Colorado Rural Districts and Partners Win $1 Million William and Flora Hewlett Grant

The Student-Centered Accountability Program (S-CAP), its five founding districts (Buena Vista, Buffalo-Merino, Kit Carson, La Veta, and Monte Vista), and partners Battelle for Kids, Generation Schools Network, and the University of Colorado Denver Center for Practice Engaged Education Research are the recipients of a $1 million, three-year William and Flora Hewlett Foundation grant.

The grant will support the work of S-CAP, a collaborative, innovative school improvement initiative focused on helping rural districts use multiple measures in evaluating student learning to better reflect and communicate growth of the whole child in a meaningful way. In spring 2016, S-CAP districts became a work group of the Colorado Rural Education Collaborative, a 50 member education improvement network facilitated by Generation Schools Network. Hewlett Funding will scale S-CAP to 30 rural districts over the next three years.

Improvement measures may include:

  • Mastery of rigorous academic content
  • Development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • The ability to work collaboratively
  • Effective oral and written communication
  • Learning how to learn
  • Developing and maintaining an academic mindset

“The real value of the grant is that it supports a research and practice partnership involving districts, school improvement organizations, and higher education to develop innovative educational solutions that work for students, their families, and their community. This kind of partnership does not often happen in rural places and it greatly accelerates local capacity to deepen the learning experiences for every child,” said, Robert Framel, Superintendent, Kit Carson School District.

S-CAP’s three main components in support of deeper learning include:

  • Accountability and improvement rubrics and tools centered on the mastery of rigorous academic content as well as dispositions and skills for effective learning
  • A System Support Review (SSR) practice districts use before, during, and after cross-district peer site visits to identify existing and/or introduce innovative practices for teaching and learning as prioritized by local school boards
  • A superintendent-led networked improvement community focused on identifying and disseminating practices to help leaders and teachers better educate the whole child

According to Buena Vista superintendent Lisa Yates, “Attending System Support Reviews can be a valuable professional development opportunity for teachers, board members, and administrators. We have heard from administrators that it is the most helpful feedback they have ever received, and from teachers that it has significantly reduced isolation and seeded ideas and relationships to solve problems of practice.”

The primary goal of S-CAP is to provide effective and proven ways to help districts continuously improve how they serve every student and the whole student.