Modeling Success and Inspiring Quality Schools

Two High Schools Selected to Be Part of KnowledgeWorks’ Study that will Reveal Best Practices for Advancing Equity

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Topics: Education Equity, Impact and Improvement

CINCINNATI (February 9, 2022) — Nonprofit leader KnowledgeWorks announced it will partner with public high schools in Arizona and Massachusetts to explore how certain schools are able to exceed the field in achieving successful outcomes for students from resilient and historically marginalized groups. This effort is part of KnowledgeWorks’ Robust and Equitable Measures to Inspire Quality Schools (REMIQS) project.

The REMIQS (pronounced “re-mix”) project will uncover and make public the school features, practices, policies and procedures that promote higher rates of success in high school and in post-secondary education among students who have been traditionally underserved.

“We found schools that outperform expectations by creating opportunities for all students to achieve success in school and beyond,” said Eric Toshalis, EdD, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, KnowledgeWorks. “We want to find out how those sites accomplish this so we can inform and inspire more schools, more educators and more leaders to adopt the approaches most likely to yield success and eliminate our education debt.” 

With significant input from project Advisors, members of its national Stakeholder Committee— including parents, employers, college/university officials and state- and local-level policymakers—and project funders, the REMIQS team used an innovative, statistical model to identify “bright spot” schools. Researchers from KnowledgeWorks and WestEd began by analyzing state and federal data sources to locate those schools that consistently produced better-than-predicted high school and post-secondary outcomes for students from resilient and marginalized backgrounds. The statistical model, piloted by the Urban Institute and refined and updated by WestEd, prioritized the extent to which marginalized students experience in-school and post-secondary achievement levels greater than their anticipated rates. Recognizing that test scores only tell a small part of the story, the research model takes into account and prioritizes the rates at which students study advanced coursework, graduate from high school and go on to attend, persist in and complete college. It also takes into account attendance and discipline rates, along with standardized test scores.     

Thus far, two REMIQS sites have been identified and have agreed to participate in the study: San Luis High School in Yuma Union High School District, Arizona, and Springfield International Charter School, in Springfield, Massachusetts. Research teams will partner with these schools to investigate how they were able to outperform other schools and make necessary changes during the pandemic. REMIQS project leaders are also engaging additional “bright spot” schools in Kentucky, Virginia and Texas and expect to announce those schools in the coming months.

“Yuma Union High School District has the express mission of EVERY student being college, career and community prepared upon graduation. This requires intentional and strategic work of staff and relationships with the families of our students,” said Gina Thompson, Superintendent, Yuma Union High School District. “I am incredibly proud of the on-going work at San Luis High School in providing equity of opportunity in our educational system. This does not happen by accident! Our district and community collaborations continue to demonstrate actions and outcomes and the measurement of core values and belief in our students.” 

“This joint effort will identify and highlight the best instructional practices to provide educational equity to all students, particularly those who have been previously underserved,” said Brendan Dwyer, Principal, Springfield International Charter School (SICS). “We are confident that this venture will lead to dissemination of best practices which will benefit similar communities, educators and students throughout the nation.” 

Data collection activities will begin remotely this spring, and research teams will visit and study each site in-person next fall and winter. Using a host of data sources that may include student surveys, observations, school climate data and interviews, researchers will bring to light the approaches, policies and school features that promote more equitable outcomes.  

The voices and perspectives of students, especially those from resilient and marginalized groups, will take priority in this work. Youth assessments of what works in their school—and for whom—will drive REMIQS researchers’ conclusions about which are the best practices worth sharing and scaling. Through observations, interviews, participatory action research projects and inclusion in local informant groups, the REMIQS research team will review and refine the research findings with students and other local stakeholders, and get their recommendations on the best way to communicate the information to various audiences.

REMIQS researchers will also work with the Stakeholder Committee and Advisors to help interpret data and determine the best channels, platforms and messages to accelerate the adoption of best practices elsewhere. The research team is committed to sharing research findings in ways that will be meaningful and actionable for policymakers, school and system leaders, and for impacted families. 

About REMIQS

REMIQS is a KnowledgeWorks project. Funding for this project has been provided by the Barr Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and Oak Foundation.

About KnowledgeWorks

KnowledgeWorks is a national nonprofit organization advancing a future of learning that ensures each student graduates ready for what’s next. For 20 years, we’ve been partnering with states, communities and leaders across the country to imagine, build and sustain vibrant learning communities. Through evidence-based practices and a commitment to equitable outcomes, we’re creating the future of learning, together.  www.knowledgeworks.org