Personalized Learning School Design & Replication

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Network & District Strategic Planning

Raising Blended Learners Initiative »

Client: Raise Your Hand Texas

“Working with Cat Alexander and the entire CA Group has exceeded Raise Your Hand Texas’s expectations. Cat and her team’s national expertise in blended learning design and implementation has been instrumental in the development of our Raising Blended Learners initiative. What we appreciate most about working with the CA Group is the enthusiasm, creativity, and depth of knowledge they collectively bring to our project.” -Dr. David Anthony, CEO, Raise Your Hand Texas

“The experts that were chosen to work with us blew my socks off. They really pushed us, really pushed us to think deeper. I’ve been doing this a long time, but they gave me a lot of new ideas.” -RYHT initiative school district participant

“The CA Group always made us feel comfortable. They had a professional, laid-back attitude that just helped us feel comfortable.” -RYHT initiative school district participant

The Challenge

Raise Your Hand Texas aims to increase the impact of blended learning in Texas schools through the Raising Blended Learners initiative, a “blended learning demonstration initiative” showcasing blended learning strategies that lead to increases in student achievement. To facilitate the development of showcase strategies, Raise Your Hand Texas intends to award approximately five charter school networks or districts “intensive technical assistance” and up to $500,000 over three years to implement proposed blended learning plans. This ambitious initiative will require extensive knowledge of blended learning, a strategic approach, and substantial investments of time and energy to coordinate effectively.

Our Solution

CA Group was contracted to serve as the director of the initiative throughout the selection and implementation phases, providing critical planning support. While the project is still in the early stages, CA Group looks forward to partnering with Raise Your Hand Texas in establishing a first-in-class blended learning showcase in Texas. In addition to providing project management support, CA Group will do the following:

Design & Marketing. CA Group will support in reviewing Phase I applications, and selecting and notifying Phase I winners. Additionally, CA Group will build a knowledge base of relevant blended learning practices in Texas, aggregate a list of content area experts and partner organizations, and analyze current Texas blended learning policies.

Training Workshops. In partnership with Heather Staker, CEO of Ready to Blend, CA Group will conduct training workshops for Phase I finalists focused on developing plans to use blended learning to address student learning needs.

Plan Evaluation and Feedback. CA Group will provide general communication and support to teams as they develop their applications, as well as develop and execute the judging and selection process in conjunction with a panel of local and national judges.

Pre-Implementation & Implementation. As the finalists work to implement their blended learning plans, CA group will conduct bi-weekly conference calls and monthly site visits to finalists, while also conducting webinars and training sessions as necessary to adequately support implementation. CA Group will also coordinate a network of nationally renowned blended learning technical assistance providers who will provide winners with 1:1 support on critical topics like school design, teacher and leader development, change management, curriculum and content selection, policy, advocacy, communications, and financial management.

Outcomes

In the spring of 2015, the Raising Blended Learners Initiative was designed and made available to all districts and charter schools across the state of Texas. The top 80 finalists will be selected and invited to a two-day fall workshop led by Heather Staker of Ready to Blend, supported by CA Group. In Winter 2015, the top five finalists will be selected by a panel of national judges and awarded up to $500,000 to implement their blended learning plans over the next three years. In Spring 2016, the finalists will design their pilots and prepare to implement their blended learning plans in Fall 2016. CA Group will provide implementation support to the five finalists over the 2016-17 school year. For more information, click here.

Collaborators

Heather Staker, Ready to Blend

CA Group Team Members

  • Cat Alexander
  • Bebe Ryan
  • Becca Bunn
  • Kristen Buri
  • Pamela Barrier

Next Generation Systems Initiative Phase I Design »

Client: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Challenge

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is committed to the goal of creating a future in which at least 80 percent of students complete their K-12 education prepared to succeed in college. To accomplish this dramatic increase, the Gates Foundation established the Next Generation Systems Initiative, aimed at supporting a cohort of school districts in designing, launching, and replicating personalized learning schools. With this ambitious vision, the Gates Foundation required support in a wide variety of areas, from expertise in K-12 education and personalized learning to efficient, effective project management and content development.

Our Solution

The Gates Foundation contracted CA Group to provide project management, content development, and knowledge management for Next Generation System design teams and technical assistance consultants. CA Group served as a project manager for Phase I of the initiative, supporting school districts through the implementation of the personalized learning system-level strategic plans and in designing or redesigning schools around personalized learning models.

For the initial phase of work, CA Group supported the Gates Foundation in the following ways:

  • Facilitated logistics for the grant and convening events, coordinated internal communication, drafted documents, and conducted internal grant processing; provided key project management support including grants administration, Q&A response, and grant analysis for the initial phase of the work;

  • Served as lead reviewer on system-level strategic plans, coordinated reviewer calls, coordinated due diligence follow-ups and evidence collection, conducted due diligence visits, and managed the review process and timeline;

  • Supported the development of convening and site visit schedules and the pilot application process; conducted check-ins and site visits with district systems teams, assisted with the selection process, and coordinated technical assistance and other content providers.

Outcomes

Next Generation System Initiative Cohort Winners include the following districts:

  • Dallas Independent School District, TX

  • Henry County Schools, GA

  • Lake County Schools, FL

  • Pinellas County Schools, FL

  • Riverside Unified School District, CA

Partners

  • Blueprint Education Consulting

CA Group Team Members

  • Cat Alexander