June 2021 Newsletter: All students can succeed, and we have the evidence

June 22nd, 2021

We are excited to announce a new resource for K-12 school administrators and teachers working to improve equity in education: The Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE)’s study: Characteristics of Positive Outlier Schools: Illuminating the Strengths of American Indian/Alaska Native, Black, Latino/a, and Students Experiencing Poverty. This study offers a systems analysis that identifies highly effective approaches that positively influence outcomes for Black, Latino, Native American, and students experiencing poverty within 38 Washington schools representing a wide range of geography, school level and community size.

This analysis of 2,400 schools showed that certain schools emerged as “positive outliers” – schools seeing particularly positive performance and improvement trends for Black, Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students and students experiencing poverty across a range of dimensions, including: student attendance, progress in English-language arts and math, progress among English learners, high school readiness, high school course rigor, and graduation rates. These results allowed researchers to dig more deeply into the characteristics and cultures of these schools to identify systems and practices that contributed to their success. Further analysis showed consistent themes, such as administrators focusing on multi-tiered support for educators and students; a culture of lifelong learning among staff; an equity-focused mindset among educators who are willing to take risks to more deeply engage their students; intentional focus on student empowerment, where they can see themselves as agents of change.

One of the biggest surprises from the study was that almost half of the outlier schools had previously been in the bottom 5% of Washington state schools, demonstrating the power of equitable practices to illuminate students’ strengths and realize gains no matter where schools find themselves at the start.

More public offerings to come out of this research will soon be available through the Center for Educational Effectiveness’s website, which includes podcasts of leaders from some of the 38 outlier schools highlighting best practices in creating the conditions to accelerate the existing strengths of Black, Latino/a, American Indian/Alaska Native and students experiencing poverty, as well as short videos of the takeaways these leaders implemented.

We know that schools are at the heart of advancing educational equity for each student. It is a moral imperative that each student is able to learn in an environment that provides support, builds agency, and expands opportunity. This new study enriches our understanding of how to fulfill that promise in more schools across the state. As one student said in describing their positive outlier school, “They just want every kid to succeed.”

You can access the full CEE study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation here.

Here’s what else we’re sharing in this month’s Newsletter:

Thank you for your partnership,

Your Gates Washington State team

Follow us on Twitter: @GatesWA.

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