Today, coherence is a growing movement to create more equitable school systems. Coherence takes an organization wide and system wide perspective to identifying problems and solutions, prioritizes collaboration and communication between stakeholders and builds an intentional focus on equity into processes and decisions.
The Coherence Lab offers programs where education leaders can learn about and engage with coherence including the Coherence Lab Initiative, Coherence Lab Academy and Coherence Lab Intensive. In these programs, education leaders work with coaches to develop skills that they can take and integrate into their agency to improve how they tackle fragmentation.
IF we support the leaders of states and large districts to lead coherently by focusing and collaborating on key priorities, cultivating trust among diverse stakeholders, and building an intentional focus on equity into processes and decisions…
THEN state and district leaders will be able to develop solutions to complex problems and scale and sustain changes that inspire, empower and support educators…
SO THAT school leaders and teachers champion shared priorities and policies, and will be equipped to lead continuous improvement in their schools which will improve student experiences and outcomes, particularly for those who have been historically marginalized.
Professional development pathways to support your equitable coherence journey
In 2017, Education First and the Aspen Institute Education & Society Program decided to address fragmentation in public education. Together, they created the Coherence Lab Fellowship (CLF), a practical solution to connect state education agencies with the mindsets, skills, tools and processes to address systemic barriers to coherence. In partnership with Equity Meets Design and their founder, Christine Ortiz, they incorporated equitable design thinking into the Coherence Framework and the Fellowship experience. The inaugural cohort of the fellowship was launched in 2018. In 2019, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), joined the project team and they launched a second cohort of the fellowship.
The Coherence Lab builds on the successes of the fellowship while strengthening the community and tackling the coherence challenge. Built by insights of fellowship alumni and an intensive strategic planning process centered around the needs of the education field, the Lab supports more entry points for exploring coherence to transform the culture and increase equity at state and local education agencies.
Leaders are coming together to address problems in a new way, replacing underlying barriers and silos with clarity and shared priorities.
Our project team’s experiences as education practitioners, and experience developing and implementing policy informed our belief that the solution to fragmentation would not just be a technical, infrastructure fix. An effective solution would have to account for human behavior within the system.
We conducted original interviews with parents, teachers, principals, school and local education agency leaders, using both formal and informal qualitative interview techniques, to understand how change happens in social sectors.
We discovered that in order to create a system of collaboration and integration amongst education agencies, leaders need to develop skills that inspire coordination and tear down silos in organizations. The Coherence Lab aims to do just that, offering resources and professional development opportunities for leaders at both the local and state levels.