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Ideas matter. In addition to our work with clients, Bellwether Education Partners generates and gathers ideas and policy solutions, analyzes ongoing reform efforts, and writes about and discusses education and education reform. We believe that the work we do to improve education for all students benefits from thought leadership, analysis, and thoughtful discourse around emerging ideas, in order to help challenge leaders and leading organizations to think differently and improve, to coordinate efforts where possible, to inform policymakers and improve the political and policy context, and to share successful approaches with the public education field at large.

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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?

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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,

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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.

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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.

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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:

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Families, teachers, and communities all have varying perspectives on what the school year can and should hold for students. School leaders need to balance these voices in decision-making through effective and authentic stakeholder engagement.

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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. Learn more about the new site features by clicking below:

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The coronavirus pandemic will have a profound, lasting impact on students, particularly those who are already marginalized. This includes students in foster care, those in juvenile detention facilities, or those experiencing homelessness. Schools, districts, nonprofit organizations, and other partners play a critical role in ensuring that systems of care support young people who need our help the most.

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With school opening just weeks away in many parts of the country, leaders need a detailed level of support — and a plan — to start the school year in the midst of a global pandemic. Our complementary new resource includes all of the components of a reopening plan, offers questions school leaders should address, and links to concrete resources and examples of completed plans as guides.

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More than 400,000 youth are currently in foster care in the United States, many of whom experience significant obstacles in their lives, ranging from frequent transitions between homecare placements and schools to unmet physical and mental health needs. Youth in foster care experience a number of common obstacles in accessing school choice: lack of transportation to remain in their school of origin, narrow definitions of sibling preference that leave out children in foster care, and insufficient information available to adults in their lives.

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