At the Raikes Foundation, we believe that all young people should have access to rich, supportive and challenging educational experiences that affirm who they are and prepare them to thrive as adults in family, community and career.
While we’ve made progress as a country in raising high school graduation rates, race and class remain the most reliable predictors of students’ educational outcomes at a time when our school system and our nation are becoming more diverse. In fact, the post-secondary completion gaps by race and income have increased over the last several decades.
Why? The education system we have today is a relic of another era. It was designed to provide the quality educational experience every young person needs to only a privileged few, sorting and tracking young people on the basis of their sex, their race and their family’s income. And while that system is no longer overt, its legacy remains. So how do we create an education system that serves all young people well? Results over the past two decades show us that we can’t address educational disparities simply by increasing rigor and focusing on teacher quality. Standards are important but they don’t address how and why children learn and the environments that help them thrive.
The science of learning and development is showing us the way. Many of the lessons this research teaches us reinforces what we learn when we listen to the voices of underserved students and their families and the educators who work with them. It is time to reimagine an education system that is responsive to the needs and experiences of all young people, particularly students of color and those from low-income backgrounds. Investing in an equitable education system is one of the most important contributions we can make to help create a more just and economically viable society.
The science of learning and development reveals that while what students learn is important, the environment adults create to support them is essential to their success as adults. When schools affirm students' identities, surround them with supportive relationships, help them explore what they value, encourage them to recognize their strengths and skills, and make the connection between what students do in school and their lives and a purpose beyond themselves, all students can learn and achieve. When students are valued and respected as individuals and are not reduced to a stereotype, they persist in school, learn deeply and become lifelong learners.
The right school environment can help enable the learning mindsets and skills that allow all students to be successful. Students have learning mindsets when they know that intelligence grows with mental effort, understand that struggling with new challenges is a normal part of the learning process, can relate lessons to their own lives, and believe that they belong and can succeed in the classroom. Learning mindsets work hand in hand with educational skills such as time management, goal setting, and knowing when to ask for help. Together, learning mindsets and skills give students the beliefs, tools and habits they need to learn more of the content they are taught, seek out new challenges and persist through them.
Invest in the Science of Learning and Development. We fund research on how young people learn, develop and thrive and work to translate it into the classroom. Our investment in the Mindset Scholars Network is building the evidence and insights about how students’ psychological experience of school matters to their learning and life outcomes. In addition to funding basic science, we also work with researchers to design and test strategies and measures that teachers and schools can use to create classrooms that will foster engaging, growth-oriented, meaningful and equitable learning environments.
Redesigning Schools and Systems. We believe deep and meaningful change in our education system will only happen at the intersection of the perspectives of learning scientists, educators, young people and their communities. We support powerful networks that engage and integrate diverse perspectives to redesign schools and systems that work for all young people. The Raikes Foundation created the Building Equitable Learning Environments (BELE) Network to bring together a diverse group of organizations that are already working with schools to use the science of learning and development to improve outcomes for students of color and low-income students. We also support the College Transition Collaborative and Project for Education Research that Scales to help post-secondary institutions implement interventions and make institutional changes that will enable students to persist and complete college.
Create the Conditions. To ensure our public education system promotes opportunity for all we need education policies and educator preparation that foster equitable learning environments. We invest to support communities, educators and policymakers as they create policies that leverage the science of learning and development to advance equity. We also support field building efforts to advance the science of learning and development and its application in education.
When Carol Dweck was working on her doctorate in social and developmental psychology at Yale University, she became intrigued with a fundamental question about education: Why do some students give up in the face of failure, while others thrive?
“I was interested in how children coped with difficulty and setbacks,” Dweck recalled. “Some of the children as I expected folded and thought it was the end of the world. Others looked like I was giving them a gift. They said things like, ‘I love a challenge,’ ‘I was hoping this would be informative,’ or ‘mistakes are our friend.’ And I thought, where are these kids from, Mars? I’m failing them! And yet they were relishing it. And benefiting from it.
“Then and there,” Dweck said, “I swore that I would uncover their secret, bottle it and give it to the world.”
The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research offers a developmental framework that synthesizes decades of research evidence, practice wisdom, and theory to capture a holistic view of children’s developmental needs from early childhood to young adulthood. This includes consideration of the role agency and mindsets play in healthy youth development.Read More
There has been perennial interest in personal qualities other than cognitive ability that determine success, including self control, grit, growthIn th mind-set, and many others. Attempts to measure such qualities for the purposes of educational policy and practice, however, are more recent. In this article, mindset scholars David Yeager and Angela Duckworth identify and discuss challenges to this measurement.Read More
Conducted by Harvard University's Ron Ferguson and his colleagues, this analysis of more than 300,000 Tripod surveys across 16,000 sixth and ninth grade classrooms offers an unparalleled look at how teachers can develop agency in their students.Read More
Camille Farrington of the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research explores the role of noncognitive skills in students’ school performance and educational attainment. The report was created in partnership with the Lumina Foundation and the Raikes Foundation.Read More
The application of learning mindsets to increase the participation of low-income students and students of color in rigorous high school Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs.
Support for the development and management of the Student Agency Improvement Community (SAIC), a networked community that currently includes four nodes: NYC Public Schools, Seattle Community College, Summit Charter Schools, and Harrisonburg City Schools in Virginia.
Support for the development and management of the Mindset Scholars Network, an interdisciplinary network of scholars and experts conducting groundbreaking research on mindsets and their effect on learning outcomes.
Support for the Project for Education that Scales (PERTS) Mindset Challenge, a partnership between researchers and online learning providers to rapidly prototype mindset interventions that promote better learner outcomes.
Support for a demonstration project to bring the Mindset Works curriculum, Brainology, and its Educator Toolkit to District of Columbia middle schools.
Support for Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research’s Becoming Effective Learners (BEL) survey measures, a research project to develop high-quality measures of non-cognitive factors.