by NewSchools Venture Fund staff

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2020 has been a year of challenge and change. Routines have been upended, we’ve faced an ongoing public health crisis, confronted systemic racial injustice across our communities and survived a grueling political season that resulted in a historic election.

Throughout all of this there have been many moments of uncertainty and confusion, but there is also opportunity and hope. Schools across the country have been forced to pivot to new ways of teaching, and students have adjusted to new ways of learning. …


by Nathan Shiferaw, Analyst, NewSchools Venture Fund

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Oakland, California. It’s where we live, work, and play. But most importantly, it’s NewSchools’ homebase and we love it.

If this is the first time you’ve heard about us, allow me to introduce our organization to you! We are a venture philanthropy that invests in early-stage innovators who want to make a difference in the world by reimagining education. And, although we make investments across the country, we think it’s just as important to invest right in our backyard. …


By Raffy Maristela, Analyst, NewSchools Venture Fund

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As the global pandemic shut down schools in March 2020, families faced one of the most daunting times of their lives. While education innovation was still a priority for us at NewSchools Venture Fund, it was clear that there were more immediate needs that families were struggling to satisfy. We needed to find a way to help.

So in April, we repurposed our Hometown Fund, originally established to fund longer-term Oakland-based education innovations, to invest in The Oakland REACH and Oakland Public Education Fund (the Ed Fund). …


New Report: The Chief Innovation Officer Toolkit

By Miho Kubagawa, Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund

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In the early 1980s, as enterprise computing became a more sophisticated, complex function, a new corporate leadership role emerged: the chief information officer. In 1986, Businessweek magazine ran the headline “Management’s Newest Star: Meet the Chief Information Officer.” What was once a novel addition to the C-suite is now a commonplace and indispensable role four decades later.

In the late 1990s, a new CIO role emerged — a chief innovation officer — someone who leads the innovation and change management processes within an organization. As is often the case, practices originating in the private sector eventually make their way into public agencies and nonprofit organizations. …


By Justin Wedell, Associate Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund

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Earlier this year, we released an analysis of the tools teachers said they were using most often in our 2019 survey with Gallup on “Education Technology Use in Schools.” In that analysis, we found that most teachers were using different digital learning tools, painting a picture of a highly-fragmented marketplace. We also found that elementary school teachers were more likely than their secondary school counterparts to name subject-specific digital learning tools instead of more content-agnostic platforms. …


By Erin Harless, Manager of Research and Learning, NewSchools Venture Fund

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One of the biggest talent challenges facing the education sector today is the demographic mismatch between the students attending PK-12 public schools and the teachers and leaders who serve them. Today’s students are the most diverse in the history of our nation. Yet, the educators who serve them do not reflect this diversity.

The research on the benefits of having a representative teacher workforce for student academic and social-emotional success is clear, which is why we invest in organizations that increase teacher diversity. We also seek to contribute to the field’s understanding of why diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential in the education sector. …


Now is the Time to Reevaluate our Student Assessment Policies

By Erin Harless, Manager of Research and Learning, NewSchools Venture Fund

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The education sector is in the midst of an overdue reckoning about its role in perpetuating systemic racism in this country, from curricula that perpetuates a Eurocentric worldview to an educator workforce that does not reflect the student population. Yet the assessment community, those responsible for creating and analyzing the tools that “reveal” inequity in our public school system, has been mostly absent from the conversation about racial justice. Why? My hunch is that the (flawed) perception of statistics and assessment as objective are inoculating the assessment community from engaging in racial injustice conversations. But assessments are created and interpreted by people, and therefore they are inherently subjective. …


By Justin Wedell, Associate Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund

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Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

In 2019, NewSchools partnered with Gallup to release “Education Technology Use in Schools,” a comprehensive report to better understand ed tech’s perceptions and usage. This past summer, we conducted a follow-up survey of parents, teachers, and students to evaluate how ed tech’s engagement may be changing in the pandemic context. We also surveyed how these groups feel about the coming school year and the supports they’ll need to be successful.

Some of our findings are particularly salient for ed tech innovators — those building and deploying the education technology upon which schools and families must rely. We’ve highlighted these findings because we feel they are the most relevant for innovators to consider as they develop new features and supports to empower parents, teachers, and students right now. …


By Gabi Netter, Associate Partner, NewSchools Venture Fund

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This article originally appeared in The 74.

Despite pressure from President Donald Trump for schools to offer in-person instruction this fall, many students in states such as California and in 17 of the 20 biggest school districts in the nation will start the year online. As they reopen, schools and districts are taking care to avoid mistakes from the spring, like creating distance learning plans that disadvantage low-income students or focusing on academics at the expense of social-emotional learning. …


By Heather McManus, NewSchools Venture Fund & Jeff Shulz, Bellwether Education Partners

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Photo by Mark Rabe

This post was originally published on Ahead of the Heard, the blog of Bellwether Education Partners.

With school starting in most places in a few weeks, school and network leaders are under tremendous pressure to finalize their reopening plans. With those leaders in mind, Bellwether just released a new planning resource that includes all of the components of a reopening plan, offers questions school leaders should address, and links to concrete guidance and completed plans as examples. …

About

NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund is a national nonprofit venture philanthropy working to reimagine public education.

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