Analysis and Engagement

Through our Analysis and Engagement efforts, the Fund provides an independent lens into education issues and needs for the Baltimore community. Our studies combine strong analytics with significant community input to address some of the most pressing problems facing our students. By marrying student, parent and community voices with qualitative local data and research on national best practices, we provide a nuanced understanding of current issues in our public schools.

We focus on identifying opportunities to improve student achievement and community satisfaction, and then work closely with community and district partners on ways to implement recommendations found in our studies. Our efforts are guided by an advisory committee ̶ made up of parents, teachers, and community leaders ̶ that meets on a quarterly basis to shape future studies, and provide guidance and direction for projects underway.

Recent studies include:

  • Broken Pathways: The Cracks in Career and Technical Education in Baltimore City Public Schools. Following interviews with nearly 140 former City Schools students and current teachers, Broken Pathways gives voice to students who were promised “a leg up toward an in-demand, well-paid career.” Their experiences too often do not align with that promise. This report reveals an inflexible program lacking promised hands-on experiences and career advising, and makes practical, specific recommendations for restructuring the CTE program to better support student success.
  • Calculated Choices: Equity and Opportunity in Baltimore City Public Schools pairs analysis of access to advanced academic programs in the middle grades – and the implications for high school admission – with student and parent perspectives on public school choice in Baltimore City. What we heard from students and parents about what they want in their schools and how they find the right school fit mirrors the reality of inequitable access on the ground. Recommendations for addressing these challenges include expanded access to advanced academic programming and more and better information earlier in a student’s education.
  • Building a Bright Future: Understanding College Readiness in Baltimore City Public Schools takes a close look at college readiness in Baltimore City.  What we learned from conversations with 225 individuals in 27 focus groups is that for our students, college-readiness requires strong, rigorous academic preparation as well as focused supports to help with social/emotional development, college guidance, and financial literacy. Based on a survey of the available research, the report also includes a map of college readiness indicators from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade that educators, students and parents could use to keep students on track.
    • To help meet parents and students need for relevant, reliable information about how to be college ready, we launched the B’More Ready website which also features video advice and first hand accounts from recent graduates about transitioning to college.
  • City Speaks: Community Voices on Baltimore Schools. Published in October, 2014, the report documents the findings of our city-wide listening campaign that engaged the community in defining priorities for our public schools. Taken together, the findings and key themes we heard from 859 participants in 63 conversations across all 55 Baltimore City communities paint a picture of what Baltimore residents most want for our students.

Our Analysis and Engagement work is centered around those levers we believe have the highest potential to improve outcomes: teacher effectiveness; school quality; college and career readiness; and parental access and involvement. A key component of this effort is engaging the larger Baltimore community in a public discussion around promising reforms including:

  • Examining pressing issues affecting educational quality in Baltimore;
  • Exploring promising policies and practices and any resulting gains from other districts;
  • Outlining policy and practice recommendations; and
  • Engaging with parents, students, the school district, and the larger community around these issues to drive the necessary changes.

To guide our efforts, the Fund has formed an advisory committee that meets on a quarterly basis to propose issues and challenges to explore, and to recommend analyses or projects that could result in heightened public awareness of what it will take to achieve an excellent education for all students in Baltimore City. The committee is made up of parents, students, teachers, and business and community leaders.