Grantee Reports and Publications

Internationals Network for Public Schools: A Deeper Learning Approach to Supporting English Language Learners
Description       Full Report

All too often in U.S. schools, English learners are segregated into classrooms that are on the margins of our educational system. In these learning spaces, English learners are often asked to engage with remedial content and face low expectations. In addition, some educators may perceive secondary students who are English learners as being too old to “catch up.”
Whereas some schools seemingly maintain limited goals and expectations for English learners, the Internationals Network for Public Schools sees potential and has high expectations. Internationals is a network of 27 schools situated within public school districts across the nation that serves
secondary students who are recent immigrants and English learners. The network expects that all of its students will graduate ready for college, career, and life and that all students will be ready to pursue a meaningful postsecondary path.
To meet these expectations, Internationals has developed a school model that emphasizes rigorous academics, linguistic dignity, and bilingualism. Internationals schools integrate language development across content areas while engaging students in deeper learning—pedagogical approaches, including project-based learning, work-based learning, and performance assessments, that allow students to explore their interests and learn academic content in personalized and inquiry-based ways. Deeper learning approaches help students think critically and solve complex problems using mathematical, scientific, and creative reasoning. To this end, teachers engage students in learning experiences that require collaboration, effective communication, and self-directed inquiry, enabling students to “learn how to learn” and develop academic mindsets that increase perseverance and productive learning behaviors.
In addition to these pedagogical features, Internationals’ students are further supported by school structures that address their social and emotional needs, including regular access to social workers, counselors, and wrap around services. The inclusion of language and content integration, a deeper learning approach, and a focus on the whole student has allowed Internationals to provide a range of coordinated supports that produce strong outcomes for English learners.
This report highlights how Internationals has managed to re-create, sustain, and spread its complex and equity-oriented model across the country, even in the face of the challenges that arise when seeking to create substantive changes to teaching and learning. The report begins with a description of the network’s model and how it designs schools with structures—such as mixed-age classes, teaching looping, interdisciplinary team collaboration, and advisories—to bring its vision and commitments to life. In addition, it identifies the systems and structures that have enabled
Internationals to re-create its model in a high-quality manner. The report suggests that:

  1. Internationals works collaboratively with local practitioners to establish its schools, helping ensure that its deeper learning model is feasible and sustainable.
    With its clear vision for teaching and learning, Internationals instantiates its vision and values in schools through collaborative processes that ensure the model is feasible and responsive to the community. On one hand, the network maintains a set of conditions that it strives to secure so that its complex model can be implemented, including Internationals’ input on staffing, flexibility on graduation timelines and requirements, and assurances that Internationals staff can incorporate language development into their core instruction.
    At the same time, Internationals staff do not establish their schools in a top-down fashion. Instead, they engage in ongoing discussions with district leaders and local educators about student need and the feasibility and fit of the model to ensure that it is a welcomed and
    responsive addition to the local community.
    Implications for schools and districts: Internationals’ ongoing collaboration with local communities suggests that deeper learning models can be well supported when local stakeholders are involved in establishing deeper learning schools. Similarly, school and district leaders seeking to implement deeper learning approaches can develop a clear understanding of the policies and structures they need to instantiate their visions and then consider how they can intentionally and authentically partner with the local communities from the onset.
  2. Internationals cultivates a culture of professional learning in which teachers and leaders learn about and experience Internationals’ model and hone their abilities to implement the model in collaborative and ongoing ways.
    Because the Internationals model varies from traditional ways of educating English learners, the network deliberately engages teachers and leaders in immersive professional development so that teachers can effectively implement its approach. The network invests early in its educators and leaders, onboarding them with a series of learning opportunities that allow them to experience the network’s instructional model and to learn with and from their experienced colleagues. The network also engages its teachers in professional learning with their colleagues via structured collaboration time and through the network’s characteristic open-door policy, wherein teachers visit each other’s classrooms to provide feedback or to learn new techniques. This policy encourages transparency and mutual accountability. The network also hosts cross-network workshops that gather teachers and leaders around specific topics and build communities of practice. Taken collectively, these professiona learning opportunities advance a culture of continuous learning in Internationals schools and provide a reinforcing system of support for educators as they implement the network’s complex model.
    Implications for schools and districts: Internationals’ approach to supporting teachers and leaders can provide lessons for those seeking to implement deeper learning for English learners in their schools. Findings suggest the importance of experiential and immersive learning for educators and the need to build and maintain multifaceted systems for professional support that
    emphasize continuous improvement and collaboration.

Deeper Learning Networks: Taking Student-Centered Learning and Equity to Scale
Description       Full Report

Can teaching and learning practices that foster “deeper learning” among all students—not just the most advantaged—be successfully replicated across large numbers of schools? The answer is an unqualified “yes,” according to a new study released today by the Learning Policy Institute. The study examines how Internationals Network and two other school networks representing mostly students of color from low-income families have successfully taken student-centered learning and equity to scale.

Deeper learning approaches, including project-based learning, experiential work-based learning, and performance assessments, allow students to explore their interests in personalized and inquiry-based ways, learn core academic content, and develop key skills such as collaboration, communication, and critical problem solving that enable them to apply their knowledge in ways that prepare them for college, career, and citizenship. The new study, Deeper Learning Networks: Taking Student-Centered Learning and Equity to Scale, features three case studies and a cross-case report and brief that take an in-depth look at how three networks of schools successfully overcame major barriers to instituting complex teaching and learning practices in a variety of settings and enabled positive outcomes for their students. The networks—with a combined 271 schools and 90,000 students in the United States and abroad—are Big Picture Learning, the Internationals Network for Public Schools, and New Tech Network. 

“Internationals Network’s approach is grounded in the premise that deeper learning is for all students, especially recent immigrant and refugee multilingual learners” said Joe Luft, Executive Director of Internationals Network. “Providing multilingual learners access to meaningful learning, and supporting teachers and leaders to implement deeper learning structures and practices has always been Internationals recipe for success. We are proud to be among three networks studied in the Learning Policy Institute reports, highlighting how we “re-create, sustain and spread” our innovative and equity-oriented approach in partnership with districts across the country.”  

While each has its own distinct approach, the three networks – which work in partnership with districts, rather than as networks of charter schools — have taken common steps to re-create their deeper learning models in new settings while adapting to the challenges and opportunities in local communities. These steps include:

  • Designing whole schools with structures to personalize learning and to support equitable outcomes, including supports that address students’ academic and social-emotional needs;
  • Collaborating with  district, and community partners to implement network models in ways that develop a shared commitment to deeper learning and equity;
  • Providing ongoing, multifaceted, and experiential professional learning that enables teachers and leaders to develop and improve their practice;
  • Developing leaders who deeply understand and are committed to implementing network practices in new and existing sites; and
  • Maintaining a learning orientation that allows the network and its affiliated schools to continually improve their designs to ensure quality and equity.

“There is no question that deeper learning approaches are fundamental to modern education,” said Learning Policy Institute President and Stanford Professor Emeritus Linda Darling-Hammond. “And yet, far too often these approaches are only available to affluent,  students attending well-resourced schools. What we have learned from studying these three exemplary school networks is that systems can be put in place in sustainable, scalable ways that ensure all students—and especially traditionally underserved students—can experience high-quality learning that prepares them to succeed in the 21st century.”

English Learners with Disabilities: Shining a Light on Dual-Identified Students
Description       Full Report

Nearly 5 million public school students in the United States are classified as English learners (ELs), a number on the rise in recent decades. From 2000 to 2015, ELs increased from 8.1 to 9.6 percent of the total student population, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Within this group of EL students, nearly 15 percent also qualify for special education services. These students are commonly referred to as “dual-identified,” entitled to receive extra supports for both English language acquisition and learning with a disability.

But this subgroup of dual-identified students is not well understood or well served. Across the country, districts, schools, and educators struggle to discern whether students are lagging because of disability, language proficiency, or both, and then further struggle to provide appropriate instruction and related services that meet the comprehensive needs of each individual student.

Designing policies and practices that meet the diversity of language development and disability needs is inherently difficult work. Indeed, delivering appropriate services and supports for students with disabilities from monolingual, English-speaking families is, by itself, a complex challenge for schools. The work of appropriately identifying and serving students becomes all the more complicated when a student is learning across multiple languages. Disentangling issues of language acquisition and disability in the youngest years, when children are learning to speak, read, and write for the first time, is even more difficult.

One of the largest policy concerns is the disproportionate identification of EL students with learning disabilities. This problem cuts in both directions: Studies suggest that ELs are at risk of being both over- and under-identified for special education services. The EL student population also faces challenges beyond language acquisition. ELs are more likely than non-ELs to live in low-income families, to attend schools with high concentrations of other low-income ELs, and to experience limited or interrupted formal schooling, high mobility, low attendance, and medical problems stemming from unreliable access to health care.3 The EL population is enormously diverse, representing different races, ethnicities, nationalities, and languages spoken. It is also not a static population, as students who are classified as ELs will be reclassified as English proficient.4 These realities further complicate the process of developing equitable and effective strategies for dual-identified EL students.

The following brief provides an overview of the separate but intersecting federal policies that govern the identification of and services provided to English learners and students with disabilities. This overview will frame key opportunities to serve ELs with disabilities more equitably with the aim of helping policymakers, advocates, and practitioners take more strategic action on behalf of these students.

Ready to Succeed: Kindergarten Teachers Support Investments in High-Quality Pre-K
Description       Full Report

Children who attend a high-quality, publicly funded pre-k program enter kindergarten ready to succeed. An extensive body of research demonstrates the academic and social benefits of high-quality pre-k, including a reduced need for special education, remedial education services, decreased dropout rates and increased likelihood of graduation and college enrollment. Early learning investments have also been linked to reduced crime and incarceration rates and less reliance on public assistance programs. 

Since the Pre-K for PA Campaign formed in 2013, a diverse group of supporters have articulated strong support for state funding increases in pre-k, including governors and legislators from both sides of the aisle, business and education leaders, law enforcement officials, high-ranking military officers, pediatricians and world-class athletes.

Now, kindergarten teachers are joining the ever-growing list of supporters in favor of state funding increases in pre-k because they see firsthand the impact that high-quality pre-k has on a student’s success in the classroom.

Supporting Social, Emotional, & Academic Development: Research Implications for Educators
Description       Full Report
This research synthesis is designed to help teachers and principals support equitable outcomes for all students. It suggests ways teachers, administrators, and school support personnel can use insights from research to create Pre-K-12 schools and classrooms that advance educational equity. The synthesis brings together the UChicago Consortium’s ground-breaking research on the influence of school climate on student achievement, the importance of mindsets and developmental experiences, as well as other leading education research. It draws attention to the critical role of engagement and mindsets in student success; how teachers and administrators can create strong school climates that support students and engage families as partners; and how responsive classrooms can enable all students to have strong academic engagement.
Media in Action: A Field Scan of Media & Youth Organizing in the United States
Description       Full Report

“Media — finding your voice and determining how to tell your own story — is the first essential step in your own liberation,” said Kim McGill, an organizer with the Los Angeles-based Youth Justice Coalition. Back in 2003, Kim and some 60 other people who had been jailed, imprisoned or deported got together to build a youth, family and prisoner-led movement to end juvenile detention.

“All of us had been through the system as young people,” Kim said. “Los Angeles county was locking up more young people than anywhere else in the world. People told stories of lock-up, and coming home.”

Youth Justice Coalition is one of an estimated dozens of groups in the US that use popular education and other methods of critical inquiry to support young people from marginalized communities to become activists, conduct participatory action research, and make media in the form of videos, written reports, and radio pieces. Their goal is not only to publicize their findings, but also to reframe ideas at the level of community dialogue and in the mass-media. Ultimately, they aim to organize and inspire audiences and youth producers to take political action.

“When we first formed, there were almost no organizations where formerly incarcerated people were speaking for ourselves,” Kim said. “It was always professional advocates with graduate degrees and lawyers speaking for us. We found that in order to move policy, we needed to create our own reports. Now we speak for ourselves and make our own demands. Creating alternative media has meant a lot to people’s sense of independence.”

Youth Justice Coalition has collected stories on video and created written reports to share with community members, elected officials and law enforcement. Youth Justice Coalition members have improved conditions at juvenile detention centers, reduced the county’s use of imprisonment for youth, and challenged “war on gangs” policing policies targeting low-income youth of color. While Los Angeles’ police department was touted as a “model” for reform in the era following the Rodney King beating, young people working with Youth Justice Coalition published the county’s first report to name all victims of police killings since the year 2000.

Other youth and their allies around the country were also discovering the potential of youth-led media projects to build political organizing skills and incite action on issues that were being ignored by adults and mainstream media. In New York City’s historically queer-friendly West Village, young LGBTQ people working with the Manhattan-based youth organization, FIERCE!, used video to document the loss they felt when they were forced by new, gentrifying residents to stop meeting at the Christopher Street Pier, a longstanding destination point for queer youth who had nowhere else to go.

In rural Kentucky in 2001, in response to a growing local crisis at the time, young people made a short video documentary, “Because of Oxycontin,” to expose the dangerous side effects of the prescription painkiller that they saw ripping apart their community.

“Students are on the ground and know what’s going on,” said Ben Spangler, who worked with the young film producers at the Appalachian Media Institute in Whitesburg, Kentucky. “They tackled this issue before anyone else was talking about it. After they produced the documentary, they sent it to senators and representatives in the state. Soon after, it began being discussed, and they ended up putting regulations on the drug.”

Beyond Brochures: Practicing "Soul Care" in the Recruitment of Teachers of Color
Description       Full Report
Drawing on interviews with four new teachers of Color in San Francisco public schools, case studies of the Seattle and Boston Teacher Residencies, and decades of research, “Beyond Brochures” identifies seven barriers people of Color face to become teachers, and offers recommendations for how teacher preparation programs and policymakers can address this growing problem.
Preparing Teachers of Young Children: The Current State of Knowledge, and a Blueprint for the Future [Executive Summary]
Description       Full Report
By Marcy Whitebook, Deanna Gomby, Dan Bellm, Laura Sakai, and Fran Kipnis This two-part paper examines the early care and education (ECE) and K-12 research literature in depth to assess the current state of knowledge about the effective preparation of excellent teachers, and charts a research and policy agenda for the future.
Part I: Teacher Preparation and Professional Development in Grades K-12 and in Early Care and Education: Differences and Similarities, and Implications for Research
Description       Full Report
Part I summarizes the differences between the K-12 and the early care and education fields. The researchers found more than enough similarities to warrant a close consideration of the combined wisdom of both fields.
Degrees in Context: Asking the Right Questions about Preparing Skilled and Effective Teachers of Young Children
Description       Full Report
The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment and the National Institute for Early Education Research have jointly published a NIEER Policy Brief, "Degrees in Context: Asking the Right Questions about Preparing Skilled and Effective Teachers of Young Children." In this Policy Brief, Marcy Whitebook and Sharon Ryan argue that too much attention has been given to debating the baseline qualifications required of preschool teachers - AA vs. BA. They contend that it is just as necessary to take into account the nature of the education teachers receive en route to a degree, supports for ongoing learning, and the effects of the workplace environment on teaching practice.
Part II: Effective Teacher Preparation in Early Care and Education: Toward a Comprehensive Research Agenda
Description       Full Report
Part II contains an in-depth review of the ECE and K-12 teacher preparation research and outlines what remains to be learned. It concludes with a set of key recommendations for research and policy.
Staff Preparation, Reward, and Support: Are Quality Rating and Improvement Systems Addressing All of the Key Ingredients Necessary for Change?
Description       Full Report
As quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs) increasingly become the key strategy for improving the quality of early care and education, it is critical to understand and examine how such systems define quality, the benchmarks used to indicate quality, and the opportunities in place to support improvement. This report examines the extent to which QRISs support the professional development of practitioners and include in their rating rubrics key ingredients - staff qualifications, direct compensation, and the factors related to work settings - that have been linked to quality.
Learning Together: A Study of Six B.A. Completion Cohort Programs in Early Care and Education, Year 3
Description       Full Report
The Year 3 interviews of the Learning Together study reveal that the vast majority of students successfully graduated from their B.A. cohort program. Year 3 interviews focused on two issues of concern about higher education programs – the practicum experiences for employed students and the adequacy of attention to working with children from linguistically diverse backgrounds. The graduates overwhelmingly reported that their B.A. classes provided them with skills and strategies needed to communicate with children who speak a language other than their own. While the majority of students reported that their practicum experiences helped them do a better job at their workplace, they also identified several areas for improvement. The Year 3 study also reports on the graduates' perspectives about support at their jobs for ongoing learning and any changes in employment and/or compensation upon completing their degree.
Leading School Improvement with Data: A Theory of Action to Extend the Sphere of Student Success
Description       Full Report
This is the first in a series of three evaluations of SAM (Scaffolded Apprenticeship Model), the primary methodology New Visions for Public Schools is using with its PSO schools to build capacity for ongoing gains in student improvement. The evaluation, led by Dr. Joan Talbert of the Center for Research on the Context of Teaching at Stanford University, examines SAM's theory of change, which posits that teams of educators can continually expand a school's "sphere of success" by using data to identify specific skill gaps among targeted students and design interventions aimed at accelerating student learning. Dr. Talbert's findings point to four key principles for the success of SAM's inquiry-based approach to reform, including:
  • "keeping the focus small" by helping educators address specific, identified skill gaps in order to accelerate student learning;
  • shifting the classroom focus from what is being taught to what is being learned;
  • challenging assumptions and practices that limit student success; and
  • navigating colleague resistance and facilitating adult learning.
California Preschool Study
Description       Full Report
The RAND Corporation has undertaken the RAND California Preschool Study, a landmark study of the utilization and quality of preschool programs for 3- and 4-year olds in California. RAND researchers surveyed a representative group of 2,000 parents with preschool-age children and more than 700 providers and observed about 250 child care and preschool centers. The study's findings hold significant implications for the future of early childhood education on this state. To date, RAND has completed 5 studies . The five studies currently available are: Who is Ahead and Who is Behind? Gaps in School Readiness and Student Achievement in the Early Grades for California's Children; Early Care and Education in the Golden State: Publicly-Funded Programs Serving California's Preschool-Age Children; Prepared to Learn: The Nature and Quality of Early Care and Education for Preschool-Age Children in California; Preschool Adequacy and Efficiency in California: Issues: Policy Options, and Recommendations; and A Golden Opportunity: Advancing California's Early Care and Education Workforce Professional Development System. These studies as well as policy implications may be found at the following link: http://www.rand.org/labor/projects/ca_preschool/.
2006-07 Youth Justice Board Report & Recommendations
Description       Full Report
Stand Up Stand Out: Recommendations to Improve Youth Participation in New York City's Permanency Planning Process by Members of the Youth Justice Board, a program of the Center for Court Innovation Written by the 16 teenage members of the 2006-2007 Youth Justice Board, this report proposes 14 specific recommendations to improve the court experiences and outcomes for adolescents in foster care. The Youth Justice Board, which consists of New York City youth 15 to 19 years old, spent several months researching New York City's permanency planning process, interviewing over 40 child welfare and court professionals, conducting two focus groups of youth in care and observing Family Court proceedings in Kings County, Bronx County and New York County Family Courts.