Education and Society Program
Education and Society Program
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The Aspen Institute Education and Society Program (Aspen Education) serves as a critical catalyst for learning from leading efforts, reconciling divergent perspectives, and forging new ways to accelerate and improve education reform. Building on the sterling reputation of the Aspen Institute across fields, our program convenes leaders from policy, practice and research and sponsors dialogue leading to action.
Aspen Education convenes urban district superintendents at the vanguard of reform, helping them to learn from each other and from the latest developments in research and policy. We also organize seminars, retreats and site visits for senior Congressional education staffers, creating a safe space away from the partisanship of Capitol Hill for them to learn from practitioner leaders and state policymakers about how federal policy affects practice. Likewise, we work with senior policymakers at the federal, state, and local level to help them strategically develop policies to improve outcomes for students.
Aspen Education has three unique attributes that make the work especially valuable for achieving impact:
- working closely with senior school system leaders and senior policymakers, we work at the nexus of policy and practice, often translating the intentions and lessons from one sector to the other;
- working on both human capital and Common Core, we are able to see the opportunities for these agendas to reinforce each other, and also to sound the alarm when the work is disconnected or causes tension across these two highly complementary but often siloed agendas;
- leveraging the Aspen Institute’s reputation as a thought leader and neutral convener, we are able to attract top-level expertise and host honest conversations that improve policy and practice.
Our Streams of Work:
The Common Core
Over the last several years, Aspen Education has emerged as a key partner in advancing the Common Core:
- producing Common Core materials for state legislators with Achieve, Ed First, and Insight Education Group (December 2012);
- creating a primer on Close Reading of Text, and networking literacy directors from three urban school districts to create open-source professional development modules that have been used across the country (October 2012);
- partnering with The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to publish recommendations on integrating implementation of Common Core and teacher effectiveness policies (to be published in May 2013);
- developing a transition guide and related training for principals and principal supervisors, in partnership with key Common Core implementation partners (e.g., Student Achievement Partners, Education First, etc.)(Summer 2013);
- connecting national leaders and journalists with key implementation leaders in the field to ensure that experience and early learning informs policy development moving forward (ongoing).
Aspen Education is poised to make significant contributions to the success of Common Core through networks and meetings, publications, and off-the-record advice to education leaders and policymakers in 2013 and beyond.
Past Streams of Work:
Thinking and acting strategically about human capital development and management is the lifeblood of most high-performing businesses and organizations. Public education in this nation should be no different. Principals' and teachers' performance has more effect on student achievement than any other factor and their effectiveness in increasing student performance varies widely.
High School Reform
From 2000-2006, Aspen's policy work involved a series of summer workshops, state-based forums, and publications on high school reform that helped policy makers and practitioners frame new approaches to transforming high school.