Ensemble Learning, formerly The College-Ready Promise, is a national organization committed to fixing inequities in the education system by improving how schools serve students – especially our most underserved.
Since 2009, we have worked with leading charter schools to help teachers be more effective. We tap into educators’ valuable knowledge, passion and experience solving problems by building cohorts of schools facing similar challenges so educators can learn from each other. We think of ourselves as the glue that holds groups of educators together, by facilitating learning and creating accountability.
Working together to remove barriers to achievement, we can create a future where every student is set up to seize the college and career opportunities before them.
Ensemble Learning’s organizational values mirror what we believe are traits needed to run a successful network. We value the following qualities:
- Equity: Working to undo the inequities in our system
Successful networks have a common goal. These goals must have students at the center and focus on serving students who have been underserved. There must be a passion to improve student outcomes for the benefit of the students themselves.
- Collaboration: Solving problems together to serve students better
Learning is social. Adults, like students, learn best when they can work with others for to find innovative and effective solutions. This collaboration also creates a team within the organization to make changes, often hard ones, happen.
- Fun: Sustaining ourselves and each other by infusing it with joy
Networks depend on relationships. These are built through trust. One way of building this trust is by getting to know each other and playing together. Relationships naturally deepen when you enjoy spending time with others.
- Learning: Continuously failing, reflecting and learning
By supporting a network of CMOs through several learning cycles, we provide them with practice and tools to not only work on the problem identified, but build a culture of learning that continues beyond the project.
- Purposefulness: Focusing all of decisions in service to students
We believe every resource used to support the network needs to be purposeful. Each activity, reading, school visit, etc. must align with learning that will ultimately impact students.
Create joyful places of learning that inspire children and adults.
Foster authentic relationships with the communities they serve.
Engage students in challenging and relevant instruction.
Hold high expectations for all members of the community and provide the supports needed.
Ensemble Learning always begins partnerships by listening and looking at data to identify your greatest needs. We strongly believe in leveraging the talent and expertise that already exists within schools, so we help build a cohort of school leaders facing the same challenges.
Once a common challenge is identified, we address the challenge as a cohort by:
- Bringing in outside experts or consultants
- Identifying and discussing the latest research
- Visiting model schools that have addressed the challenge successfully
- Facilitating peer feedback on plans, observations of instruction and school systems
- Conducting data analysis and discussing important findings
- Creating or identifying assessment tools
- Observing teaching and learning in schools to provide feedback and suggestions
Rather than focusing on growth and test scores, we take a more holistic approach to improve academics and school culture. We help create solutions that reflect your school’s priorities and community.
Partnering with Ensemble Learning
We are currently working with cohorts in California and Texas. We will begin working with charter schools across the country beginning in 2018. Contact us to discuss your school’s needs.
Thank You to Our Partners and Funders
Elise leads Ensemble Learning’s strategic vision to improve charter school quality and remove barriers to achievement for underserved students. Previously, Elise was the founding chief academic officer at Aspire Public Schools, where she grew the organization to a high-performing charter management organization with 38 schools in Tennessee and California. She was also the founding instructional coordinator at the San Carlos Charter Learning Center, the first charter school in California and the second in the nation. Elise is a Pahara Fellow and a Leap Ambassador.
Leigh gathers and analyzes schools’ data for Ensemble Learning. In addition, she assists with organizational strategy and fundraising. Leigh holds a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Previously, she served as a data scientist and researcher for a large school district and curriculum development company. Leigh specializes in understanding motivation in education, particularly in math and science.
Farah leads the finance and administration functions at Ensemble Learning. Before joining Ensemble, she was director of operations for Alpha Public Schools where she served on the senior leadership team and oversaw organization-wide operations. In prior roles with Oakland Unified School District and The Broad Center she led large process-improvement and systems implementation initiatives. Farah earned her master’s degree in education policy and leadership from Stanford University and is an Education Pioneers alumna.
Constance is the chief external affairs officer at The Noble Network of Charter Schools. Prior to joining Noble, she served with the KIPP Foundation for six years in various roles, including national development director. She has also worked in the private sector at Hyatt and Johnson & Johnson. Constance has a master’s degree from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Beth is a former middle school educator and administrator. She is a 19-year member of the Board of Education of the San Carlos School District Board of Trustees. She was a founder of the San Carlos Charter Learning Center and the director of the Charter School Division for the state of California. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Oklahoma Baptist University and her master’s degree from the University of Southern California.
Marco is the chief executive officer of Green Dot Public Schools National. Prior to joining Green Dot, Marco founded R3 School Solutions, an organization that provided management and administrative services to charter management organizations. He was a partner at Bain & Company, a global management consulting firm. He earned his Bachelor of Science and master’s degree in business administration at Columbia University.
Adeola (Ola) Whitney
Ola is the chief regional officer at iMentor. She was previously chief regional operations officer at Reading Partners, where she managed more than 14 executives across the country. Before Reading Partners, Ola served as Playworks’ executive director for the Greater New York/Greater Newark region. Prior to her work in nonprofits, she spent nearly a decade in leadership roles at Kaplan. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College.
Middle School Math:
Understanding the Math Standards – Instructions
Students with Disabilities:
Noble-Developed SAT aligned assessment specifics as well as how to request copies of the assessment.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO CREATE A NETWORK OF SCHOOLS?
LESSON #1: GROUPING THE PARTICIPANTS
Ensemble Learning is a national organization committed to fixing the inequities in the education system by improving how schools serve students – especially our most underserved. To accomplish this work, we’re working directly with charter school leaders in three different pilots to provide space, expertise, collaboration and resources they can leverage to address the challenges at their school sites. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about the best way to build networks of charter school operators to improve instruction.
The first lesson we learned is how to group the participants. In one case, we looked at data for a gap in achievement between English learners and native speakers in a specific region and invited those CMOs to work with us. In the second pilot, we put out a national RFP focused on helping teachers who teach learners with disabilities. The final pilot allowed any CMO of a certain size in a specific city to participate.
Our conclusion is that there is no single way. Although the data was important to identify a common need, the impetus for improvement did not come organically from the organization. We were an outside agency offering a way to take action. Offering an RFP provided an active route for organizations to commit, but many of the individual participants weren’t sure why they were part of the pilot. Finally, the geographic group of charter schools could not identify a common problem they were all able to address.
In our future networks, we’ll use a combination of approaches. First, we’ll use data to identify schools with a common instructional need. Next, we’ll introduce ourselves, explain the project and make sure the right individuals are aware of the work we’ll do. Finally, we’ll ask them to do a simple RFP that includes every participant signing before submitting.
COMING NEXT: LESSON #2: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FIRST MEETING