designs from adult-centered and standardized to student-centric and individualized. The report outlines seven principles of student-centered learning that, when realized, result in learning that is equitable, relevant, and rigorous.
  • In October, we released Defining and Measuring Student-Centered Outcomes, which reviews the outcomes that researchers, students, educators, families, and communities have indicated are important for student success in the 21st century. The paper provides a vision for states, schools, districts, students and families who want to reimagine outcomes to be more student-centered.

In 2019: The conclusions from these publications will continue to inform our initiatives and policy priorities. We will also be doing new research in 2019, on the problem of low teacher retention rates—especially as it relates to issues of maintaining stable, healthy, diverse, and collaborative school culture and climate.

Supporting Innovative Minnesota Educators

In 2018: We helped connect and support a core group of schools that are implementing innovative designs for student-centered learning and collaborative leadership. We hosted 100+ teachers, school leaders, and others at a February convening—in partnership with University of St. Thomas, KnowledgeWorks, iNACOL, and Education Reimagined—exploring the what and how of student-centered learning; hosted several events and happy hours; and provided direct coaching and support to at least two dozen schools.

In 2019: We will be continuing to connect and support schools, through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and events—including a large practitioner convening we will be hosting this spring (stay tuned for details!).

Teacher-Powered National Conference

In 2018: November 30 to December 2, we hosted Designing for Success, the third Teacher-Powered Schools Conference in Boston, where 325 attendees gathered from 26 states to share best-practices about collaboratively leading schools. As we wrote last month about the sold-out event, “teachers told similar stories: frustrated that traditional school models did not meet their community’s needs, teachers, parents, and community members joined together to design new schools that would.”

In 2019: We will share those teacher-powered stories on our blog and offer new resources to sustain the connections made and ideas shared in Boston. The next conference is in Minneapolis in 2020.

Thank you for following and supporting us, whether you’re new to the fold or have been with us for years. We looking forward to expanding our work, deepening our relationships, and continuing to advance student-centered learning.

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