What prepared some schools and districts to pivot effectively when COVID struck? What were the capacities, conditions, and pedagogical hallmarks that enabled them to adapt? NGLC and partners are going to find out in this project funded by the Leon Lowenstein Foundation.

The public narrative about public schools and COVID does not often reflect the hard work and extraordinary flexibility demonstrated by so many schools and districts during these times. Districts and schools that seized the moment and moved to even more project-based learning. Districts that doubled-down to emphasize the competencies and outcomes stated in their graduate profiles in their virtual instruction. Schools that "didn't skip a beat" with their learning and support when buildings closed.

The Project

Answering a Critical Question through Qualitative Research: The pandemic has challenged all schools and districts to exhibit many of the attributes that define the missions (and visions for student success) of next gen learning schools and districts: resilience, adaptability, complex problem-solving, collaboration, creativity, effective communication.

Using a survey and interviews, the project seeks to answer these questions:

  • Among those schools/districts that genuinely reflect these attributes in their learning models and in their professional cultures and operating habits, have they been better able to respond to COVID-19 challenges?
  • If so, what were the most important capacities, conditions, and cultural or pedagogical hallmarks that enabled them to adapt so well?
  • What does that look like in practice—and how can the many thousands of other schools and districts in the U.S. benefit from what they have learned?

Whatever it was that enabled some districts and schools to rise and meet the pandemic with resilience and adaptive creativity: that’s what every student in the U.S. needs to be experiencing every day.

The Partners

With funding from the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) is joined in undertaking this project by eight partners.

We all share a premise: that schools/districts that had fully committed to deeper, student-centered, personalized, next gen learning before the pandemic should have been able to pivot more capably to high-quality, equitable online/hybrid learning during COVID. Their learning models and their professional structures and cultures are designed to value adaptive problem-solving, agency, resilience, and self-direction. This project will answer if those attributes did help schools and districts to respond effectively.

Prepared Research Project Partners

The project runs from January through December 2021. For more information, contact Andy Calkins.

Learn More

The Question Everyone in Public Education Should Be Asking Right Now - In this article, NGLC's Andy Calkins provides the compelling reasons why this project is so important and introduces other efforts by the project's partners to "Do Things Differently."