Can teaching and learning practices that foster deeper learning among all students-not just the most advantaged-be successfully replicated across large numbers of schools? The answer is an unqualified “yes,” according to the Learning Policy Institute’s recently released study, Deeper Learning Networks: Taking Student-Centered Learning and Equity to Scale. The study examines how three school networks, serving mostly students of color from low-income families, have successfully taken student-centered learning and equity to scale.
The study finds that the three networks share common systems that have helped them successfully instantiate their deeper learning school models in new settings. All three networks:
- Design schools and secure the necessary structures that allow deeper learning to flourish in network-affiliated schools in local districts.
- Collaborate with local stakeholders to establish and sustain their deeper learning models, thus building collective investment in the model and enhancing school capacity.
- Build and maintain multifaceted systems of professional learning that ensure that educators are continuously supported in enacting deeper learning.
- Invest in leadership development to support site leaders in designing and sustaining schools for deeper learning.
- Function as learning organizations that continually improve their design to ensure quality and equity.
Using these systems and structures, the networks have spread and replicated their models in ways sensitive to local contexts, which allows them to grow and sustain their organizations in partnership with local communities. Among the insights about why they have succeeded are the following takeaways:
- School design and pedagogy are intimately linked.
- Every member of the school community must learn deeply about the new approaches and why they matter to make decisions and contributions that sustain these approaches.
- Developing the sophisticated pedagogies needed to teach for deeper learning with equity requires new approaches to professional learning.
- School leaders must have significant knowledge of learning and successful experience in the new model to be able to redesign the school and help enable the innovative practices it requires.