New Designs for School
New Designs for School

We’ve all had the experience of truly purposeful, authentic learning and know how valuable it is. Educators are taking the best of what we know about learning, student support, effective instruction, and interpersonal skill-building to completely reimagine schools so that students experience that kind of purposeful learning all day, every day.

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One of the criteria NGLC uses in selecting potential launch (and to a somewhat lesser extent planning) grantees is scalability.

How will you scale?

One of the criteria NGLC uses in selecting potential launch (and to a somewhat lesser extent planning) grantees is scalability. NGLC’s interest in affirming this criterion is to see as many students benefit from next generation learning as possible; and, to accelerate the rate at which new breakthrough school models become available to students and families. We all know of great schools with lists of hundreds of students waiting to gain access to a quality learning opportunity. NGLC actively supports the density and diversity of available high quality next gen schools as a strategy for positively impacting the U.S. education landscape. Scale is a part of our over-arching approach.

That said, replicating a high-performing breakthrough model within or outside an existing network is only one way to achieve scale in the ways we think about it. NGLC also encourages efforts to share promising practices and any particularly strong aspect of your breakthrough school design. So, if you don’t intend to replicate your school model in its entirety (at least not right now), it’s important to think through and develop a strategy for scale that’s based on the strengths of your proposed model.

Here are some ideas to help planning and launch applicants think about the best fit and approach for them to articulate in their Wave IV, Cycle 2 applications.

Ask yourself, what is the aspect of innovative practice and design that I intend to share and how will I engage a broader network in what’s being learned? This is where knowing the strength of your model matters. Consider these examples:

  • You have a great set of problem-based learning resources cross-walked to the Common Core and have partnered to make them available in a user-friendly open source platform;
  • You have a set of competency-based assessments and an integrated system that you are willing to showcase and are actively inviting feedback;
  • You have a redesigned human resources model for developing teachers and leaders in which you provide specialized blended learning and leadership development for operating in a school with a next gen culture;
  • You have sample protocols and agreements for developing real-world internships with higher education, community, and career partners in which students develop a digital and mobile portfolio of competencies and you are offering it free as part of the materials included in one of the largest education conferences in your state;
  • Your school uses a playlist strategy to personalize learning through a combination of standardized metrics and customized strategies and assessments and you plan to teach how this works to participants of a MOOC that your higher education partner will co-lead.

Next, assess your model for its ties to existing networks. We define networks broadly. Examples range from nationally-branded school networks (e.g., KIPP, Rocketship, Touchstone) to affinity networks (e.g., Great City Schools, Digital Promise/League of Innovative Schools, CCSSO/Innovative Learning Network, statewide STEM or Early College networks, 2- and 4- year breakthrough college systems) to more locally-based ties (a traditional school that is part of a larger district, membership in a group of district-sponsored charters, or working with a regional or metropolitan-based incubator or hub). Depending on the type of school and context, partnering with a third-party disseminator such as a state-supported regional service provider, a university, or professional association may help you implement and shape your scaling strategy. Each of these examples can provide powerful outlets for sharing practice and influencing new school design.

These examples show the many ways to reach other educators, entrepreneurs, influencers, and authorities and thus many ways to share the vision of what breakthrough schools make possible to accelerate and enable adoption. Ultimately, we do this work with you. However, your assessment of your network reach and identification of the strengths of your model and partners helps us position you and your model for success.

Sarah Luchs headshot

Sarah Luchs

Program Officer, NGLC

Sarah Luchs coordinates NGLC's K-12 grant making strategies, investing in promising educators and the next gen learning designs that define Breakthrough Schools.