MSSP launched fifteen years ago when we took on a grant funded challenge to address learning opportunities for urban students by developing local school models in partnership with eight school districts, each school designed for the learning needs of the community. Each model was intended to be unique, designed by local teams, with a set of common attributes to guide design thinking and implementation outcomes. Each of those schools opened successfully, a few are still operating today, while others faded with the funding and priority tides in their districts. In the years before that, we started our state’s first internet based school in Federal Way, Washington. While Seattle is still home, we have spent much of the past fifteen years working with schools and organizations across the country under the name of that original project – the Model Secondary Schools Project, though our focus has expanded to improving learning opportunities for students at all levels of their education from kindergarten to college.
We are now launching a new version of our organization with a new name – MSSP Solutions – with the intent of reaching farther in our efforts to improve learning opportunities for all students. Much of what we have learned is related to the shifting challenges of teaching and the capacity development needs of organizations that support learning. Much has changed and we have had an extraordinary opportunity to grow as our education systems have grappled with the social, cultural and technical shifts that have occurred. We work as change agents in classrooms, schools and organizations, our efforts focused on helping develop local capacity to respond adaptively to the current challenges facing us in education.
We started as teachers, and now we see the role of teachers and the impact of teaching decisions receiving much-needed attention. “Accountability” has received substantial attention over the past decade and is now shifting from improving test scores to improving opportunities for learners. The old adopted curriculum mandates are being replaced by expectations for equity in addressing learning performance. Not that testing has gone away, and we do not expect it too, but we do advocate, along with many others, for equity in learning opportunities and adaptive methods in every classroom as the new face of teaching. This goal of achieving equity in learning for all students is bringing new opportunities to teachers and school leaders. Our classroom doors are no longer closed – we learn and teach in a world where many if not most students and their teachers have access to the vast library of lightly cataloged learning resources and opportunities housed on the internet.
We have much to do, and we hope much to offer, in approaching this goal of learning equity. On our new website we plan to share the resources we find and create, as well as our thoughts and progress on these efforts, and we hope to hear from you.