2022 Eddies Awards: Most Actionable Research

The Eddies—annual, advocate-nominated and voted awards—feature outstanding policy and advocacy wins from the past year.

This Eddies category spotlights resources or tools that shed new light on pressing and widespread problems or solutions and that state and local advocates across the Network leveraged to make a compelling case for policy change and achieve breakthroughs.

See a complete list of 2022 nominees in all Eddies categories. Staff at PIE Network members and partner organizations, check your inbox for a link to vote in each category. Don’t see it? Email [email protected].

Most Actionable Research Finalists

Most Actionable Research Honorable Mentions

FINALISTS

America Succeeds

Durable Skills

In an era when technical skills are evolving at an unprecedented pace, there is an important set of durable ‘soft skills’ that last a lifetime — skills like critical thinking, communication, collaboration, fortitude, growth mindset, and leadership. Through proprietary research and an analysis of more than 80 million job postings with Emsi Burning Glass, America Succeeds proved these skills are in demand across industries, occupational types, educational attainment levels, and geographies.

America Succeeds published the “High Demand for Durable Skills” report in October 2021. Since then, America Succeeds has been supporting partners in 11 states to activate regional business and education coalitions around this work. Nationally, more than 100 organizations have signed onto letters of support, joined conference conversations and media campaigns to embed the initiative into sector narratives, and are interested in helping develop the solutions necessary to scale Durable Skills broadly.

In early August, America Succeeds is launching DurableSkills.org, a first-of-its kind interactive website tying together Durable Skills data with a 53-state analysis of career-ready standards, work-based learning systems, and graduation requirements.

Next up: America Succeeds is focused on turning Durable Skills demand into actions that will transform and expand education-to-career pathways for the mutual benefit of students, employers, and communities through further research; accelerating state policy, advocacy, and implementation efforts; connecting innovative communities of practice; and developing the solutions to support the reimagined future of education (assessments, credentials/badges, new learning models, systems of support, etc.) from an employer-driven rubric of the Durable Skills competencies.

Collaborative for Student Success, Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), and Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University

The Edu Recovery Hub

With support from DQC, EdAllies, EdTrust, George W Bush Institute, National Parent Union, and TNTP

The EduRecoveryHub is a testament to the power of partnership and coalition-building in the areas of education research, policy and advocacy, and communications. Rolled out this year, EduRecoveryHub showcases strong state and district practices in K-12 pandemic recovery supported by $189 billion in federal recovery funds. The user-friendly tool opens the door for promising practices adopted by states and districts to address learning loss to be scaled, replicated, and emulated.

For the joint effort, CRPE and the Edunomics Lab culled through state and district plans to identify promising practices. The Collaborative for Student Success, in turn, designed and built a new online platform to showcase state and district highlights while bringing together a diverse set of education experts and advocates to provide critical feedback and/or endorsements of the practices.

EduRecoveryHub.org, which continues to be updated with promising practices as well as initial analyses of effort implementation, provides the field validated information about bright spots emerging from these investments. It also includes credible analysis, commentary, and recovery news and resources. This coalition is exceptional because of the coordination across levels of work: (a) multiple research teams coordinated to create a qualitative coding tool, (b) the broader group collaborated to vet and identify only the best practices to elevate to the independent panel of reviewers, (c) an exemplary list of civil rights groups and advocates provided honest feedback about each investment that was published directly to the site, and (d) the diverse coalition of partners worked hand-in-hand to disseminate and amplify featured practices and bold, innovative recovery investments to inform public discourse on the topic.

Education Resource Strategies (ERS)

Reimagining the Teaching Job

Across the country, districts and media are grappling with the threat and reality of teacher turnover that leads to inequitable, undesirable outcomes for students. Our “Reimagining the Teaching Job” research and campaign provides a central framework, proposition, and actionable steps for districts across the country to make the teaching job more attractive and sustainable—and create an improved teacher and student experience. State advocacy groups can also use these resources to provide better guidance for districts using one-time funds to invest in evidence-based strategies to support students.

Reimagining the teaching job demands that we challenge core assumptions about how we organize people, time, and money in American public schools. ERS’ research and tools offer new models and do-able strategies (“catalytic entry points”) so that leaders can strategically construct expert-led teaching teams; boost on-ramps into the profession; improve how teachers are assigned, supported, and paid; and create pathways for the most effective educators to deepen their impact without leaving the classroom. 

Together, these research-backed strategies build toward a vision of a teaching job and education system that is dynamic, rewarding, collaborative and sustainable. Our framework and tools have been used in districts across the country to identify high-impact opportunities to change one of the most critical issues facing education today.

Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University

Edunomics Lab’s Learning Loss Calculator

Want an estimate of how pandemic closures affected students in your area? There’s an app for that! Edunomics Lab’s Learning Loss Calculator

In what was a complicated data-heavy project, Edunomics Lab built “The Calculator” to translate new research into usable figures customized for each of 8000 districts.

Users simply select a state and district and the calculator returns:

  1. A customized estimate of how many weeks behind their students are in math and in reading
  2. A projection of the costs it will take to remedy those academic losses
  3. A reminder of how much ESSER 3 money the district received

The goal is to translate emerging research into a format that’s immediately accessible with locally relevant numbers. In this case, NBER research demonstrated the longer districts were remote, the deeper the learning gaps, especially for high-poverty students of color. 

In a remarkable cooperation across several organizations, Edunomics Lab engaged with the study researchers, then used closure data from AEI alongside federal and state data to compute the estimates. 

Based on web traffic, direct feedback, media coverage, and social media sharing to date, advocates and leaders across the country are using The Calculator to emphasize the urgent need to focus ESSER funds on getting students back on track.

ExcelinEd

Pathways Matter State Case Studies

For too long, our country has had a two-tier education system: An upper tier of college preparation and a lower tier of career and technical education track. Pathways Matter is a comprehensive framework of 20 policies to helps states neutralize this two-tier system so all students can access high-quality pathways. Developed in collaboration with an advisory panel, including PIE members, Pathways Matters is a first of its kind resource for policymakers to address the complex education-to-workforce landscape and think strategically across policies to close gaps and prioritize next steps. This past year, ExcelinEd added 7 state case studies, for a total of 17, to PathwaysMatter.org. Each study maps out the state’s existing policies and programs across the framework to provide a holistic view of the work the state has undertaken and identifies opportunities to improve. These studies have been leveraged in conversations with policymakers across the represented states and resulted in concrete next steps, including a plan to implement priorities with OhioExcels and comprehensive workforce legislation (HB1388) passed in Mississippi, which includes industry credentials, alignment with postsecondary and a return-on-investment analysis.

State Case Studies: AR, CO, FL, OK, RI, WA, WV, AZ, ID, IN, KY, MS, NC, OH, TN, TX, UT

National Parents Union

National Parents Union Poll Project

Historically, traditional polls have been driven by specific agendas that do not speak to the lived experiences of the modern American family and education advocacy. The National Parents Union Poll Project started the Spring of 2020 is the only national poll of its kind, developed by parents to capture parent opinions and insert them into public policy conversations and decision-making regarding economic and public education matters impacting American families. As the longest-running and most impactful poll on parent opinions, our data has become the leading source on parent perspectives and is used by elected officials, policymakers, advocates, every day parents, partner organizations and the media.

To date, we have produced 25 polls showing the worries of everyday families surrounding mental health support, Covid issues, social-emotional support, school closure issues, family needs for more educational options and economic barriers and concerns. The National Parents Union Poll Project was and continues to be instrumental in Secretary Cardona’s choice to form the National Parents & Families Engagement Council. 

The Polling keeps a pulse of parent and family needs and leads us in making sure we have equitable outcomes for all students in America.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

A+ Education Partnership

Creating Transparency & Promoting Best Practice for $3 Billion in Federal COVID Relief in Alabama

With billions of COVID-19 dollars given to states, there has been surprisingly little public information about how these funds are being used and how this spending will impact student achievement. The A+ COVID School Spending Tracker is providing a national example for presenting ESSER spending data in a format that encourages both advocates and people new to education advocacy to examine this historic infusion. As the first of its kind nationally, many national partners have reached out to implement a similar tool in their own states. The A+ team is working with multiple PIE members and partner organizations to share our development processes. 

The Tracker, alongside the A+ Advocate Toolkit, shows people ways they can advocate for equitable, effective spending. The tracker includes not only ESSER spending data broken down into easy-to-understand categories such as summer and afterschool or facilities, but also features district-level data on student outcomes. 

The A+ Advocate Toolkit works with the tracker to give advocates evidence-based strategies their school district can take to recover student learning. While many organizations created similar tools, A+ was the only one to create an in-depth district-level tracker alongside a resource for families and communities that worked together to equip and empower advocates to take action to ensure students recover from the pandemic and thrive.

Arkansas Learns

ArkansasReads.org

Knowledge is power. And yet, after attending innumerable Legislative committee meetings, State Board of Education meetings, and local school board meetings, it was apparent that neither the presenters nor their audience knew or were willing to share the facts regarding their respective district’s and/or open-enrollment public charter school’s Reading readiness.

So, we created a web-based interactive, user-friendly map to quickly and elegantly convey the Reading performance (1. Readiness, 2. 1-Year Change, 3. 3-Year Change, 4. Not Close, 5. Not Close Change) of Arkansas’s public schools.

Because of ArkansasReads.org, there is now no excuse for the people, professionals and/or policy makers to hide from the truth regarding the state’s abysmal performance in Reading and its devastating impact on the state. If a student does not learn to read, he/she cannot read to learn.

64% of Arkansas public school students are “Not Ready” in Reading. 38% are “Not Close.” This is a statewide emergency negatively impacting every aspect of our society.

The first step to solve any problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem. With the linked interactive maps, know the Reading performance and growth of your publicly funded schools, and immediately and persistently demand that the adults in charge prioritize Reading above all else.

With over $5.8 Billion spent annually on Arkansas public education, our children deserve an Arkansas Guarantee: All students, except those precluded by intellectual disability, will read at grade level.

BEST NC

Advanced Teaching Roles in North Carolina 

In early 2022, BEST NC published a new policy brief on the Advanced Teaching Roles (ATR) initiative in North Carolina. The brief captures the history of the ATR initiative (2016 – 2022), provides an overview of ATR research/evidence, and shares best practices for schools and districts who are interested in pursuing this innovative staffing model.  The brief also provides the first detailed data on the reach of ATR across the state (more than 200 schools are participating, with more than 900 teachers in Advanced Roles positions reaching almost 60,000 students). Importantly, the brief makes several policy recommendations for how the North Carolina can support the continued growth and improvement of Advanced Teaching Roles. 

BEST NC’s policy brief has been shared widely with state education stakeholders including school and district leaders, educators, and policymakers to help increase understanding and interest in the initiative. The brief also charts a course for other states who wish to leverage a state investment to help “seed” innovative staffing models in their own schools. 

The brief and accompanying videos (which share educator perspectives on this work) can be found at: www.bestnc.org/advancedroles.

Center on Reinventing Education (CRPE)

Crisis Breeds Innovation: Pandemic Pods and the Future of Education

CRPE’s pandemic pods research agenda elevated an important yet under-discussed pandemic experimentation: learning pods. In partnership with our funders, the Center on Reinventing Public Education launched a national initiative that brought together researchers from around the country to track and analyze the pandemic pod movement. Our goal was simple: to learn from the families, educators, and community-based organizations who stepped in during the crisis to solve urgent challenges and, along the way, invented educational solutions that could outlast the pandemic.

Based on a survey, interviews with parents, educators and leaders of pandemic pod initiatives, and more than a dozen case studies, we share findings about educator, family, and student experiences with these small, pandemic learning communities and what they may mean for the future of education. Use this page to explore all of the products of our research.

To highlight ways in which the most salient lessons from pandemic pods could be applied to help better meet the needs of all students, CRPE convened a cross-sector group of education leaders—practitioners, funders, policymakers, researchers, and community advocates—in June 2022. A report with the actionable policy and practice takeaways will be released in the next week.

Education Reform Now

50-state review of state plans for education funds under ARP

In January 2022, DFER affiliate ERN released Driving Towards Equity, a 50-state review of state plans for education funds under ARP, grounded in equity-based recommendations developed in partnership with Network members All4Ed, Education Trust, NCLD, and TeachPlus. 

Through a comprehensive review of both proposed and approved state plans submitted to USDOE, the report provides state-by-state “traffic light” equity ratings of states’ approved plans, best practices, and policy recommendations for state advocates. 

In addition to the national report, we released state-specific reports for the Network states of Connecticut, Colorado, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington, which provide more detailed analyses and recommendations.

Following the publication, our team hosted an accompanying webinar attended by members of at least 15 PIE Network organizations; had conversations with advocates and policymakers in Connecticut, District of Columbia, Michigan, and Washington; and briefed leaders from UnidosUS’ state and local affiliates to provide further guidance on how to use the report to push improvements to ESSER-related policies.

We’ve continued to build on this work, recently releasing a follow-up report, The State of Summer Learning Grants, highlighting how states are using their ARP set aside funds to support summer enrichment programs.

FutureEd

Understanding Covid-Relief Spending Plans

With little information available on how the nation’s school districts and charter networks planned to spend an unprecedented infusion of federal Covid-relief aid, FutureEd in early 2022 undertook a series of analyses of more than 5,000 local plans receiving $84 billion of the $122 billion for K-12 schools in the American Rescue Plan—resulting in a highly detailed portrait of local education agency priorities at the state, regional and national levels. 

By drawing on a data base of school districts and charter networks educating fully 74 percent of the nation’s students, FutureEd provided national, state and local advocates with a wide range of evidence they could deploy in their work to promote academic recovery and other priorities that matter for students, including proposed spending in dozens of categories; dollar figures and projections for total spending; red-state, blue-state comparisons; breakdowns by school district poverty levels and location; deep dives on priority issues like summer learning, mental health, and tutoring; a portrait of a single state’s plans done in partnership with ConnCAN and the School and State Finance Project; and many examples of innovating local spending strategies. 

The series of analyses are linked above, but you can also find the body of our work here: https://www.future-ed.org/category/covid/.

Kids First Chicago

Enrollment Crisis Chicago and Beyond: The Root Causes of Declining Enrollment in Urban Centers and How We Can Respond Humanely

K1C released Chicago’s Enrollment Crisis, a report unpacking the root causes of 20+ years steep enrollment declines in Chicago Public Schools (CPS).  The report shed light on primary drivers being a precipitous drop in births, in-migration of Latinx/a/os, and a quality-of-life driven out-migration of Black families, and how these declines impact public and private schools alike.  National data demonstrates these as the same drivers to enrollment drops in many other US urban school districts.  The report has quickly become a foundational resource for ongoing conversations by the City, CPS and other local organizations regarding what to do about the challenge.  K1C is currently pulling together a second report where families will provide their own perspectives on how they would like to see this very proximal issue addressed by policymakers and the district.  Given the ubiquitous nature of the drivers, we continue to have conversations with groups beyond Chicago who are navigating identical trends in their cities. We hope our follow-up report will provide real tangible solutions from the people most directly impacted by this crisis, and set the stage for humanely responding to enrollment declines.

NewMexicoKidsCAN

New Mexico Education – New Mexico’s Source for Education News

In January of 2022, NewMexicoKidsCAN launched nmeducation.org, a one stop shop for all education news in New Mexico. Unfortunately, with the declining staffing in newsrooms across the country, we noticed a decrease in the quality and quantity of education related stories coming out of our major news outlets. More than ever, we believe it is critical that New Mexicans have access to information about the progress of New Mexico’s education system, current events related to education in New Mexico and spotlights on what is working to transform education throughout the state. That’s why we launched New Mexico Education. By publishing at least two news stories a week, creating avenues to community members to share their perspectives and bringing a reform perspective to education reporting, we are providing a critical resource to our state. 

By creating nmeducation.org, we believe we have created a model for other states to follow to fill a gap in education news deserts across the country. The site is helping us build momentum for our work locally, and we hope that momentum can be leveraged in other states and communities across the country. 

We’ve had 2,323 unique users in 6 months and have garnered over 5,000 views on our published stories.

SCORE

Trends In Tennessee ESSER Spending Data Dashboard & Research Brief

SCORE’s Trends In Tennessee ESSER Plans data dashboard and accompanying research brief provided detailed insight into how districts planned to distribute ESSER funds across key focus areas: academics, student readiness, educators, and foundations. The goal of this research was to develop an actionable tool for superintendents to easily compare their planned ESSER spending to the rest of the state and understand opportunities for plan changes based on those insights. SCORE’s analysis compared plans for district tutoring programs with research-based best practices to provide tailored implementation support to ensure the state’s tutoring initiative is highly impactful for student learning. This is a level of depth of implementation unique to the SCORE resource. The dashboard and research brief helped partners better understand investments in high-impact strategies (like high-dosage tutoring) and supported networks to encourage districts to focus spending in key areas (like student transitions and sustainable educator support). SCORE engaged in early conversations with PIE network partners around the importance of plan transparency in order to drive change. By sharing these tools during early ESSER implementation, other states were motivated to develop similar dashboards and influenced state governments to follow best practices for planning templates that aid analysis and reporting.

Teach Plus & Center for Black Educator Development

To Be Who We Are: Black Teachers on Creating Affirming School Cultures

What can schools do to better recruit and retain teachers of color? The Teach Plus and the Center for Black Educator Development research, “To Be Who We Are: Black Teachers on Creating Affirming School Cultures,” based on 102 Black and African-American teacher perspectives, provides an actionable synthesis of the necessary school conditions to better recruit, grow, and retain more educators of color, particularly Black teachers. This report serves as a key resource to the national One Million Teachers of Color campaign, has been downloaded over 1,400 times by educators, policymakers, funders, and community members, and is cited widely in the media. This research helps drive Teach Plus’s work with a dozen school districts from across the country, impacting over 500,000 students and 30,000 teachers through the Equity Leadership Institute

Complementing existing quantitative research, this educator-led seminal work provides a rich understanding of what’s needed to support and retain Black and African-American teachers from the unique perspective of those who are most directly impacted: Black and African-American teachers. These best practices and tools created by the Center for Black Educator Development and Teach Plus teacher leader-driven recommendations and solutions are now used by activists, advocates, and education leaders.

The Education Trust

Beyond the Ban: A Toolkit for Advancing College Opportunity for Justice-Impacted Students

Led by the inaugural cohort of the Justice Fellows Policy Program, The Education Trust, in partnership with local higher education and justice advocates, conducted comprehensive policy scans in eight states with the highest concentrations of incarcerated individuals — California, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. The result is an actionable set of “Beyond the Ban” policy toolkits that identify unjust barriers keeping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals from accessing a higher education and benefiting from it and participating fully in society. The toolkits provide detailed program and policy information on each state, as well as recommendations calling on elected officials — governors, state legislators, heads of statewide higher education and corrections departments, and others — to immediately remove these barriers and enact more civil and humane policies. Congressional delegates can also use their influence at the state level to make a positive impact. The toolkits also include advocacy tools and resources (e.g., op-ed writing guide, power mapping template) for those pushing for change.

Thomas B. Fordham Institute

How to Sell SEL: Parents and the Politics of Social-Emotional Learning

The mental-health challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic have greatly deepened the need to better support students’ social and emotional needs as they acquire cognitive skills and knowledge. Last August, the Fordham Institute released findings from a nationally representative poll of 2,000 parents of children in grades K–12 on the topic of social and emotional learning, and parent perspectives on SEL. The study provided much-needed insight into how not to mishandle communication about SEL, which could derail good work and good intentions. It has been viewed more than 26,000 times, been featured in the news almost 40 times, and has impacted discussions with advocates and policymakers in a wide variety of states such as Idaho, Ohio, and Minnesota, and with diverse groups including the SEL Providers Association, the National Governor’s Association, CASEL, AASA, and the Committee for Children. Linda Darling-Hammond cited the report before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies’ hearing on “Social and Emotional Learning and Whole Child Approaches in K–12 Education.” The study was also rated the #1 study of 2021 according to George Lucas’s education team: https://www.edutopia.org/article/10-most-significant-education-studies-202.

See a complete list of 2022 nominees in all Eddies categories.

Ashley Schmidt

Ashley Schmidt

Managing Director, Communications & Member Engagement