Sharing Lighthouse Learnings 

Lighthouse Schools serve as exemplars for other schools and districts in the state to look to as models of what works, what doesn’t, and what’s possible when it comes to implementing personalized instruction. We invite others to read more about how the Office of Innovation is evaluating these schools and tracking success, as well as what school teams themselves have to say about diving into their PL journey.

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Evaluation of Lighthouse Schools is supported by the Education Development Center (EDC). For Year 1 2017-2018, the purpose of the evaluation was to examine the implementation of Lighthouse Schools’ approaches to personalization schoolwide.

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Quantitative Methods

EDC serves in an advisory role for RIOI conducting quantitative analyses needed to address the following evaluation questions:

  1. Does the Lighthouse Schools grant affect student outcomes (i.e. achievement and engagement)?

  2. Does the Lighthouse Schools grant affect teacher outcomes (i.e., efficacy)?

For Question 1, student achievement is given by performance on local math and reading assessments, analyzing growth within the academic year, as well as effect size across academic years using a cohort comparison. Student engagement is measured by attendance, looking at both daily attendance rates and chronic absenteeism rates, as well as classroom observation data, and student responses to a state-administered culture and climate survey.

For Question 2, teacher efficacy is measured by classroom observation data and teacher responses to a state-administered culture and climate survey.

Qualitative Methods

EDC is also conducting three rounds of focus groups with administrators and educators directly involved in Lighthouse School implementation, including a superintendent, an assistant superintendent, three principals, and several teachers. In addition to collecting information about each school’s progress, successes, and challenges, the focus groups provide findings around the support and role of the Office of Innovation from 2017-2018 through 2018-2019.

Focus group findings have been most helpful in determining how our office can target additional or improved supports for Year 2, including dissemination help, budgetary support, and more networking. All three schools agree they could do this work without Lighthouse Challenge funding, but financial support allowed them to go further, faster.


Advice & Lessons Learned

Lighthouse School teams are forthcoming and open about both the successes and challenges they have encountered in their personalized learning implementation. For other schools and districts seeking to move forward with their own PL work, take a look and heed the recommendations from Lighthouse Schools below.


Create shared visions, connections, and commonalities

  • Have a shared vision of what the change is and have all stakeholders buy into that vision.

  • Connect the school initiative with the central office and with the other schools so it’s integrated across the district and not happening in isolation.

“There's this really interesting inclination for there to be a disconnect between the different layers in the school district. The schools are doing their own kind of thing. There's really not a big connection to the central office. Here, the difference that I see that I think is really powerful is that the principals are working together and they're helping support this so next year we have coaching to the same focus happening at our elementary schools.” – BMS Administrator

  • Have common language.

  • Create a common understanding of what PL is.

  • Work toward the same standard, but allow flexibility in doing so; allow teachers to have autonomy (or voice and choice) in making classroom decisions.

Foster collaboration and capacity building

  • Make time for adults to learn together.

  • Spread the workload; increase others’ capacity to help lead the initiative.

  • Build leaders around the different PL tenets and then diffuse that knowledge throughout the building.

  • Foster a school culture that embraces collaboration and change.



Stay grounded – focus on practice

  • Focus on the practice side of implementation, not just saying you’ll do something different, but actually doing it.

  • Make it less about education jargon and focus on solid examples of what it can look like, what it could be, and how it can meaningfully impact achievement and instruction.

Be wary of unintended consequences

  • Be cautious in regard to unintended consequences of PL.

“As more people select blended learning as a tool for personalizing learning [you have to be careful] because that doesn't fit every learner …now that more middle schools are doing it, it's actually increasing kids coming into ninth grade saying, ‘I just want to work by myself,’ when the 21st century is going to require you work together.

We're talking about how to make sure our ninth grade team is really setting a stage for what that means, what that looks like, how we create teams in the classroom. There's a time and place to work independently, but you also have to know how to work with other people successfully.” – 360 Administrator

  • Implement as best you can with what you have – you do not need a $200,000 grant to implement PL, though implementation may be a bit slower



Share and network

  • Share the discovery of what you’re doing (not just the successes) through networks or other means.

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