How 6 schools have reimagined education to support underserved students

In a new analysis released by the Canopy Project, education leaders share their strategies, including a microschool for indigenous students and partnership with an early learning center for pregnant and parenting students.

Education innovation has always been the goal for schools, and that is especially true coming out of the pandemic.

COVID-19 forced schools to adapt and implement new practices, and some of those are here to stay, such as video conferencing and hybrid-learning options.

Most importantly, innovation is a collaborative effort, and a number of education leaders have provided insight into what it looks like to “reimagine” education.

A new analysis released this week by the Canopy Project, a representation of 161 learning environments to address K-12 innovation practices, created by the Center on Reinventing Public Education and Transcend, illustrates how school leaders are reshaping education.

132 nominating organizations were asked to submit their suggestions for innovative practices done at public, charter and private schools. Leaders from nominated schools were asked about “why and how” they’re promoting K-12 innovation. Among their reported practices in learning environments, five prominent categories emerged:

  1. Educational justice and holistic student support
  2. Postsecondary pathways and the world outside school
  3. Deeper learning for mastery
  4. Flexible and individualized learning pathways
  5. Blended learning

Additionally, social-emotional learning, competency-based education and culturally responsive practices were among the most common in schools. Leaders say they want to learn more about non-traditional assessment practices, such as SEL and widening measures for success, yet project-based learning continues to be an essential pillar of design for school leaders.

80% of the 161 schools that participated in Canopy say education equity is the main focus when creating innovative learning environments. Among various student groups, the top three most prioritized were:

  1. Students with learning differences and disabilities (88%)
  2. Economically disadvantaged students (86%)
  3. Students of color (74%)

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Leaders were also asked how they’ve successfully designed programs to meet the specific needs of their underserved students. Here are six schools that were celebrated in the report for their equitable learning environments:

Georgia Fugees Academy

Located outside of Atlanta, Georgia, the school was originally a tutoring program. Now, it’s a multisite school for refugee and immigrant students aimed at providing a soccer-focused curriculum.

Lumen High School

This high school, located in Spokane, Washington, gives pregnant and parenting students an opportunity for education in partnership with an early learning center.

Albuquerque Sign Language Academy

Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the academy serves students who have complex disabilities, including deaf students, through a communications-based learning approach.

Yampa Valley High School

Students in Steamboat Springs, Colorado get a second chance at education. The school offers personalized alternate education for those who don’t perform well in a traditional school setting.

Oceti Sakowin Educational Learning Center

Located in Rapid City, South Dakota, this six-student microschool helps indigenous students thrive academically as they learn by immersing themselves in their language and culture.

Rainier Valley Leadership Academy

Primarily serving Black students in Seattle, Washington, students are asked to question traditional education practices through an identity-affirming learning environment.

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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