In pursuing our mission, we collaborate with a variety of partners committed to educational improvement – school districts, community groups, researchers, national and local school reform organizations, policy-makers, and funders. Our efforts are concentrated in four areas, or circles of work, related to supporting the development of smart education systems, and in the pursuit of our three lines of inquiry: college readiness, extended learning and school transformation.
DISTRICT REDESIGN AND LEADERSHIP
The Institute helps build the capacity of districts and their formal partners to move toward becoming smart education systems by developing and sharing knowledge, tools, and products and providing technical assistance. Anchored by the Central Office Review for Results and Equity (CORRE), the Institute develops resources to strengthen the essential capacities that school districts need to achieve results and equity at scale.
COMMUNITY ORGANIZING AND ENGAGEMENT
The Institute works with both local and national partners to develop innovative community engagement strategies and build communities’ capacity to advocate for and support education reform. Through these partnerships, the Institute helps to engage the full range of community stakeholders – from parents and young people to municipal officials and civic organizations – in making critical decisions about their community’s schools.
RESEARCH AND POLICY
Institute staff conducts knowledge-generating research (both long-term studies and shorter-term data and issue analyses) to develop the concept of smart education systems as well as to support the work of local reform efforts and inform the national dialogue on education reform. Institute staff also research and develop practical products designed to help school districts and communities build their capacity to become smart education systems.
Learning Opportunities and Communications
The Institute produces and disseminates a wide range of print and Web materials emanating from its work. Each issue of our quarterly journal, Voices in Urban Education, features articles on a single topic by Institute staff and experienced scholars and practitioners in the field. Many of the Institute-generated products are published in-house. Staff also prepare materials for publication and dissemination by outside publishers; articles have appeared in the major education newspapers and magazines. City Schools, a book describing characteristics of a smart education system that was developed and many of the chapters written by Institute staff members, was published by Harvard Education Press in 2007. The book Urban Schools Public Will, authored by Principal Associate Norm Fruchter, the former Director of the Institute’s Community Involvement Program, was also published in 2007. Fruchter also collaborated with a number of authors on the book Democratic School Accountability: A Model for School Improvement.
To promote dialogue about education reform, the Institute convenes occasional forums and conferences that provide leading-edge practitioners, policy-makers, and community leaders the opportunity for new learning, reflection, and knowledge building. Recent and current convenings include the Emerging Knowledge Forum, a three-day gathering of education reformers from around the country to learn about and discuss cutting-edge practices; cross-stakeholder forums for Governor Carcieri’s Rhode Island Urban Education Task force; and cross-site meetings for grantees of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s College Readiness Indicator Systems initiative.
In collaboration with Brown University’s Education Department, the Institute helped to develop a one-year master’s program in Urban Education Policy. Institute staff teaches two summer courses in the program, which accepted its first cohort of students in June 2006.