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Eight Cities, Relaunched

Publication

When EightCities.org first launched in 2018, it documented the stories of leaders in school systems across the country working to drive rapid improvement in student achievement by empowering school leaders, providing families with multiple school options, and replacing persistently low-performing schools with high-quality options. While each city’s path looked a little different, they all deployed a common suite of strategies and achieved measurable progress for their students.  

The reaction to these stories has been incredible, helping to make EightCities.org Bellwether's most-visited publication of 2018. There’s a real appetite for tangible examples of how communities can make significant and systemic improvement for kids — a desire that is even more urgent after the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools across the nation.

So in 2020, Bellwether is offering an enhanced and updated version of EightCities.org. In addition to the original content, the site now includes:

  • Updated city profiles: We’ve added timelines of key events and notes on what has happened since each city’s original story left off.

  • More depth on strategy: The suite of strategies shared by these districts are covered in greater detail, offering specific examples of policies and tools used to help build systems of continually improving schools. 

  • New resources and perspectives: Links to additional research and commentary bring in more voices — including those of educators, principals, and parents.

  • COVID-19 impact summary: Several cities featured on this site became epicenters of COVID-19 outbreaks, so we include detail on the impact of the pandemic. 

The updated EightCities.org is a new chapter in a hopeful tale that recognizes these cities’ successes while acknowledging setbacks that have stymied continued progress and raise legitimate questions. While none of these cities has fully “cracked the code” to deliver success for all students, their progress and efforts are worth revisiting: What can we learn and how should their experience inform the future of schools in my city?