This week Eduwonk features guest posts from different members of Bellwether’s Policy and Thought Leadership team who lead some of our most impactful work. The post below is by Jennifer Schiess.
The education sector is plagued by binary thinking that labels possible solutions as either heroic or evil. Too often we see advocates relying on a narrow selection of evidence that supports a particular point of view, rather than acknowledging that evidence is often murky, sometimes contradictory, and nearly always complex.
At Bellwether, we wanted to help paint a fuller picture of what we know — and don’t know — in education. So in August 2016, we launched The Learning Landscape to provide an even-handed presentation of the history, trends, and evidence on six core issues in education:
- Student Achievement
- Accountability, Standards, and Assessment
- School Finance
- Teacher Effectiveness
- Charter Schools
This dynamic website has been a resource for the field, the media, and in the public, adding the complexity lacking in many debates today. Here’s a small sampling of what people have been saying on Twitter:
We heard from college professors at Georgetown University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Virginia, who are using the site as course material in undergraduate and graduate level courses in public policy and education. And we’ve gotten numerous pieces of anecdotal feedback reinforcing the quality of the content and the presentation.
As we approach The Learning Landscape’s first birthday, we are contemplating what is next. We are currently seeking funding to maintain the site and grow version 2.0 as a resource to inform the critical debates shaping schooling for millions of American students. Our wish list includes:
Covering more topics. The Learning Landscape covers a lot, but there’s a lot more it could include. We’re imagining new chapters on early childhood education, innovation and personalized learning, special education, rural education, and more, plus a broader, more comprehensive treatment of school choice policies.
Increasing interactivity. We want to upgrade visuals and data presentations and add dynamic features to make the data and information even more accessible, engaging, and useful.
Adding new features. In addition to providing current and vetted information on critical topics in the education landscape, we’re thinking of ways to provide a portal to more real-time conversations and perspectives. We could highlight the publication of new research in the field, connect users to recent news on the topics covered, or to track major policy movements at the federal and state level. We could also create audio or video content, such as podcasts or interviews to showcase policy discussions among leaders in the field.