Pivot Collaborates with PACE to Release Rural Professional Learning Network Research Paper

Pivot Collaborates with PACE to Release Rural Professional Learning Network Research Paper

“We don’t really have the expertise on site so we rely on working with other small school districts and the curriculum department at our [county] office of education.”

                                                                                -Rural School Leader

Over the past two years , with generous support from the S.H. Cowell and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Pivot Learning has supported and collaborated with twenty-one rural districts and counties in Northern California to create the Rural Professional Learning Network (RPLN). Through an iterative design process, the RPLN has joined forces to overcome unique challenges due to their limited budgets and remote locations and effectively implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards.

Pivot partnered with Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), an independent, nonpartisan research center at Stanford University, to conduct research and present findings on the current challenges facing rural districts in California. The research was lead by Dr. Thomas Timar, an expert in education finance, policy, and governance, director of the UC Davis Center for Applied Policy in Education (CAP-Ed), and member of the PACE steering committee. In the report, “Surprising Strengths and Substantial Needs: Rural District Implementation of Common Core State Standards”, Dr. Timar and his colleagues found that “If small rural districts are to succeed in meaningful, deep implementation of CCSS, the state, COEs and other support providers must provide small and rural districts with access to relevant exemplars of systemic standards implementation.”

Based on research collected from RPLN’s first year, recommendations on how to better support rural districts included:

1) Encouraging rural districts and schools to think strategically and effectively about time management and resources.

2) Providing ongoing resources to small and rural districts to support professional development according to diverse teacher and student needs, innovative delivery methods, and effective, measurable impact.

3) Redefining the State and Local Role for Instructional and Curricular Support with specific consideration to the needs of small and rural districts.

Pivot and PACE are continuing to collaborate on this work, with the addition of El Dorado County into the RPLN. Additionally, Pivot is working with the Collaboration in Common platform to support the sharing of tools, resources, and supports between districts and between different networks.

The RPLN seeks to alleviate local capacity and statewide infrastructure issues within rural districts by leveraging both in-person meetings and virtual collaboration tools. As part of this network, education leaders identify their core implementation challenges (problems of practice or PoPs). The larger network works collaboratively to develop and share solutions for these challenges. Through this model, counties and districts identify, employ, and disseminate best practices in CCSS.

Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) is an independent, non-partisan research center based at Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Davis. PACE seeks to define and sustain a long-term strategy for comprehensive policy reform and continuous improvement in performance at all levels of California’s education system, from early childhood to post-secondary education and training. PACE bridges the gap between research and policy, working with scholars from California’s leading universities and with state and local policymakers to increase the impact of academic research on educational policy in California. For more information, see edpolicyinca.org.

Count on Us: The Story of The Math Placement Practices Network

Count on Us: The Story of The Math Placement Practices Network

I was never that good at math—but I had a deep desire to become not only proficient, but exemplary, especially in calculus.

In my high school, I was one of only a few African-American students. I completed three years of math, and worked tirelessly solving equations in my trigonometry course only to end up with mediocre grades. The school offered few resources to accelerate my academic growth in this pursuit. Nevertheless, I graduated from high school and went to college. I eventually earned a graduate degree in Education and taught for five years in a school in inner-city Detroit.

Many students in California are faced with the opposite challenge. A 2010 Noyce Foundation study titled “Pathway Reports: Dead Ends and Wrong Turns on the Path Through Algebra” found that approximately 65 percent of students who took Algebra I in eighth grade were made to repeat the same course in ninth grade. Additional research revealed that these misplacements were particularly notable for African-American and Latino boys, and posed challenges for high school students, affecting their opportunities in college, careers, and life.

To address this issue, in 2015 Senator Holly Mitchell (D), with support from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, worked to pass the California Math Placement Act. Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation in that same year requiring school districts to design equitable policies that “systematically take multiple, current or existing, objective measures” to ensure students are advancing to the next prescribed course in the mathematics progression.

Since the law was passed, most school districts in California have struggled with its implementation. The East Side Alliance (ESA), which consists of eight partner districts that together serve nearly 85,000 students in seven elementary schools and one high school district, has been at the forefront of that work. Even before the Math Placement Act was passed, ESA members worked collaboratively through the Student Algebra Project to ensure equitable outcomes for all students.

State policies, particularly in education, succeed or fail in implementation at the school and district levels and the California Math Placement Act is no exception. The Math Placement Practices Network, facilitated by Pivot Learning and funded by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, began working with ESA early this year to design and sustain a network of schools. This work has focused on developing a shared problem of practice to effectively implement the state’s policy–specifically to improve existing pathway criteria so that all students are placed appropriately. Particular attention has been centered on ensuring English Language Learners, students with special needs, and students of color are supported and challenged. We have been working with five ESA school districts: Alum Rock, Mount Pleasant, Berryessa Union, Franklin-McKinley and Oak Grove.

Our collaborative work has included identifying focus areas within math placement and developing specific visions and goals for each district’s work next year. As we reviewed data and discussed potential focus areas with district teams, several themes emerged:

  • In the Eastside Alliance, all 9th grade students are placed in Integrated Math I or II. However, not all students are successful in this placement. In middle school, students need to be better prepared to be successful in this placement.
  • There is an under-representation of students of color, English Language Learners, and students with special needs in the advanced pathways in middle schools.
  • The current set of criteria is working for placement for some but not all students, schools, and districts. We need to determine why and if/how the criteria might be modified.

Our partner districts are focusing on these final two sub-problem areas and are also examining the pathway criteria to address the under-representation of students of color and other sub-groups in advanced middle school pathways. To approach this work, we introduced Change Design, a process for moving from our shared problems to developing solutions and achieving our goals. Pivot has leveraged this model (inspired by IDEO and Stanford University’s d.school) to solve major system design challenges with schools and districts for the past several years.

Our final meeting with the network this year fused the change design process to develop individualized action plans for 2017-18. Our network will also utilize Collaboration in Common, a state-endorsed online portal, to share best practices and resources across districts to address our collective problem of practice.

Success for our students, particularly our African-American and Latino students, will depend upon equitable systems and protocols particularly as it pertains to math pathways. The Math Placement Practices Network convenes dedicated and committed educators working actively to ensure we guarantee this success for all students.

 

For more information about our networks, please contact us.

Pivot Learning Acquires Consortium On Reaching Excellence In Education Inc. (CORE)

Pivot Learning Acquires Consortium On Reaching Excellence In Education Inc. (CORE)

PIVOT LEARNING ACQUIRES CONSORTIUM ON REACHING EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION, INC. (CORE) THROUGH A GENEROUS GIFT FROM OWNERS

Oakland, CA – On May 22, 2017, the Pivot Learning Board of Directors approved the acquisition of the Consortium on Reaching Excellence in Education, Inc. (CORE) through a generous gift from the founder and owner Bill Honig, as well as owners Catherine Honig and Linda Diamond. This gift brings together two of the longest tenured and most respected education service providers to districts and schools in California and the nation.

Over the past 23 years, Pivot Learning has become the largest and most experienced non-profit technical assistance provider for school districts in California. Pivot’s mission is to revitalize our public school systems so that all students have the opportunity to succeed in college and career. Pivot works at the state, district, and school levels to develop systemic solutions in the areas of standards implementation, education finance, leadership development, and school redesign.

CORE is a national professional learning organization that has been serving schools, districts, and states for 23 years. CORE applies the research on best practices and effective adult learning principles to equip educators with the knowledge and skills to significantly improve academic achievement. Through targeted professional development, job-embedded coaching, principal mentorship, and careful selection of curriculum and assessments, CORE collaborates with school systems to implement high quality reading, writing, language, and math instruction PreK-12.

CORE will become a subsidiary of Pivot Learning and its CEO, Dr. Arun Ramanathan, will serve as Chairman of the CORE Board of Directors. Linda Diamond will serve as President of CORE. Pivot and CORE will continue to deliver their respective services and will work together to implement comprehensive solutions that take advantage of the unique strengths of each organization.

“CORE’s decades-long history of providing quality professional learning services to classroom teachers is a natural complement to Pivot’s long history of working in partnership with district and school leaders to transform education systems,” said Diamond. “We are thrilled by this new phase in our proud history.”

Said Ramanathan, “We are grateful to CORE’s owners for this generous gift. Together, Pivot Learning and CORE can better support schools and districts across California and nationally to achieve our mission of ensuring that all students graduate college and career ready.”

Contact:
Morgan Pulleyblank
mpulleyblank@pivotlearning.org
510.808.4067

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PIVOT LEARNING LAUNCHES “BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL” WITH PIONEERING DISTRICTS AND TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS TO TRANSFORM THE SECONDARY SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

PIVOT LEARNING LAUNCHES “BEYOND HIGH SCHOOL” WITH PIONEERING DISTRICTS AND TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS TO TRANSFORM THE SECONDARY SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

 

Pivot Learning joins Oceanside Unified, Monterey Unified, and Bonsall Unified, along with the Linked Learning Alliance, to rethink and redesign the 6-12 school experience.   

Oakland, CAPivot Learning is proud to announce the launch of the Beyond High School Initiative to transform the secondary school experience in order to ensure that all students can succeed in college and career. With generous support from the James Irvine Foundation, Pivot is partnering with Monterey Peninsula Unified, Oceanside Unified, and Bonsall Unified school districts and the Linked Learning Alliance to develop a comprehensive secondary redesign model utilizing a suite of cutting-edge technology tools.

The goal of Beyond High School is to transform the secondary experience to provide equitable access for all students to career-themed “pathways” or “academies” in areas such as computer science, healthcare, tourism, and agriculture. The model is based on the four pillars of the research-based Linked Learning approach – rigorous academics, career technical training, work-based learning, and personalized student supports. SRI International’s recently released seven-year evaluation of Linked Learning in nine California districts found decreased dropout rates, higher graduation rates, and more credits earned for students in linked learning pathways. The Beyond High School program is led by Dr. Laura Flaxman, founder of the nationally renowned Life Academy High School in Oakland, California.

“Our team of secondary experts has deep experience in redesigning schools and Linked Learning,” said Dr. Flaxman. “We are thrilled to be launching this important and innovative initiative as a proof point on how to rethink secondary education in California and the nation.”

Beyond High School has several key features. First, districts are supported by Pivot experts through a change design process. “Design teams” of district leaders, teachers, students, parents, community members, industry partners, and community college leaders plan, develop, and prototype their model for secondary redesign. In two of the districts, Bonsall and Monterey Peninsula Unified School Districts the teams are redesigning their full secondary pathways from 6-12. In Oceanside Unified School District, the team is redesigning one of their large comprehensive high schools: Oceanside High School.

“We are excited to partner with Pivot to ensure that all of our students are successful both in and beyond high school,” Reggie Thompkins, Deputy Superintendent, Oceanside Unified School District noted.

Pivot is also partnering with the Linked Learning Alliance to implement two new technology tools in all three districts. The first, Linked Learning Analytics, analyses vital student data allowing districts and community members to assess the impact of their redesigned secondary pathways on student outcomes. The second, Linked Learning Certification, provides the districts and school leaders with an intuitive online mechanism to officially certify their schools as Linked Learning Pathways. Pivot is also partnering with Abl and School by Design to pilot tools to transform the use of time, including tools to streamline and facilitate the master scheduling.

 

Pivot Learning and EdReports.org Team Up to Help CA Districts Select the Best Instructional Materials for Their Students

Pivot Learning and EdReports.org Team Up to Help CA Districts Select the Best Instructional Materials for Their Students

California educators know that curriculum and instructional materials can have a large impact on what and how well students learn. Quality instructional materials must be aligned to national and California content standards and meet the specific needs of districts and charters.

In Pivot’s work with dozens of districts throughout California, we have found that teachers and leaders are working hard to identify quality, relevant curriculum. One teacher in our Rural Professional Learning Network (RPLN) noted that her district hasn’t yet selected Common Core-aligned materials, “so teachers piece together old curriculum (10-15 years old) and online resources.” This struggle isn’t limited to Pivot’s partners. In a 2015 report, Morgan Polikoff, Associate Professor of Education at the University of Southern California, reported that only about 50% of schools in California have adopted at least one CCSS-aligned math textbook.

Because of the large number of state approved materials, California districts have often been challenged to identify the materials that are best aligned to the Math and English Language Arts content standards. Throughout the curriculum adoption process, districts can benefit from objective, detailed reviews of state approved curriculum. Outside reviews can provide comprehensive information about the quality and alignment of instructional materials so that district leaders can make the best choice for their teachers and students.

The California Curriculum Collaborative, an initiative of Pivot Learning and EdReports.org,  provides the rigorous independent reviews that districts and charter schools need. Using the independent information provided in EdReports.org, the CCC is designed to help districts and charters navigate the curriculum adoption process in California. The CCC also includes reviews of programs not included on California’s adopted programs list. Indeed, California allows districts to use off-list curricular materials (not on the state-approved list), and Dr. Polikoff found that more districts and charters are adopting off-list textbooks since the introduction of CCSS.

This spring, Pivot Learning and EdReports.org will host workshops to introduce districts to the California Curriculum Collaborative, including best practices in the adoption process and tools designed to support districts in making the right choices for their students. We hope to build informed collaboration across districts in California and bring clarity to the very important task of choosing an appropriate instructional program.

Curriculum can help drive or inhibit teaching and learning. With the right process that prioritizes high-quality, aligned materials and strong community engagement, districts and schools will be able to ensure that students have the materials they need to succeed.

References

Polikoff, M.S. (2015). How well aligned are textbooks to the Common Core standards in mathematics? American Educational Research Journal, 52(6), 1185–1211. doi:    10.3102/0002831215584435

Polikoff, M.S. (2016, December 9). Textbook adoption in California: Issues and evidence.                       [Presentation]. Retrieved from

http://edpolicyinca.org/events/textbook-adoption-california-issues-and-evidence

Weisskirk, L. (2016, October 21). Purchasing instructional materials: What you choose and how you choose matters. SouthEast Education Network (SEEN). Retrieved from             http://www.seenmagazine.us/Articles/Article-Detail/ArticleId/5932/Purchasing-     Instructional-Materials

PIVOT LEARNING AND EDREPORTS.ORG LAUNCH THE CALIFORNIA CURRICULUM COLLABORATIVE, A NEW RESOURCE FOR INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS ADOPTION

PIVOT LEARNING AND EDREPORTS.ORG LAUNCH THE CALIFORNIA CURRICULUM COLLABORATIVE, A NEW RESOURCE FOR INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS ADOPTION

 

Oakland, CA – Today, February 7th, 2017, Pivot Learning, an Oakland-based nonprofit supporting dozens of CA school districts to improve college and career readiness, launched the California Curriculum Collaborative in partnership with EdReports.org, a national nonprofit providing rigorous evidence-based reviews of K-12 instructional materials. Calcurriculum.org offers free independent analysis of K-12 Math and English Language Arts materials from national publishers as well as best practices for curriculum adoption.

California districts go through a time-consuming process of researching and adopting instructional materials in accordance with California standards. With the state having approved a large number of math and ELA curriculum products, districts, particularly small districts may be challenged to pick the ones that are best aligned with content standards. The California Curriculum Collaborative provides districts with crucial tools to support and potentially streamline their decision-making, including:

  • Reviews of many of the math and ELA programs adopted by the state of California
  • Reviews of curricular materials not yet adopted by the State of California, which districts can select by going “off-list”
  • Resources to support the process of curriculum adoption in school districts in California and beyond

Reviews on the CCC website has already proven to be valuable to educators across California.

“As a California high school math teacher of 15 years, I know the critical importance of having the right materials in teachers’ and students’ hands,” commented Carolyn Viss, a California high school math teacher of 15 years and current Director, Stanislaus County Office of Education. “…I see schools and districts grapple with the challenge of evaluating dozens of instructional materials to find high quality curricula. It is no small task. [These reviews] help to meet the growing demand from counties, districts, schools, and teachers for the thoughtful analysis contained in these reports.”

This spring, Pivot Learning and EdReports will host a series of regional workshops across the state where districts will be guided through the tools and process crucial to a high quality, rigorous curriculum adoption. These hands-on sessions will help districts in California strategize the most beneficial way to select instructional programs based on the individual needs of their districts. With the right process and tools, and strong community engagement, districts will be able to select instructional programs and materials that are high-quality and standards-aligned.

“California requires…materials that challenge our most proficient learners and ensure every student attains college, career, and civics readiness,” remarked Karin Foster, Language and Literacy Coordinator, Orange County Office of Education. She continued, “[The California Curriculum Collective’s] detailed reports allow teachers and district leaders to focus their attention on the needs of their students and find those materials that will help their students excel.”

To access the California Curriculum Collaborative, visit www.calcurriculum.org

PIVOT LEARNING’S SMARTER SCHOOL SPENDING APPROACH  IDENTIFIES  MILLIONS IN SAVINGS AND NEW REVENUE FOR FIVE CALIFORNIA DISTRICTS

PIVOT LEARNING’S SMARTER SCHOOL SPENDING APPROACH IDENTIFIES MILLIONS IN SAVINGS AND NEW REVENUE FOR FIVE CALIFORNIA DISTRICTS

Sacramento, CA – On Friday, January 27, 2017, Pivot Learning, an Oakland based non-profit, presented the first-year results of the California Smarter School Spending initiative at the annual Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) Research and Policy Conference. The Smarter School Spending model is an innovative approach to district budgeting that helps districts and charters to build strategic finance plans, find the money necessary to support their students and teachers and create more meaningful Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs).

Pivot CEO Arun Ramanathan, Ed.D. participated in a panel with district leaders Stefanie Phillips, Superintendent of Santa Ana Unified School District, and Myong Leigh, Interim Superintendent of San Francisco Unified School District, both of whom use the Smarter School Spending approach, to talk about the model and its benefits. Last year, Pivot partnered with five districts in California—Santa Ana Unified, San Francisco Unified, Tracy Unified, Pomona Unified, and Hayward Unified—on the Smarter School Spending initiative.

Using the Smarter School Spending process, Pivot and the districts identified almost $9M in potential cost savings to meet instructional goals. Tracy Unified alone located $2.1 of new revenue to potentially support their commitment to improving early literacy and ensuring 9th grade success, which are their key priorities to impact student achievement.

Brian Stephens, Ed.D., Superintendent of Tracy Unified, believes the Smarter School Spending process is vital to mobilizing districts to carry the work through from concept to program implementation. Dr. Stephens states, “Even if this work were to end tomorrow, the fundamental way we work together as a district has changed, and this collaboration will be felt for years to come.”

While California districts have received budget increases over the past several years, Governor Jerry Brown recently announcing a modest 2.2% budget increase for California public schools for the 2017-18 fiscal year. Given the slowing rate of revenue increases, increased costs for pensions and other obligations and impacts of declining enrollment, many school districts are facing budgetary challenges that complicate their efforts to the fund services and supports necessary to close opportunity and achievement gaps.

“The Smarter School Spending process helps districts turn around the impact of “initiative overload,” narrow their priorities and look inside their budgets for the funding necessary to support their instructional priorities,” said Dr. Ramanathan. “We believe that Smarter Spending should be a way that every district thinks about developing their budget and LCAP.”

Information about the PACE presentation can be found at http://www.edpolicyinca.org/events/future-education-california-policy

Slides from the presentation can be found at http://www.pivotlearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/PACE-Presentation_01252017_mp.pdf

More information about Pivot Learning can be found at www.pivotlearning.org

A Bright New Year with Pivot Learning

A Bright New Year with Pivot Learning

It’s a new year. Some things are certain. The children in our schools will get older. By March, I will have stopped writing 2016 on checks and letters. And Pivot Learning will continue to innovate as we work to achieve our mission of equitable access to college and career for all students.

It’s amazing what we accomplished last year. We worked with more than seventy school districts throughout the state, both large and small, and our first charter network. We developed a new logo, website, and look for our organization that reflects our future focus. We launched ground-breaking new initiatives, like our Beyond High School program to redesign high schools and the California Curriculum Collaborative website, to provide districts with information on the right curricula to implement the California State Standards. Our Smarter School Spending project and the Rural Professional Learning Network, among others, continued to have an impact. We secured our first federal subcontract in collaboration with the American Institutes of Research to support states in school improvement. Our reputation attracted amazing new talent into our organization from all over the state and the nation. Amidst this exciting work, it’s no wonder that we’re looking forward to 2017.

One more certainty is that there will be change for our nation, state, district/charter partners and for Pivot in 2017 and the years ahead. A new administration in Washington could pose significant challenges to the equity agenda and there will be a new education department with a focus on choice and vouchers. In California, the election for a new Governor and State Superintendent will kick off. Meanwhile, our current state leadership will have to develop a plan to implement the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Of course, we will all closely watch the economy and how that will affect funding for states and schools.

As always, Pivot will adapt and innovate while remaining true to our mission and vision. We believe that the work we do changes the lives for the most vulnerable students across the state. We look forward to continuing this work with partners, districts, and supporters to ensure that every student is ready for college and career.

Best Regards,

Arun