The Learning Accelerator Blog/Blog: Introducing the Always Ready for Learning Strategy Lab

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Blog: Introducing the Always Ready for Learning Strategy Lab

by Nate Kellogg & Lauren Schwartze on July 24 2020

The Learning Accelerator (TLA), in partnership with Bellwether Education Partners, is excited to announce the launch of the Always Ready for Learning Strategy Lab, a new networked learning community to accelerate the development of school system strategies and field learning towards a more resilient and equitable education future. We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to work and learn alongside district leaders as they navigate this challenging time.

The nine-month, pro bono cohort-based learning experience is supporting a small group of districts with return-to-school preparations as well as planning for long-term sustainable change in response to COVID-19. The cohort currently includes seven districts:

Austin Independent School District, Austin, TX

Cedar Rapids Community School District, Cedar Rapids, IA

Indianapolis Public Schools, Indianapolis, IN

Mastery Charter Schools, Philadelphia, PA & Camden, NJ

Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, Monterey, CA

Phoenix Charter Academy, Chelsea, MA

Renton School District, Renton, WA


In total, the cohort districts serve 163,421 students across the country. The intentionally diverse group represents all major regions of the country, including suburban and urban districts, some with fewer than 600 students and others with nearly 100,000. All of them serve a majority of students furthest from opportunity, including students with exceptionalities (identified as having Individualized Education Plans), emerging multilinguists (identified as students who are learning English), students living in situations of poverty (identified by qualification for the federal free or reduced lunch program), or Black, indigenous, and students of color. By establishing a diverse cohort with differing local contexts, TLA hopes to not only uncover common ecosystem challenges and ways to support this work at scale but also allow district leaders to build authentic relationships and support one another.

Through monthly cohort sessions, biweekly individualized planning meetings, and additional small-group collaboration with experts, districts are: receiving targeted support and collaboration for prioritized needs for back-to-school to accelerate student progress in fall 2020; developing financially and operationally sustainable roadmaps for longer-term changes toward more equitable and resilient instructional models; and connecting with other district teams as well as existing experts and resources for implementation of new models and approaches at scale.

In addition, through our work with each district, TLA will actively share what we learn with the field. Follow the Always Ready for Learning blog for real-time insights and resources from this new networked learning community. To join the conversation, follow us on Twitter at @LearningAccel and use the hashtag #AlwaysReadyForLearning.

About the Author

Nate Kellogg is a Partner at The Learning Accelerator. Lauren Schwartze is a Senior Associate Partner at Bellwether Education.