Blog

The Rennie Center recently welcomed two members to its inaugural cohort of Research Fellows. This fellowship is a unique opportunity for graduate-level researchers to partner with the Rennie Center as they produce original research examining the status of the education system in Massachusetts and beyond. The Research Fellows, Christopher Cleveland and Wendy Wei, were chosen through a competitive selection process, and they will spend the coming months creating and refining a research product to be released in early 2020.

 

Though Massachusetts schools lead the nation in many areas, we're falling behind other states when it comes to Early College programs that allow high school students to take college courses and earn credit for both. To help more schools launch Early College programs, we took a look at successful examples from across the state and nation and developed a hands-on guide to getting started.
The Rennie Center and Transforming Education have won a $30,000 grant from America’s Promise Alliance, a national organization, to support a community convening to advance young people’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. We are partnering with the Boston Public Schools to align the district’s social and emotional learning (SEL) work with its Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Practices (CLSP) Framework. They will focus on convening students and families to bring their voices into the conversation and drive these efforts forward.
In the United States, one in nine young people is neither in school nor working. That’s 4.5 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24. This population, known as Opportunity Youth (OY), is disconnected in a way that leads to lower lifetime earnings and a higher likelihood of social isolation. To solve this national challenge, we have to start locally. OY are, by definition, disconnected from major public and private institutions, and often turn to smaller community providers for help. What can communities and employers do to engage this group of young people and unlock their potential? To answer that question, we spoke with young people, community organizations, schools, and employers. Our two recent reports, Career Pathways for Opportunity Youth and Building Local: Lessons from Massachusetts Communities on Reengaging Opportunity Youth, take a look at what’s currently being done to support OY and what can be done better.
In Massachusetts and across the nation, we are facing a crisis in children’s behavioral health care. Too many of our young people are not getting the support they need because of a shortage of available and accessible services, a lingering stigma around mental health care, and insufficient parity in insurance coverage between physical and behavioral health care. As a place where most children can be reached daily, schools have the potential to help address this issue. Our latest report looks at how schools in Boston are doing just that through the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model.
For too many young people, the transition from high school to college or a career poses significant challenges. In Boston alone, nearly 5,000 16- to 24-year-olds are not in school or employed. This group, known as Opportunity Youth, represents incredible untapped promise and potential. Our latest report, Career Pathways for Opportunity Youth, takes an in-depth look at what career pathways exist for Opportunity Youth by going straight to the source
Over the last several years we’ve seen the interest in expanding social-emotional learning (SEL) grow exponentially, with district and state leaders joining educators in committing to making it a priority. This commitment has never been more clear to us than on May 1 at our conference focused on the past, present, and future of SEL in Massachusetts. The event was sold out, drawing a crowd of 350 participants who were eager to engage in the topic. Participants heard from 50 speakers throughout the day including members of the Excellence through Social Emotional Learning (exSEL) Network.
For many students, classroom instruction is not enough to ensure success in school. Hunger, homelessness, worry or sadness over a difficult family situation can interfere with a student’s readiness to learn. To create schools that fully support students and improve learning outcomes, , we need to break down barriers to learning by building a system—guided by proven practices—that harnesses the power of both school- and community-based resources.

Educators, community members, and policy-makers across the state are working tirelessly to find the best path forward for schools. They debate what policies will have the biggest impact on student outcomes and what practices will help reduce the achievement gap. They come together to discuss new ideas to improve education. But all too often these conversations are missing a crucial perspective: students themselves.

The Excellence through Social Emotional Learning (exSEL) Network is included as an exemplary approach to supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic development in a report released this week by a prestigious national commission.