Barr Foundation Knowledge Center

This collection includes publications and resources from our partners and in our program areas, both current and legacy. These resources are completely free to access and download. Most of these works were funded by the Barr Foundation. We may occasionally feature items relevant to our program areas which were not funded by Barr. Please be aware that views expressed are not necessarily those of the Barr Foundation. We encourage you to search our collection and suggest potential content to include (use "Suggest an Addition"). For questions or assistance, please contact feedback@barrfoundation.org.
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A View from the Canopy: Building collective knowledge on school innovation

September 1, 2019

Databases and lists that offer information about innovative schools unintentionally contribute to the problem, as a lack of standard terminology and data structures forces them into siloes. As a result, knowledge of how schools are reimagining the learning experience for students remains deeply fragmented and woefully insufficient, creating real consequences—not only for funders, researchers, and school support organizations, but ultimately for the evolution and spread of promising practices.Recognizing this challenge, the Christensen Institute has worked with a range of partners to launch a project we're calling the Canopy: an effort to build better collective knowledge about the diverse range of schools offering learning experiences designed with students at the center. More than just another list, the Canopy reimagines both where information comes from as well as how it is structured to address some of the fractures in the current system. By casting a wide net through a crowdsourcing approach, Canopy surfaced 235 schools making strides towards student-centered learning—72% of which do not appear on other commonly referenced lists of innovative schools. Nominators and schools also used a consistent set of "tags" or common keywords to describe each school's model, meaning the dataset can be filtered, analyzed, and built out over time.This initial stage of the Canopy demonstrates how a process designed to advance collective knowledge has the potential to unveil a more diverse, complete picture of K-12 school innovation. We hope this leads to additional research efforts, and ultimately supports the development and scale of promising innovative approaches across the country.

Education - New Models

"In Theory It's a Good Idea": Understanding Implementation of Proficiency-based Education in Maine

October 1, 2018

Education Development Center (EDC) partnered with 10 districts in rural Maine that were in the process of implementing the state's requirement that students graduate with a proficiency-based diploma, to study students' exposure to student-centered, proficiency-based education and the relationship between exposure and student academic performance and engagement. Using Latent Profile Analysis, a statistical technique used to uncover hidden subgroups (i.e., latent profiles) based on the similarity with which a group of individuals responds to a set of survey questions, we found that three distinct proficiency-based education (PBE) exposure profiles existed, in similar proportions across all the participating schools and within every school. Analyses of district level administrative data showed that having an IEP was associated with higher exposure to PBE practices but that other student characteristics, including free and reduced-price lunch status and gender were not associated with more exposure to PBE practices. We also observed a positive relationship between exposure to PBE practices and increased levels of student engagement, and a negative association between exposure to PBE practices and SAT scores. Finally, qualitative analyses revealed that implementation to date has largely focused on identifying graduation standards and implementing new proficiency-based grading practices, with traditional classroom practices still fairly commonplace.

Education - New Models

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