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ANet is a nonprofit dedicated to the premise that every child in America deserves an excellent education and the opportunities it provides. We pursue our vision of educational equality in America by helping schools boost student learning with great teaching that is grounded in standards, informed by data, and built on the successful practices of educators around the country.

Change is hard, but it can lead to great things for students.

ANet blog

As a mission-driven nonprofit organization, our primary concern is helping ensure equitable opportunity for all students.

Working alongside schools, we’ve learned that great teaching is grounded in standards, data, and insights shared among educators. We believe a blog can help us make a difference by spreading the ideas and effective practices of educators we work with.

We’re proud of the expertise our team has built over our ten years, and we'll be featuring contributions from ANetters across the org on topics in which they’ve immersed themselves.

Help us spread opportunity for all students: please share posts that you find valuable with your colleagues. And please add your thoughts in the comments: we would love this blog to facilitate knowledge-sharing in all directions.

Change is hard, but it can lead to great things for students.

Jeff Odell

Like many schools, Hyde Leadership Charter, a K-12 school in the Bronx, struggled with the Common Core transition last year. Teachers and leaders saw the potential, but they were wary. There were competing priorities. “Data-driven instruction” and “standards-based planning” had started to dominate every conversation. The transition seemed to be taking away from their actual work.

And, as academic dean Grace Campbell-Hay admitted, there was uncertainty. Fear, even. All of a sudden, teaching was changing.

Hyde had dedicated and talented teachers. Its leadership team was experienced and committed to harnessing the power of data to improve achievement. And it was open to new approaches.

ANet coach Sarah Tierney worked alongside them all year, organizing data meetings and providing information and planning tools. They had paced interim assessments and data reports from ANet, too. It was all important—no one questioned that.

But uncertainty about the new standards kept work with student data—even during the two-hour quarterly data meetings—at a surface level. Diving in would require a commitment that everyone felt hesitant to make.

So Sarah listened, and learned. Hyde’s teachers and leaders wanted to better understand the standards and guidance on how to set actionable goals. They wanted to engage around data in a meaningful way, one that would make the instructional path clearer. Most of all, they wanted to know that they were having a positive impact on their students.

Sarah offered encouragement, resources developed by ANet, and insights gleaned from other ANet partner schools. Hyde’s team dove into ANet’s online offerings, from the quiz tool to the student misconception guides; attended ANet network meetings and PD sessions; and even visited other schools in the network to see how their peers were adapting.

Slowly, a shift began. The language of the standards crept into conversations at Hyde, and they referred to student data, or student responses on an assessment question, when they talked together about teaching and learning.

Meetings structured around targeted small goals, with small ‘huddles’ facilitated by Grace after each segment, sparked palpable excitement about student progress against the standards and how to foster it through clear action planning. This was the kind of meaningful, usable collaboration Hyde’s teachers had been craving.

Now, Grace says, her teachers can’t wait for the data to come back from each interim assessment. They talk about how they’ll re-teach to address student confusions, what resources they’ve found helpful, that tip they heard in the last Common Core learning session. And then they act.

Next year, Hyde will expand its data meetings to full-day sessions—morning on ELA, afternoon on math. Teachers are fired up. “Even just with the two-hour meetings this year,” Grace says, “I’ve seen so much improvement. They know what they need to do, and they’re incorporating it into their instruction. There’s a change.”

Her voice, even across a wobbly cell phone connection at the end of a long school day, is exultant.

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