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POLS Students' Projects

Your Signature on Your Vote-By-Mail Ballot is Important!

Ali Bloomgarden

Many vote-by-mail ballots across the United States are not counted due to a problem with verifying a voter’s signature on their ballot, called a signature mismatch. Signature verification is the process of comparing the signature on a voter’s vote-by-mail ballot with that voter’s signature in their state’s voter registration system. If the signature on a voter’s ballot does not match one in the system, the ballot is either challenged or rejected. In 19 states, if a ballot is challenged for signature discrepancy, the state requires registrars to notify the voter of the mismatch and provide an option to fix the signature so the vote can, ultimately, be counted. In 31 states, if there is a signature mismatch, the state does not require that voters be notified and be given the option to remedy their signature, and the ballot is rejected and the vote is not counted. This webinar is made for all eligible and registered voters to learn about the importance of their signature on a vote-by-mail ballot. Given the national push to vote by mail in light of COVID-19, it is critical, now more than ever, that voters know the importance of their signature on their vote-by-mail ballot, so we can all vote with confidence

Kelly Branning

Understanding Wu Yee and The Primary School’s Partnership to Strengthen Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Kelly Branning

This report was compiled for The Primary School’s San Francisco Early Childhood Education team with the goal of understanding the implementation of the Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative at Wu Yee Children’s Services center in San Francisco. The report was informed by qualitative interviews with individuals across Wu Yee sites, including the Kirkwood location that is piloting a new mental health consultation model. Ultimately, the report finds that program implementation varied greatly from site to site, with the most success reported out of the Kirkwood pilot of the new model.

Characteristics, Competencies and Core Values of Successful Design Thinking Schools

Marlee Burns and Haley Hemm

Prepared for the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching, this comprehensive booklet outlines the characteristics, competencies and core values of successful design thinking schools. A qualitative approach allowed us to gather meaningful information from four design thinking schools, including public and private and ranging from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Our recommendations are rooted and linked to evidence from each of the schools. This extensive document provides both depth and breadth for those considering starting a design thinking school or for those who would like to reflect on their current model. Design thinking provides a unique lens to the world of education and offers meaningful insights and applications for educators everywhere.

Hollyhock Leading Fellows (HLF) Capacity Building Framework for Teacher Leadership

Jen Calder

The Hollyhock Leading Fellows (HLF) Capacity Building Framework for Teacher Leadership maps the core challenge, targeted capacities and outcomes of the HLF program. The framework charts the HLF program path from the core challenges it endeavors to meet, the capacity targets that fellows develop, and the outcomes they can expect to see. It is based on existing teacher leadership, educational equity and capacity building research as well as the HLF processes, practices and artifacts. It serves as a means to communicate clearly how fellows can benefit from their participation in the program, and to situate the HLF within the field of teacher leadership development.

Venture Capital in Education: A Literature Review on the Structure of VC

Serena Cervantes

For my POLS project, I partnered with Professor Kathryn Moeller to create a literature review and glossary mapping out the overall structure of the venture capital world – the history behind venture capital, its funding structures, and the levers of power and influence in venture capital. Because of the lack of research in education on the topic of venture capital, this literature review and glossary serve as an exploration of how venture capital fits into the political economy of education so we can better understand the effects of corporate power on education. 

3 Lessons Schools Can Learn From Startups

Hannah Chia

Working with Entangled.Group was a true privilege and eye-opening experience. “3 Lessons Schools Can Learn From Startups” captures my reflections on this experience and the other two documents are samples of the work I completed.

Evaluating and Strengthening EPAAF’s Mentorship Program to Support First-Gen, Low-Income College Students

Jimin Choi and Praveen Loganathan

How can mentorship programs help students thrive in college? In 2019, East Palo Alto Academy Foundation (EPAAF) launched a Mentorship program to support first-generation college students. This project evaluates the effectiveness of EPAAF’s mentorship program and identifies pathways to help students thrive in college. The attached presentation highlights the strategic review of EPAAF and the Mentorship program, recommendations to strengthen the program, and opportunities to better support first-gen college students.

10,000 Degrees Project

Belen Gutierrez

My project was to support the implementation study of the 10,000 Degrees non-profit in San Francisco through the John Gardner Center. Throughout Winter and Spring quarters I updated literature on college success indicators for students that aligned with and validated the support and services that 10,000 Degrees provides to students. Much of the research also included the partnerships and support needed for students at a community college and included factors such as student social-emotional well-being and basic needs (e.g. housing and food security.) I was able to update indicators on the current College Success Grid, which was formed during the CRIS study and have been able to expand research to include new documents that have been published within the last 3-5 years. In hope my portion of the ongoing implementation study will hopefully provide validation of the services that 10,000 Degrees and support in their expansion efforts in the Bay Area and different parts of California.

Continuous Improvement in Practice: Findings from Schools and Districts in California

Lauren Hogan and Maira Martinez

Prepared for Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), this research brief reports effective strategies that enable continuous improvement capacities at the school and district levels. Through comprehensive analysis of case studies and interviews with school leaders, this brief highlights salient practices that are visible within four lenses of continuous improvement. The findings of this report can be shared with instructional leaders who are hoping to utilize improvement science within their organizations and can be replicated or adjusted given different school or district contexts.

SWAG: Where Practice Meets Research

Joshua Jordan

As a research intern with the Students with Amazing Goals (SWAG) Research Team at the John Gardner Center, I was privileged to complete three deliverables: a literature review exploring successful school-community partnerships, the development of a youth survey, and a review of the SWAG theory of change. This experience revealed the importance of relationship-building in school-community collaborations, especially research-practice partnerships.

The Donor Support Ecosystem: A Sketch

Yoon-Chan Kim

During winter of 2020, the Effective Philanthropy Learning Initiative at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society interviewed fifteen professionals from fifteen unique organizations in the donor support ecosystem to gain insight into the philanthropic practices of donors from those who work closely with them and to better understand the role these donor support professionals themselves play in shaping the trajectory of philanthropy. This report tries to articulate what was learned and sketch the conditions of a growing donor support ecosystem. It is preliminary not yet an official publication of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. The lab plans to deepen the investigation to expand our findings in the coming months.

California Special Education Fiscal Analysis Study

Hillary Knudson

My POLS project was in support of WestEd’s fiscal policy analysis study on special education in California. This study was commissioned by Governor Newsom to understand the complexity of special education funding and determine opportunities for alignment and improved methodology. I served as a contributing author and researcher for the Phase I Report with a focus on state-to-state comparisons, fiscal monitoring, and charter school policy. My final deliverable included a slide deck detailing the scope of the project and my own role, as well as the published report (July 2020).

Talent Lifecycle Design

Carmen Krefft and Elizabeth Tish

In partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, we developed a repository of skills, behaviors, and dispositions that every staff member should exhibit. This matrix will better inform professional development, performance evaluation, and hiring processes as the organization strives to improve their staff coaching practices.

Hiring and Recruiting Continuation School Teachers: Initial Findings from an Examination of Three Urban California Districts

Alex Kuehn

Teachers in California’s continuation high schools work with student populations that are markedly different from those in comprehensive schools in the same district. Yet, little research exists on how principals and administrators recruit and hire teachers to work in these settings. This report presents initial findings from qualitative interviews with six continuation school principals and administrators on the topic of teacher recruitment and hiring in continuation schools. Principals and administrators use a continuation school’s reputation, contractual language, and targeted credentialing as strategies for recruiting teachers. Among other qualities, they prioritize teachers’ personality characteristics and their ability to implement engaging instruction when interviewing candidates. Finally, principals and administrators use interviews, openness about the nature of the teaching role, and school perception as mechanisms to hire teachers who will be able to be successful. These findings, while not generalizable, offer insight into opportunities for further research.

What’s in a Coaching Call? Analysis of Teacher-Leadership Program Coaching Calls at Stanford’s Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET)

Chris Lacopo

Analysis of over 400 minutes of virtual coaching calls between coaches at Stanford’s Center to Support Excellence in Teaching and emerging teacher-leaders yielded insight into the essence of transformative mentoring of adults. A new teacher-leader, who is often awkwardly situated between administration and faculty, faces many challenges. The coach, whose work is founded on trust and sense of partnership, must be deeply engaged and should infuse mentoring sessions with support, constructive critique, and empathy.

Building Cooperative Models in Higher Education

Ana Machado

Since the beginning of the last century, co-operative models in Higher Education are partnership models that connect universities and hiring organizations, with the main objective of integrating learning and working. There are three stakeholders with convergent, but often divergent, interests in this relationship: students, Higher Education institutions, and employers. This paper conducted a literature review on the topic to create a framework for building new models of co-operative programs that balance the different perspectives of all the involved parties.

The Healing Power of Nature: Increasing Access to East Bay Regional Parks’ Health Benefits for Oakland’s Diverse Residents

Clare McLaughlin and Meg Pantell

The East Bay Regional Park system (EBRP) is an expansive natural space in Oakland, a racially and economically diverse urban community in California. This study interviewed local park visitors to understand the perceived health and wellness benefits of Reinhardt Regional Park (a park location within the EBRP system) as well as visitors’ perception of the park’s engagement with the local community. Study participants (n=15) noted extensive physiological and psychological health and wellness benefits of the park, and also noted potential barriers to access, which hinder some community members from experiencing these benefits. EBRP’s position as the largest regional park system in the United States, its location within a diverse urban community, and its history and current vision for community engagement create a nexus of opportunity for EBRP to be leveraged as a powerful public resource for health and wellness.

Shared Responsibility: Higher Education in Prison Programs Evaluations Analysis (expanding on Ithaka S+R’s Unbarring Access report)

Paola Mora Paredes and Camila Moreno-Jimenez

With the expansion of post-secondary education programs in prisons, there is a lack of a reliable infrastructure to evaluate them. This project is aimed “to develop a more robust research and data infrastructure for evaluating the quality and impacts of higher education in prison programs.” The report sets a historical context to explain the current politics regarding higher education in prison programs. This is followed by a landscape overview with Ithaka S+R’s ​Unbarring Access ​ report, and current evaluation practices at various levels including ​single program, statewide, and meta-analysis​. The report concludes by recommending some frameworks that programs can utilize to best support incarcerated students.

Integrating Indigenous Peacemaking in the Academy

Niyo Moraza-Keeswood

This toolkit serves as an introduction to the Indigenous practice of Peacemaking. It provides foundational knowledge for individuals, communities, and organizations who are considering building alternative processes to address harm, violence, difference, decision making, and community building. This resource discusses various systems of Indigenous conflict resolution; explores application in diverse settings, and presents an introduction to peacemaking circle facilitation. This toolkit was made in collaboration with the Native American Cultural Center, Stanford University.

Can Design Thinking Reduce STEM Gender Gaps in Japan?

Miwa Okajima

Can design thinking experience increase the female students’ interests and motivation and provide the nudge they need to consider STEM professionals, innovators, and entrepreneurs?” SKY Labo, a non-profit education social venture explores this hypothesis by providing 3-day workshops to Japanese students since 2016. The results from the pre- and post-intervention surveys informed that the short intervention has a strong positive influence on the female students’ mindsets, self-images, and perceptions towards STEM, innovation, and entrepreneurship, while gender norms and negative attitudes towards failure remains to be persistent.

Need a Nudge? Findings and Recommendations From an Analysis of the Academy Nudging Platform

Eric Saito

This project was in partnership with StraighterLine, a subscription-based, low-cost online college credit provider. StraighterLine sought to improve the efficacy of its automated platform of nudge message emails, with the ultimate aim of improving course completion rates. This project provides a review and executive summary of the existing literature regarding nudge messaging and adult learning. The findings were then used to create a nudge message criteria/checklist. Finally, the checklist was used to evaluate all 44 messages in the StraighterLine Academy nudge message platform. Eight messages from that platform were targeted for an A-B test. These messages were edited and improved based on the checklist. The findings, summary, and sample emails were arranged in a slide deck presentation and presented to the StraighterLine C-suite.

Networked Improvement Community for Students with Disabilities: Lessons from the 2020-2021 School Year

Thibaut Delloue

Nationwide, students with disabilities represent 13.7% of all enrolled students — totaling almost 7 million students in the 2017-18 school year. Our country’s education system is not meeting the needs of these students, particularly when their disabilities are coupled with other factors like poverty and race. When marginalization intersects with disability, students often face low expectations and segregation and are denied access to higher education and other postsecondary options. Marshall Street currently supports a multi-year Networked Improvement Community (NIC) of school organizations from across the country. Their goal is to use the principles of Continuous Improvement to make dramatic gains for Black and Latinx students with disabilities experiencing poverty. The following briefs document the efforts of three Charter Management Organizations during the 2020-2021 school year to begin the Continuous Improvement process.

Restorative Restart: The Path Towards Reimagining and Rebuilding Schools

Sergio Diaz Luna

After more than a year of strictly virtual or physically distant participation in school, students are in need of a restorative restart—an opportunity to feel safe, seen, supported, and engaged in learning. The objective should not be to put back into place the previous practices that led to inequities but rather to reimagine and rebuild a system that supports all students with a focus on equity. During the 2021–22 school year, education leaders, educators, and other stakeholders have the potential to reimagine and rebuild schools. They can not only reverse the effects of pandemic-induced lost learning opportunities but also lay the groundwork for systemic transformation by using evidence-based, whole child approaches to advance learning and engagement for all students.

This report builds upon the April 2021 brief Reimagine and Rebuild California Schools: Restarting School with Equity at the Center, which was endorsed by over 40 California-based family and student engagement organizations, associations representing educators and system leaders, research institutes, and civil rights and equity groups. The report summarizes the evidence undergirding the brief and presents concrete practices to guide implementation.

Coaching Co-Teachers: Learnings from a Networked Improvement Community to Support Students With Disabilities

Sam Eiseman

For my POLS project, I partnered with Marshall Street's Continuous Improvement team to codify learnings from their Networked Improvement Community for Students With Disabilities. This brief focuses on coaching co-teachers, and includes best practices, things to consider, and a breakdown of different coaching models to choose between. In addition, the brief contains resources that districts and charter management organizations (CMOs) can use to support instructional coaches in this work. The guidance in this brief comes from the learnings of multiple CMOs as they executed PDSA cycles over the course of the 2020-21 school year.

Beyond the Virus: Highlighting the Experiences of Disadvantaged Youth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Rob Heavner

This document contains two works that I created during my time a as team member at the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities. I spent twenty weeks working as a thought partner and team member on the Gardner Center’s research practice partnership with the East Palo Alto based organization, Live in Peace. Pages 3-16 of this document contain a literature review on the effects of Covid-19 on disadvantaged youth. One unpublished source from the Gardner center was removed to maintain privacy. On pages 17-19, is the focus group protocol that I created with input and collaboration from the Gardner Center team. The protocol will be used by the Gardner Center in June 2021. Since the project is ongoing, the Focus Group Protocol has been anonymized to maintain efficacy. The development of the protocol was guided by the literature review and the results from a survey that the Gardner Center team implemented during the early months of 2021. Both documents have been and will continue to be used to help the Gardner Center analyze the strengths of Live in Peace’s Students Who Achieve Greatness (SWAG) program.

Redwood City Together / Stanford University Case Study

Lange Luntao

In the Redwood City and Fair Oaks neighborhoods, Redwood City Together (RWCT) works to build a collective action agenda that promotes improvement in the areas of education, childcare, and family mental health and wellness. This case study focuses on 1) Redwood City Together’s approach to collective impact, 2) the recent history of the initiative and selected relevant accomplishments over the past year, and 3) current status and opportunities for growth in Redwood City Together’s relationship with Stanford University. Particularly in the context of the opening of the Stanford Redwood CIty campus, this case study asks: how might Stanford, as one among many community partners, continue to partner in an authentic and useful way with the work of RWCT?

COHERENCE FROM THE TOP: HOW INVESTING IN SCHOOL BOARDS MATTERS TO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Briana Mullen

We have potentially missed an important piece of the puzzle that is necessary when considering how to create the conditions for learning at the greatest number of schools possible; the people democratically elected to govern our schools. Whether or not the current governance system is highly effective or requires reform are questions that I will put aside for the moment.2 These governance bodies have an outsized effect on the conditions and context in which teachers work & students learn. Not engaging with this group of policymakers & school-community liaisons leave room for confusion and lack of clarity of what constitutes high-quality boardship3 in the system. This paper argues for the investment in professional learning for school boards by describing 5 key dimmenions of successful board members.

Financial Literacy and Career Readiness: Program Design for East Palo Alto Academy Foundation Scholars

Will Paisley

Students from East Palo Alto Academy have fewer resources than students at surrounding South Bay Area high schools, which necessitates the foundation’s work. 95% of their students qualify for free and reduced lunch and 75% are English language learners. The foundation’s team focuses mainly on financially supporting students through scholarships but hopes to expand its impact through other programming. Development of a financial literacy and career readiness program is EPAAF’s next step to expanding its offerings. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a pause in the organization’s physical programming with students and this project serves to create a foundational plan for implementation in the coming academic year and beyond. Fostering a new generation of diverse and successful individuals with higher education degrees is of great importance to advancing issues of social and racial equity in American society. EPAAF’s work is community based for the underserved students of East Palo Alto who are predominantly people of color. Equipping these students with the tools necessary to succeed will only benefit society through servicing the needs of underserved populations. Overall, this POLS project is part of a thoughtful long-range planning process to sketch a multi-year sequence of events, which will foster scholars’ career readiness and financial literacy throughout their undergraduate experience.

Identifying Shared Teacher Mindsets to Define Best Learner-Centered Practices

Lily Rosenthal

A literature review and qualitative study were done to define learner-centered design. For the qualitative research, five teachers were interviewed to determine shared mindsets and best learner-centered practices. The deliverable is a guide for teachers to understand learner-centered design and utilize best practices in their classrooms.

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