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Quarterly Update
Winter 2014

Dear TLA friends,

 

As we start 2014 we pause and take a look back at how far we have come in just 18 months, and all we have accomplished together. In July of 2012 TLA was just an idea with a start-up CEO and two hard-charging board members with a vision. Now we have a group of seven outstanding, passionate team members and a board of four working hard to make this vision a reality.  

 

The key elements of our strategy are in place. So, fasten your seat belts - in 2014 things are really going to accelerate! We are so grateful for the support we have received from funders, colleagues, and other organizations that have made this possible.

 

Educators, policy makers, philanthropists, and parents are increasingly aware of the promise of blended learning and are inspired to make it happen. We have had a great start and are now ready to push forward even faster to enable a nation-wide educational transformation that focuses on high-quality, personalized learning and mastery-based progression. Thank you for coming on this journey with us, we look forward to working with you in the year ahead.

 

With appreciation,

 

Scott Ellis               Joe Wolf

CEO                       President                           

 

 

Recent Activities
EHS logo

EducationSuperHighway Funding

The Learning Accelerator's first grantee, EducationSuperHighway (ESH), recently announced a $9 million investment from Mark Zuckerberg's Startup:Education and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, in support of the national effort to upgrade internet access in America's public schools. The new stream of funding will bolster ESH's ability to conduct SchoolSpeedTests across the country and increase its efforts to restructure the E-rate program. This is a powerful example of TLA helping to align and accelerate the important work that is being done by organizations like ESH across the ecosystem.  Learn more.


New School District Implementation Partnerships

In August of 2013, we announced our first school district partnership with Reynoldsburg City Schools in Ohio. Recognizing that no single school model is a perfect fit for every student, TLA's work with RCS focuses on strategy, design and implementation of a portfolio of autonomous blended learning models in tandem with next-gen systems reform. Our team is currently focused in the areas of infrastructure, purchasing, human capital systems, and communications.  

 

Last month we launched two new partnerships with school districts that are ready to implement blended learning at scale in their schools. Our work with Partnership for LA Schools will serve 15,000 students across 17 campuses in Watts, Boyle Heights and South LA. The Partnership schools are part of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

 

Greeley-Evans School District in Colorado is our third district partnership and serves more than 20,000 students across 25 district-managed schools, plus five charter schools and one online academy. Our partnerships with this diverse group of districts will enable us to create national showcases to demonstrate how to successfully implement blended learning at scale.

                            

 

State Strategy 

TLA continues its work with states to strengthen their capacity to catalyze and accelerate blended learning. In the months ahead, TLA will support the development of customized roadmaps that identify the resources required to facilitate the shift to blended, so that a state's schools, districts, and other players are clear about the human, technical and financial resources needed to fuel systemic blended learning implementation. We expect to be well on the way to create "blended learning proof point states" by the end of the year.

  

Emerging Focus Areas

  

Through our work over the past year, we have gained a deeper understanding of the opportunities and barriers to blended learning. We are exploring three new areas of interest that will likely emerge as additional focus areas for TLA.

  

Open Education Resources/Software

The Learning Accelerator is engaged in discussions around the role of Open Educational Resources as a source of instructional content in blended learning classrooms. Are there opportunities to create low-cost, Common Core-aligned comprehensive curricula for school districts? It is exciting to think about TLA's role in helping galvanize and streamline efforts to create better and more affordable materials for America's 50 million public school students.

 

Mastery-Based Transcripts

The Learning Accelerator focuses on mastery-based progression as a core element of blended learning. We were intrigued by the work of the New England Secondary Schools Consortium in securing the endorsement of mastery-based high school transcripts from more than 45 higher education institutions. We are exploring how TLA might work with other institutions of higher education to spread this type of endorsement nationally. We believe that by creating demand for mastery-based progression and transcripts from higher education, we can accelerate the implementation of this core piece of high-quality blended learning.

 

District Communications 

Describing the power and promise of blended learning is one thing, but effectively communicating with key stakeholders throughout the sometimes messy and confusing process of innovation is a distinct challenge facing school districts that are shifting to blended learning. TLA is collecting examples of great communications practices and assembling a communications tool kit for districts to use throughout the implementation process.

What's Next?

 

The Learning Accelerator will continue to actively share what we are learning on the ground in our partnerships, as many schools districts across the country are eager to move towards blended learning even before our roadmaps are complete.  

 

The nature of innovation means not only dreaming big, but also learning quickly from our successes (and mistakes) and adapting. One of our main goals is to help the entire sector learn together so we all move forward faster, to make high-quality blended learning a reality for all.

Again, thank you for your support!
Contact:
Scott Ellis, CEO
iinfo@learningaccelerator.org
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