As we previously reported in our spring 2015 newsletter, in the initial phases of what is planned as a multi-year project led by QED, we will be visiting schools throughout the country with a view towards documenting practices that will help create a template for research-based educational change. This project is funded by the Bay & Paul Foundations. The participants under this grant, in addition to QED and your blogger, are representatives of organizations actively engaged in school reform, including the School Reform Initiative, which “creates transformational learning communities fiercely committed to educational equity and excellence.”
What we observed at MC2 was a learning environment different from any other I had seen. While descriptions cannot capture the energy and creativity of this special school community, some of the most notable aspects of the school include:
- MC2 works to eliminate the predictive value of race, class, language, gender, and special capacities on student achievement. They use a strength based model, leveraging areas of strength to overcome challenges.
- MC2 is governed on a model based on the three branches of the federal government. Here, the stakeholders are parents, student, and staff, and all of these community members have a voice in all aspects of the school, from dress code, to policies, to the physical plant of the school.
- Students aren’t graded. Instead, they progress through different phases of development – areas such as community, collaboration, critical thinking, and leadership -- to determine their readiness to move towards graduation.
- The goals for each student are formulated by Learning Teams, made up students, their parents, and their academic advisors. Students update their Learning Team on their progress through daily written reflections and at quarterly Exhibitions.
Our group will be continuing our visits throughout the country to schools that represent transformational learning communities. By seeing such schools in action, we can get a better sense of what makes them "tick" and how to spread this approach to learning to schools throughout the country.