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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Primary Contact Name:

Award Date:
June 2012
Grant Type:
National Launch
Start Date:
Fall 2012
Startup Type:
Not operating

This breakthrough model is no longer operating.

In EAA’s student-centered classrooms, students assume responsibility for their learning and participate in planning, goal setting, and producing evidence of what they know and can do based on projects and performance tasks. At Nolan, a climate and culture is being established that fosters student ownership of learning as students become active participants in both thinking and doing in partnership with their teachers.

At the center of the design is Brain Honey, a dynamic learning platform that hosts a robust repository of resources, curriculum mapping tools, and assessment tools, as well as a social platform that allows for collaboration and peer-to-peer support. Learning objects are provided in “bite-sized chunks” and a dashboard provides teachers, parents, and students with prescriptive, real-time analytics. Most importantly, the platform emphasizes not just cognitive skill acquisition but also collaboration and communication — between students and teachers, students and parents, teachers and parents, and students and their peers.

Students spend much of their time working independently and in small groups, conferencing with teachers to monitor progress and for interventions as needed. Rather than pushing students through the system of education, the model gives students a voice every step of the way. Students map their learning paths, make choices and decisions around progression and pacing, conduct self-assessments, and learn to understand the consequences of their decisions. The daily self-assessments track students’ perceptions of their expertise, engagement, and effort. System reports capture students’ choice of content, length of use of that content, and preference ratings, which are correlated to student outcomes so that teachers can assess content effectiveness. At the end of each unit, a final objective assessment serves as a gatekeeper to complement student evidence of mastery through performance tasks.

Teacher roles also shift under this model. After a rigorous hiring process, teachers undergo personalized, on-demand, and job-embedded professional development in both pedagogy and content to prepare for work in a blended environment. Rather than building one-size-fits-all lesson plans, teachers use reports and real-time feedback generated by the learning platform to plan their interactions with students and provide intervention where needed. Real-time analytics help document best practices and assist teachers in providing appropriate support to students as well as in building their own capacity.

Student-centered learning

Turnaround is notoriously difficult. EAA and Nolan’s leadership provide a universal system of support to address the challenges of transforming school culture and overcoming ineffective practices and structures. Wrap-around supports are provided in several key areas — developing a climate and culture that shifts from the system to the student, ensuring highly effective teachers, engaging parents and the community, providing social and human service supports to students and families, and providing anytime, anywhere learning opportunities. EAA’s goal is that these activities — coupled with an extended 210-day school year — will help magnify the interdependence of the learning community and the links between a student’s individual success and the success of the learning community as a whole.

EAA Next Generation High School Planning and Launch Grants: EAA also was awarded grants from NGLC to develop and launch a breakthrough model at the high school level, with a Fall 2014 start date.

Application deck