As 2021 comes to a close, we are looking back at our blog posts from the past year and reflecting on how the work we've done has led us to new projects and priorities for 2022. The past year has been challenging and eye-opening. Our education system has faced strains like never before, adapting to the ever-changing needs of students living in a pandemic. We've adapted too, focusing much of our research and practitioner support on helping schools address the pressing needs of students and rebuild in a way that better meets the needs of young people. We’ve conducted research into the challenges created by the pandemic, identified key priorities and strategies for recovery, developed resources to support schools and districts in taking action, and directly engaged practitioners to help ensure students continue to grow and learn during this challenging time. To close out the year, we're sharing these resources again, in case you missed them the first time around. 

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Understanding Responses to COVID-19
Analyzing the Impact of COVID Recovery Funds
The federal government has made an unprecedented $2.9 billion investment in the recovery and redesign of our schools. With each district using the money in different ways, how will we know which investments are making an impact? To find out, we are teaming up with the CERES Institute for Children & Youth and Education Resource Strategies to launch the EdImpact Research Consortium. This new initiative is designed to support evidence-based spending, analyze the impact of COVID recovery funds, and provide a platform for the field to learn from one another and reflect on progress made. READ MORE>

Investing in the Future
Billions of dollars in federal funding is coming to Massachusetts schools this year. What should districts do with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? Healing from the pandemic won’t be a quick fix. Schools need to use this one-time funding to invest in programs and innovations that will lead to long-term benefits and tackle the longstanding challenges of our current education system. Our team came up with a list of practices that schools can invest in right now to both address the current needs of students and lay the building blocks for the modern system of education our children need. READ MORE>

Examining a Year in the Life of Somerville Public Schools
To gain a clearer sense of the bright spots and challenges of the past school year, we took a deep dive into the experiences of one community. After speaking with students, families, educators, and district and city leaders, we released a series of blog posts on Somerville's response to the pandemic. We hope this can shed light on what students and schools across the state need and how communities and policymakers can support them. 

Supporting Holistic Needs of Students
Sharing Lessons Learned in SEL
We have spent the past four years working with districts as part of our Excellence through Social Emotional Learning (exSEL) Network. Together, we've worked to support the development of social-emotional skills through changes in policy and practice at the district, school, and classroom levels. Now, we are sharing what we've learned to give educators across Massachusetts strategies to address SEL during this critical time. We created an action guide and webinar to help educators navigate the process of implementing SEL practices in schools and classrooms. READ MORE>

Making Mental Health a Priority
The impacts of a year in isolation on children’s mental health have been profound. Mental health providers cannot keep up with the demand for services and supporting young people during this time requires a whole community response. But while schools can, and do, play a significant role addressing this challenge, supporting students’ mental health is a significant responsibility that can stress the capacity of schools and educators. That’s why we’ve teamed up with mental health experts to launch Thriving Minds. Through a series of learning opportunities, Thriving Minds provides teachers, school mental health professionals, and school and district leaders with guidance and support to build comprehensive school mental health systems. READ MORE>

Helping Schools Support Every Student
Now more than ever, students need support that schools can’t provide alone. Some need connections to vital services that provide food and a safe place to sleep. Others need help accessing mental and physical health care. Many need opportunities for enrichment—even if virtual—to nurture their strengths and give them social connections in this isolating time. To fully support students, schools need an integrated system of support that can evaluate every student’s unique strengths and needs and connect them to the right resources. 
So how can schools—who are stretched so thin already—build a system like this? Our Systemic Student Support (S3) Academy is here to help.  READ MORE>

Highlighting Community-School Connections
The Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School in Cambridge, the subject of a Rennie Center case study, celebrates the unique culture, heritage, and gifts of every child and educator who walks through its doors. This focus on community proved even more important during the pandemic, as the school showed that times of crisis cannot damage the strength of a community working together in the best interest of children. READ MORE>

Monitoring Access and Opportunity in Education 
Examining Gender and Racial Disparities Among Education Leadership
The education field has paid much attention to the need to diversify the teacher workforce. But how is Massachusetts doing when it comes to gender and racial equity in education leadership? To answer this question we teamed up with the Eos Foundation for a multi-year research project zeroing in on disparities in K-12 leadership. In addition to revealing never-before-seen data on these inequities, the report analyzes the cultural, systemic, and institutional barriers that woman and people of color face when aspiring to these leadership positions.  READ MORE> 

Reimagining the MCAS
It’s been nearly 25 years since the first MCAS tests were taken. With progress stalling, a new understanding of the importance of deeper learning, and decades of data on the unintended consequences the test has had on economically disadvantaged communities and communities of color, it’s time for a change. The technology developed since we began MCAS testing offers the promise of culturally responsive tests that actually measure learning in a meaningful way while providing real-time information to educators, students, and families. Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our approach to assessments. READ MORE>

Looking to the Future
The Future Education Leaders Network (FELN) aims to transform how young people, particularly people of color, are connected to and move through careers in education. Initiated and led by young leaders at the Rennie Center, it serves as a centralized hub where members can build connections, develop a knowledge base, and create their ideal career path. READ MORE>


We’re looking for a new team member to lead our work in supporting pathways to college and career. We currently have several ongoing or forthcoming projects focused on the transition to postsecondary, and we need someone with significant experience in this field to oversee the work and pursue future growth opportunities. The ideal candidate would bring experience in early college or a related field, the ability to facilitate planning conversations among practitioners at the high school and college levels, strong research and writing skills, and a passion for building relationships with potential partners and funders.

The Glass Ceiling in Our Schools
By Mike Kirby
The Sun Chronicle 
December 10, 2021

If someone says “teacher,” what image comes to mind? Probably a woman, right? There’s a reason for that. Across America, 74% of teachers are women, and it’s slightly higher in Massachusetts, 76%. But when it comes to leading schools, that’s a different story. A new study shows that just 39% of Massachusetts school districts are led by a woman. But the Bay State is doing better than the rest of America; only 27% of the nation’s school superintendents are women...READ MORE>


Condition of Education in the Commonwealth
January 26, 2022 | 9:00 AM
Join us on January 26 for a critical discussion on the future of teaching and learning with all three state education commissioners and the Massachusetts Secretary of Education. We’ll share the latest data on progress in student achievement, whole child support, and equity in schools. And we’ll release our 2022 action guide that looks at how our education system can support teachers in navigating this crisis, adapting to the changing times, and providing culturally responsive, innovative, and engaging learning experiences for years to come.


Trauma-Informed Practices for School Mental Health 
Various dates from January through May
Thriving Minds and the Center on Child Wellbeing & Trauma are hosting a professional development series for school and district staff to understand the causes of trauma and identify its symptoms, incorporate trauma-sensitive practices within and outside the classroom, establish systems to collect and use data on effective interventions, and build a trauma-sensitive school culture.


Integrating Social-Emotional Development and STEM Learning 
Various dates from January through April
The Rennie Center and the PEAR Institute are offering a six-session learning opportunity for middle school science teachers to learn about PEAR’s social and emotional development framework and its connections to STEM learning. During sessions, practitioners will identify ways to promote SEL through the lens of equity within their science curriculum and will collaborate with colleagues from across the state to incorporate strategies in upcoming lessons.


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