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Dear colleagues and friends: 

On Tuesday, May 24, I was wrapping up preparation for testimony I had planned to give the next day to the Texas Commission on Virtual Education on virtual and hybrid learning. Like so many of you, my thoughts pivoted as the tragedy of the Uvalde mass shooting unfolded, my heart reeling from the preventable deaths of 19 children and two teachers at the hands of a gunman in the Lone Star State. 

The violence and horrors those children, teachers, and the broader community suffered brought me back to Newtown a decade earlier. As part of a team that was opening a new, innovative school in Newark, New Jersey, I had been working to literally take down walls between classrooms, having students work dynamically in groups throughout the building with teams of educators. As news from Connecticut reached us, I felt overwhelming sadness and despair. I also felt fear as I realized our removal of physical and human barriers to learning, crucial for making our vision for learning come to life, was at direct odds with the policy and behavioral “solutions” – stronger doors, preparation for hiding, the arming of educators – being proposed as the response.  

Our country continues to urgently grapple with concerns over gun violence against the backdrop of an epidemic of hate surging in our communities. As today’s debate over the response to this tragedy rages, I want to emphasize that until all children are safe in their learning environments, nothing else that we do in education matters. As we pursue this safety, we cannot push forward solutions that place more of the burden of response and protection at the feet of teachers and learners, nor should we embrace answers that put further constraints on the resources, places, and means for expanding access to powerful learning, anywhere. We have a responsibility to our children and future generations – we must act on it by demanding action that gets at the root cause, the guns themselves. Join us and get involved in efforts to make schools safe: 

As we undertake this critical task of advocacy, our collective work to build equitable, inspiring education systems that support every learner must continue. Thank you for your partnership in this endeavor. In this newsletter, we share brighter news of several new team members, ask you to help us in a project to understand and expand access to creative learning experiences, highlight continued guidance on addressing unfinished learning, and shine a spotlight on another terrific TLA partner, All Star Code. 

Together, we’ll continue to grow our impact and ensure that every kid receives the education they deserve. 

With thanks,

Beth Rabbitt, CEO

Featured Updates

TLA Welcomes New Staff Members

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Ryan Mick joins TLA in the newly created role of Chief Program Officer, tasked with managing the execution, improvement, and development of our core programs while orchestrating a compelling vision for our next phase of programmatic impact. Ryan comes to TLA from City Year, where as Senior Vice President of Program Design, he drove their efforts to innovate, design, codify, and disseminate strategic partnerships. As a first-generation college student from a rural farming community, Ryan has dedicated his career to increasing access to equitable education for all. He graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor's degree in history and economics and a master’s degree in educational research. He also holds a law degree from George Washington University. Ryan has worked in the fields of child policy, civic education, and legal advocacy.


Larayne Maycole, Executive Assistant to the CEO, arrives at TLA with over 20 years of experience supporting C-suite leadership in both Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff capacities. In her role, she serves as the right hand to the CEO and manages executive integration across the various levels, teams, and work streams of the organization. Larayne graduated from Stratford University with a bachelor's degree in business administration.


Lacey Gonzales joins TLA as Communications Coordinator, where she brings her background in journalism and media relations to bolster TLA’s communications and external relations work. Lacey works across the TLA team to support information and content dissemination as well as fuel the organization's social media presence. Lacey graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She is excited to bring her commitment to all students receiving an equitable education to TLA.

Request for Support: TLA Creativity Project Teacher Survey

TLA’s Research and Measurement team has launched an exciting new project in partnership with Adobe and BetterLesson. The purpose of the study is to measure the effect of providing districts with access to creative tools – for both teachers and students – as well as high-quality professional learning designed to develop educator skills, capacities, and mindsets about design learning experiences that foster student creativity skills. As the research team for this project, we will be designing a series of measurement instruments that will ultimately be openly available for the field. For this first project, we need your help!

The project’s initial phase is to design and validate a survey that measures teachers' knowledge, perceptions, and practices around creativity. To run the appropriate statistical tests, we need a minimum of 250 classroom teachers of students in grades 6-10 to complete the survey by June 17 to assess its reliability and validity. In addition, the team will conduct a descriptive analysis to see what trends may emerge from the data as well as cognitive interviews with volunteers. 

The survey should take approximately 15 minutes. Classroom teachers who complete the survey can also enter a raffle to win a $50 gift card. All responses are anonymous, and the data will be kept confidential. Please share this online survey with as many teachers as possible. All findings and the final survey instrument will be made publicly available, so stay tuned for more this summer.

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Problems of Practice: Unfinished Learning

Our team is hyper-focused on ensuring our continued pandemic response honors the unique experience of every learner. How might we better understand, at the level of the individual, where students are? What progress have they made, and what work do we still need to do together? By taking an asset-based approach to learning, emphasizing a student’s strengths rather than perceived weaknesses, our newest Problem of Practice series is tackling these challenges – Unfinished Learning: Measuring and Supporting Student Progress. This four-part tool is designed to help education teams think about measuring learning through disruption, make sense of the data that emerges, and begin setting up the right practices and conditions to address what we uncover. 

After discussing their findings on unfinished learning with educators, our team members shared that a focus on ‘unfinished learning’ rather than ‘learning loss’ was needed in the field, noting a lack of attention to the issue. At TLA, we are focused on what is possible for the learner. Let’s start placing the onus for improvement on the system itself rather than focusing on what students have lost or the gaps present in their learning. This work demands us to move beyond assumptions and forces us to use our resources in the best ways for the learners who need them most. Interested in taking this work on unfinished learning even further? Dr. Violet Ford, Associate Partner, Research and Measurement at TLA, created a useful resource for school systems leaders to investigate and analyze student progress and unfinished learning through a five-step process, detailed in our guide to measuring unfinished learning.

Partner Highlight


All Star Code is a nonprofit computer science education organization focused on Black and Latino young men. They create economic opportunities for young men of color by developing an entrepreneurial mindset and supplying them with the tools they need to succeed in the innovation economy. Ultimately, their goal is to close the wealth, income, and opportunity gaps for this underrepresented group. 

Join us in sharing All Star Code’s call for applications for its 2022 Summer Intensive, taking place July 11 through August 19. Their flagship intensive delivers the equivalent of one year of collegiate-level computer science education. Young men of color entering or attending high school may apply. No coding experience is required, and GPA is not considered during the admission process. 

We are happy to share resources and opportunities from our partners. If you are interested in collaborating with TLA and learning more about how we can work together to make strides for education equity, please contact Jessica Mayorga

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