School Empowerment Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers local leaders to create high-performing schools centered around proven design principles, rigorous and engaging instruction, and caring relationships between students and staff.
Establish a roadmap to a shared understanding of school quality district-wide or within specific school buildings.
Identify the highest-leverage action steps to put schools on track for improvement.
Provide a common language with which to evaluate school progress.
Support the prioritization of professional learning and resources.
Support cohorts of select school leaders in developing “School Design Guides” blueprints for new, innovative schools.
Guide leaders through a curriculum which helps them develop a detailed school design and successfully bring it to life.
Develop and hone participants’ leadership and change management skills so they can expertly lead new school communities.
Interrupt inequitable practices, examining biases, and creating inclusive multicultural school environments for adults and children
Partner with school leaders to align visions and practices that are both student- centered and student-empowering
Challenge the traditional systems and structures in schools that serve as barriers to relationship-building and student achievement
SCHOOL QUALITY REVIEWS
Founding members of SEN oversaw the quality reviews for all 1,700 schools in New York City. Today SEN leads school quality assessment and strategic planning support for chronically underperforming schools and districts in Massachusetts, as well as for middle schools in Rhode Island.
SEN’s CEO previously oversaw the launch of 121 new schools across NYC. MDRC researchers found that these schools successfully increased outcomes for students of color. SEN now leads new school design training for the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
CULTURALLY RESPONSIVE SCHOOL CULTURE COACHING
SEN coaches previously supported small high schools in NYC to re-imagine staff and student relationships, increasing student and parent satisfaction and leading to improved academic results. Today SEN helps teachers and leaders in Southbridge, MA develop tools and practices that create student-centered cultures.
GET IN TOUCH
Our interventions are designed to bring about the common attributes of thriving schools. Fill out the form below to get in touch!
• The Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership (SEZP) is an attempt to create a zone within the Massachusetts public school system using conditions which make charter schools successful. Springfield’s is one of a small number of similar efforts countrywide to create serious autonomy and accountability conditions in district schools.
• SEN supports key strategic priorities of the SEZP by conducting an annual set of School Quality Reviews (beginning Spring 2018). This SQR process yields written reports for each school to inform school-level improvement planning, as well as data sets which help the district plan supervision and support across schools.
• SEZP schools are moving in a positive direction. Compared to baseline SQR data from Spring 2018, nine of 10 participating schools made progress in all turnaround practices of SEZP’s Roadmap for Student Success framework.
• SQR recommendations have been formally rolled into the annual strategic planning process across the district and feed into each principal’s performance framework.
• SEN now provides the Massachusetts Department of Education with a comprehensive, statewide package of support and school monitoring visits which includes the generation of goals and benchmarks to guide school improvement work.
• Families’ demand for charter seats in NYC continues to exceed supply, with more than 48,000 children on wait lists. This need is concentrated in neighborhoods with a dearth of options. In partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, SEN both designed and launched the NYC Charter Leader Fellowship (est. 2016) to identify and mobilize NYC’s next cohort of visionary charter school leaders.
• SEN recruited entrepreneurial leaders and coached them through the three-year process of writing charters, planning for opening, and launching new schools. Through the fellowship, each aspiring leader was guided to generate a clear mission and vision for both instruction and school culture and to then build a detailed school design for bringing their vision to life. This program also focused on helping them develop the leadership skills needed to effectively build a new school and manage a staff to high standards of quality.
• Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA), a STEAM-focused high school for girls, opened in Brooklyn in 2017. From within BELA’s inaugural class, 93% of students earned the required number of credits to graduate with a NYS Regents Diploma.
• A second CLF school, Elm Community Charter School, opened in Queens in 2018. A NYCDOE survey shows that 95% of teachers responded positively to questions about effective school leadership and that 95% of families feel the principal works to create a sense of community in and around the school.
• Three additional fellowship schools opened in 2019 and 2020: Hellenic Classical (2019), University Prep (2019) and Walkabout Bronx High School (2020). Results from these schools will be reported in 2021.
• Michigan Governor Rick Snyder created the Education Achievement Authority (EAA), in 2011, with the aim of revitalizing Michigan’s most persistently failing schools.
• One of the EAA’s main strategies was to identify and train the state’s greatest educational leaders in order to dramatically improve outcomes in related schools.
• During SYs 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, SEN launched a Leadership and Design Institute which prepared leaders and turnaround teams to launch Small Learning Communities (SLCs) in chronically failing schools.
• The establishment of a career ladder complemented these efforts by recognizing and training outstanding teachers across the district, using them to staff turnaround teams, and creating long-term stability by preparing developing leaders for the future.
• Identified leaders were trained to generate “reset” moments and replace entrenched cultures of low expectations with effective, sustainable structures and practices.
• SQR data reported by Class Measures for SYs 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 showed steady improvement for all school quality scores across all 11 EAA schools.
• Between 2015 and 2017, the percent of EAA students meeting their growth targets on the NWEA assessment increased substantially, rising from 43% to 55% in math and 44% to 51% in reading. Furthermore, average growth in the percent of students meeting their NWEA targets was even stronger for SLCs–rising from 42% to 62% for math and 42% to 58% in reading.
• As part of the Systems of Great Schools (SGS) initiative, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) is supporting participating districts as they expand the number of high-quality seats through the design and launch of new schools. TEA sought out SEN to design and launch the New School Design Fellowship to ensure aspiring leaders get superior support for school design. The first NSDF cohort was launched in Fall 2019 and participating districts opened their new schools in August 2020.
• Districts applied a rigorous internal selection process to identify and name entrepreneurial passionate leaders to design and launch new schools.
• In the first year of the New School Design Fellowship, participants spend the fall semester exploring the assets and needs of their community, examining effective school models, and crafting the vision for their schools’ model. During this time they plan how they will provide high-quality academics, a vibrant and inclusive school culture, and a talented faculty committed to continuous improvement. In the spring semester, participants focus on bringing their vision to life by building out the enabling systems and their own leadership skills to implement the model with fidelity.
• Participating districts support each new school by ensuring key autonomies, providing facilities, and facilitating startup funding. In addition, they provide supervision and support aligned with the design and expectations for the new school model.
• After the school design process, Districts have the opportunity to apply for Continuation Coaching from the SEN team which includes two years of 1:1 leadership coaching as well as quarterly convenings focused on developing leadership skills and reflecting and improving on school outcomes.
• Four of the five participants in the first NSDF cohort completed a high-quality School Design Guide and opened a new school in August 2020.
• 100% of participants in the first NSDF cohort rated the following aspects of their experience effective or highly effective: a) professional development sessions, b) 1:1 coaching on school design and 1:1 coaching on leadership skills, c) centering each design topic on issues of equity
• Based on the success of the program and their satisfaction with the process, all 3 districts with schools who completed the pilot program have both enrolled in ongoing continuation coaching and applied to TEA through the School Action Fund process to enroll new Fellows in NSDF Cohort 2
• In line with its mission to create 25,000 quality seats by 2025, Detroit Children’s Fund created the DCF Team Fellows program to help leadership teams raise the bar for student achievement and rise among Michigan’s top-performing schools.
• DCF chose to partner with SEN to offer an intensive development opportunity for select school leadership teams.
• SEN selected three schools on the cusp of strong performance and worked with their existing leadership teams to move their students’ growth from “good” to “great.”
• SEN coaches conducted baseline SQRs and led the development of comprehensive Achievement Plans outlining ambitious goals connected to school leadership, culture, and improved instruction–along with actions steps and benchmarks.
• Mumford Academy (a school SEN helped launch in 2016) had an average SAT score of 822, which put it above all other non-selective Detroit high schools. Student behavioral reports entered for positive actions grew 17%, the school saw a 39% decrease in student referrals, and overall student attendance climbed to 91%.
• Based on NWEA assessments, between fall 2018 and spring 2019, the percent of Detroit Achievement Academy students performing at grade level or above increased substantially, rising from 24% to 49% in math and 37% to 43% in reading.
• In January 2016, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to designate the Southbridge Public Schools (SPS) as chronically underperforming, placing the district in state Receivership.
• To support the implementation of its turnaround plan, in 2019 SPS chose to partner with SEN to support the development of tools, systems, and professional development to help Southbridge Middle School realize its vision for strengthening school culture.
• The SEN culture coach supported the development of school leaders’ and teachers’ capacity in relation to culture building. This included an assessment of teacher needs, design of a professional development plan to address identified needs, as well as facilitation of teacher training sessions to meet those needs.
• In addition, the SEN culture coach worked closely with the administrators of the Southbridge culture team to support, troubleshoot and develop plans to further culture goals.
• Currently, SEN coaches continue to provide monthly school culture coaching including strategic planning with appropriate staff, co-observation of and feedback on classroom management, SEL activities for advisory, as well as support with design, monitoring, and refinement of systems and structures to support improvements to school culture.
• Results for this project will be reported on December 2020.
• Expected results:
– Student attendance and seat time will increase as suspensions and referrals decrease due to enhanced student confidence
– Incidents between students and student-teacher will reduce as community members are taught to peacefully resolve conflict
– Students and teachers will report a more welcoming environment due to implementation of positively oriented systems
– Students and teachers will report greater levels of mutual respect
– Students will report increases in recognition and value through regular celebrations and greater voice in decision-making