Improving education opportunities for students has always been at the heart of the work of KnowledgeWorks. Though our mission has shifted slightly since our founding in 2000, as has the way we deliver services to adapt to current trends and needs, our focus has remained the same.
Learn more about the history of KnowledgeWorks:
When KnowledgeWorks was founded, all efforts were focused on improving opportunities and access for underserved populations. We created and networked college access programs so that more people could realize the lifelong benefits of continuing their education beyond high school.
We also focused on low-wage workers and other adults who could use education as a springboard to better jobs. Our workforce development included the reorganization of adult education in Ohio so it became easier for workers to acquire new skills, as well as the creation of career pathway programs that pointed workers toward fields with growing demand.
We fostered community involvement in the planning of new school facilities to ensure that designs for new buildings would use the best research and apply community priorities to all decisions. We ensured longevity by building critical expertise in supporting policy changes to sustain these initiatives.
Creating better schools and learning communities
Access is critical. But access alone isn’t enough. Access doesn’t ensure the level of opportunity and accomplishment that we envisioned for every student. The quality of schools is a tremendous barrier to success, so we focused on improving urban high schools, with a special emphasis on creating small learning environments.
In 2004, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others, we created 35 small high schools in eight urban school districts and opened six early college high schools in partnership with universities.
These efforts impacted 50,000 students and trained more than 2,000 teachers in Ohio’s urban school districts. And the results have been dramatic – increasing graduation rates, improvement on test scores and students earning large numbers of college credits while still in high school.
KnowledgeWorks optimized the school improvement models behind this success by providing curriculum and instruction, supportive high school culture, aligned assessments and comprehensive student support.
At the same time, we focused on the need to create school systems that supported students from birth to career and created our community-based subsidiary StrivePartnership.
College and career readiness through personalized learning
You can’t prepare students for college and the careers of tomorrow without understanding what the future will require from our children. Since 2006, we have been engaged in a disciplined study of the trends shaping the future of education. We started developing forecasts of the future of learning, such as our most recent one, “The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code.”
We came to see that our factory-era education system had to be turned on its head. Instead of focusing on the needs of the institution and handing down information from on high, schools needed to respond to the needs of the learner and allow them to discover knowledge through hands-on experiences.
We began working to transform our outdated system of schooling into one that is focused on each individual student,
- 2001: Acquired New Tech Network, a school-based organization that helped established schools with project-based learning environments across the country
- 2002: Created EDWorks to run the Ohio High School Transformation Initiative (OHSTI), a statewide effort focused on providing a high-quality high school education for students in some of Ohio’s most underserved communities
- 2006: Published the first Future Forecast, “Map of Future Forces,” which looked at the future of learning
- 2006: Established StrivePartnership, a community-based organization in the Cincinnati area focused on supporting students from Cradle to Career
- 2007: Awarded $7.4 million from the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation to strengthen the work of the OHSTI
- 2010: Published the second Future Forecast, “2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning,” which revealed how our fundamental relationships were being reimagined and recreated in ways that would disrupt the status quo
- 2010: Expanded the reach of StrivePartnership by forming a national organization called StriveTogether, which helped create communities focused on collective impact
- 2012: Published the third Future Forecast, “Forecast 3.0: Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem,” which previewed five disruptions that would reshape learning over the next decade and laid the groundwork for an increased focus on personalized learning
- 2012: Published “Transforming to a World of Learning: A Federal Policy Agenda," which informs thought leaders about the policy conditions critical to a world of learning
- 2013: Published “High School Race to the Top: 10 Essential Elements for High School Reform and College and Career Ready Success,” which provides an overview of the 10 Essential Elements for high school reform as well as real-world examples from schools and educators working to implement these innovative concepts
- 2013: Published a policy beief, “Competency Education Brief 1: An Emerging Federal Role for Competency Education,” which includes a working definition for competency education, examples of states doing the ground breaking work in this area and an appropriate role for the federal government to remove policy barriers and to create diagnostic and assessment tools to measure effectiveness
- 2014: Spun off New Tech Network as a standalone organization focused on continuing and expanding its success with project-based learning
- 2014: Partnered with iNACOL to publish “A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education,” which provides federal policymakers and advocates with comprehensive, big-picture ideas for transforming federal policy to support the transition to competency-based learning
- 2014: Published “District Conditions for Scale: A Practical Guide for Scaling Personalized Learning,” which identifies the conditions for scale that exist at a district level
- 2015: Published our fourth Future Forecast, “The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code,” which explored provocations at the intersection of three impact layers and five drivers of change
- 2015: Published “Recommendations for Reauthorization of ESEA: High School Reform, Collective Impact, and Competency Education”
- 2015: Published “A State Policy Framework for Scaling Personalized Learning,” which guides states and districts in working together to create flexibility to support scaling personalized learning.
- 2016: Published a side-by-side comparison of No Child Left Behind and ESSA called “New Opportunities to Advance Personalized Learning in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)”
- 2016: EDWorks subsumed into the KnowledgeWorks offerings for personalizing learning in schools using competency-based education and early college high school
- 2016: Published “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers,” based on interviews with teachers, instructional coaches and principals across the country
- 2016: Partnered with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment (Center for Assessment) to create “A Visioning Toolkit for Better Assessments,” which helps stakeholders explore new assessment provisions under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and deepen their understanding of assessment models that are now possible under the law
- 2016: Published “Embracing the Opportunity: Recommendations for Scaling Personalized Learning Under a New Presidential Administration,” which provides four sets of federal recommendations for enabling personalized learning at scale, including detailed strategies to help the Administration create a robust education policy platform
- 2017: Released an interactive map, “ESSA and Personalized Learning: State by State. A Nationwide Look at State Strategies to Advance Personalized Learning”
- 2017: Spun off StriveTogether as a standalone organization focused on continuing and expanding its success with collective impact