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Learn more about Bellwether’s work by reading our publications, news articles, press releases, and case studies.

  • Publication
    Ashley LiBetti
    Lynne Graziano
    Jennifer O’Neal Schiess

    COVID-19 has altered education as we know it, and no one school has found the perfect approach to distance learning. Every school struggles with the dual priorities of sustaining student learning and ensuring students are safe, fed, and well, all outside of the school building.

    However, some schools more quickly adopted promising practices in response to common challenges, offering lessons for other schools seeking to improve their distance learning models.

    Promise in the Time of Quarantine: Exploring Schools’ Responses to COVID-19 highlights 12 district and charter schools from across the country:

    • Breakthrough Public Schools (Ohio)
    • Gentry School District (Arkansas)
    • Hamilton Grange Middle School (New York)
    • Impact Public Schools (Washington)
    • Kairos Academies (Missouri)
    • KIPP Columbus High School (Ohio)
    • Nampa School District (Idaho)
    • Rocketship Public Schools (California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and D.C.)
    • Steel City Academy (Indiana)
    • Summit Sierra High School (Washington)
    • Treasure Valley Classical Academy (Idaho)
    • Uncommon Schools (Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York)

  • Publication
    Ashley LiBetti
    Juliet Squire
    Jennifer O’Neal Schiess

    Districts across the country play a crucial role in ensuring schools effectively serve students and families. Beyond federal requirements in the Every Student Succeeds Act and state-level accountability systems, locally developed school performance frameworks are a key lever for holding schools accountable, particularly for student learning and wellness. 

  • Publication
    Lynne Graziano
    Chad Aldeman

    As more schools prepare students for a high school diploma and college and career readiness, how are states tracking the effectiveness of these programs? Are states tracking the right measures, like whether students are taking and passing advanced courses, completing industry certifications, or pursuing other work-based learning opportunities?

  • Media
    Lauren Schwartze
    Nate Kellogg

    The last six months have posed an unprecedented level of instructional and operational challenge as school systems navigated closure and planned return. Through a networked-community called the 

  • Media
    Kelly Robson

    Some Democrats and Republicans have an unlikely alliance these days around one thing: their sudden rejection of the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP), which funds start-up costs for new, high-quality charter schools. Not only do both sides’ current arguments overlook long-standing bipartisan support, they also ignore the long history of charter schools serving some of the nation’s highest-need students and communities.

  • Publication
    Ashley LiBetti
    Jennifer O'Neal Schiess
    National Association of Charter School Authorizers

    Great charter school authorizers believe in the charter school promise and relentlessly pursue excellence to give every child an educational option that meets their needs.

    In the wake of COVID-19, authorizers have an opportunity to rethink approaches to measuring student success and wellness. In this new collection of resources, Bellwether worked with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers to look at what new and better measures charter school authorizers can use to ensure student learning, school performance, and quality,

  • Publication
    Ashley LiBetti
    Juliet Squire
    Justin Trinidad
    Amy Chen Kulesa
    Rebecca Gifford Goldberg

    One of the greatest promises of the charter school movement has been the potential to create diverse school models to meet the varied needs of children, families, and communities. As policy makers and charter leaders have recognized the need to hold charters accountable for strong performance, however, there has been a move towards more standardized ways of evaluating the potential and performance of schools. And now, COVID-19 has upended how charter schools across the country are operating and how authorizers hold schools accountable for outcomes. This report and related toolkits shed light on what authorizing looks like in practice when fostering a diversity of school models and holding them accountable for quality.

  • Publication
    Kelly Robson
    Juliet Squire
    Indira Dammu

    Over the last 25 years, the federal Charter Schools Program (CSP) has invested nearly $5.3 billion into the charter school sector, directing funds to schools in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Approximately 60% of students in CSP grantee schools are from low-income backgrounds and 64% are Black or Hispanic. The CSP has played a critical role in helping the charter sector grow to its current size, serving 3.3 million students in 7,500 schools nationwide. This publication offers an in-depth analysis of the CSP and how it has evolved to better meet the needs of charter schools and the families and communities they serve.

  • Media
    Chad Aldeman

    Students lose learning even during brief school closures for snow days. The harm from COVID will be multiplied many times over. During particularly harsh winters when schools are closed, states require students to make up any days they miss. So why aren’t states requiring students to make up the learning time they lose due to COVID-19?

  • Publication
    Alex Spurrier
    Chad Aldeman
    Jennifer O'Neal Schiess
    Andrew J. Rotherham

    As a global pandemic interrupted purposefully designed systems of testing and accountability, we are left with critical questions: How does the underlying theory of standards-based accountability and its foundational goals of equity and transparency hold up decades later? What do key stakeholders need from these systems now? Given what we’ve learned from decades of successes and failures, how should these systems continue to evolve in the face of mounting political opposition?

    Bellwether's series takes a step back to examine the past, present, and future of modern school accountability systems. We've also added three short resources to help state policymakers, advocates, and school and district leaders apply the lessons and ideas from these briefs to their work. Read the newest brief and takeaways at the link below:

  • Media
    Jennifer O'Neal Schiess

    Now is not the time to roll back testing in Georgia. Milestones is the only data that provide transparency into how every public school is doing.

  • Media
    Jennifer O'Neal Schiess

    South Carolinians, like the rest of Americans, are under a lot of stress and anxiety. For schools, it could get worse. State Superintendent Molly Spearman is seeking a waiver from standardized testing to “relieve anxiety.”

    But what about the anxiety produced by uncertainty? Spearman’s proposal would leave students, parents and communities in the dark on how students are doing during a pandemic that is here to stay in the near-term.

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