The Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance) is a Washington, DC-based national policy and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those who are traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship. During 2015, the Alliance created a separate project under its umbrella called Future Ready Schools (FRS) to help school districts develop comprehensive plans to achieve successful student learning outcomes by (1) transforming instructional pedagogy and practice while (2) simultaneously leveraging technology to personalize learning in the classroom.
The Alliance, partnering with the U.S. Department of Education and supported by the LEAD Commission, hosted 13 regional summits across the country between January 2015 and August 2015. The summits were incredibly popular, serving 463 districts and more than 2,200 education leaders representing over 4 million students. The summits weren’t about technology; instead they pushed leaders to examine their own leadership, the culture within their schools, and the vision for student learning to ensure that all students reach their potential for success in the competitive global workforce they will face upon graduation.
As the initial wave of FRS summits concluded, the demand for more summits and additional Future Ready activities was evident to address the real and immediate needs of district leaders with ongoing, consistent, job-embedded support as they undertake this challenging digital transition.
The Future Ready Framework
At the heart of Future Ready is the Future Ready Framework, a robust structure for digital learning planning and implementation. The Future Ready Framework emphasizes empowered and innovative leadership and focuses on eight key categories (called gears), addressed during the comprehensive planning process, while keeping student learning at the center of all decision-making.
The Interactive Planning Dashboard
This free online tool is designed to help district leadership teams plan systemically to use technology effectively to engage students, empower teachers, and improve learning outcomes. Through the dashboard, district leaders assess their district's needs, identify gaps, obtain strategies, plan, and track their progress over time.
Implementing meaningful digital learning requires more than just purchasing devices for a school district. It requires thoughtful planning, preparation, and analysis of student outcomes, teacher development, culture, and leadership. That’s where the Future Ready Interactive Planning Dashboard can help. The dashboard takes school district leaders through each step of a systemic planning process to create a comprehensive approach and action plan for implementing digital learning before they make the next purchase, ensuring a much smoother implementation. Dashboard information can be downloaded here.
The Roadmap: A 5 Step Process
The Interactive Planning Dashboard outlines a 5 Step Process - an implementation roadmap - that should take districts between 4-8 weeks to complete. The process begins with a district leadership team self-assessment. After reviewing the results of the district leadership self-assessment, the leadership team is able to solicit stakeholder feedback on eight gear-level assessments. Leadership teams are then able to review the gap analysis and customized strategies to begin action planning.
The online planning template and comprehensive set of resources and research-based strategies help district teams set goals, close the assessed gaps, and ask critical questions. Upon completion, the team will have created a fully customized digital learning transition plan developed by the district team through the collaborative activities embedded in the dashboard.
Future Ready Leadership Network: The Hub
The Future Ready Hub is a “one-stop shop” for all FRS materials, tools, and activities and is a powerful online resource for district leaders. The Future Ready Hub offers school district leaders a variety of ways to share their own expertise and tap into the collective expertise of a broader community of education leaders. District leaders will have opportunities to showcase their successes, connect with mentors from districts within their states, and collaborate with leaders in their regions. Elements include:
Future Ready Schools Leadership Summits
FRS will continue to partner with the US Department of Education to offer face-to-face regional summits focused on district-level planning as a bedrock component of its work. The regional summits allow district teams to jump start their planning efforts and vision for student learning under the leadership of experienced FRS facilitators. The summits also allow regional experts to form ongoing professional bonds and surface new experts, exemplars, and success stories to highlight nationally.
The first wave of summits took place in 2015 and enjoyed active participation from district teams, which represented 4.9 million students, and reflected the national student demographics with 17.1 percent of teams representing urban districts, 43.3 percent representing suburban districts, and 39.6 percent representing rural districts. In 59 percent of the districts, students from low-income families comprise 40 percent or more of the student population. In 41 percent of the districts, students of color comprise 40 percent or more of the student population.
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Our Team: Need Help?
Not sure how to get started, or where to go next? Make sure to reference the 5 Step Process that was developed to help Future Ready Leadership Teams work together to create a customized Future Ready Action Plan. Questions or feeling stuck? Contact Tom Murray for Sara Hall for help!