K-12 Systems Change – Digital Promise

K-12 Systems Change

In addition to studying powerful learning in classrooms, our research team examines the systems necessary to scale improvements across many classrooms, schools, and regions.

To enable change, we form partnerships with practitioners to investigate strategies, resources, norms, and routines that support educators to implement innovations effectively. This typically involves considering change at multiple levels (i.e., students, teachers, teacher leaders, and school and district leaders) and documenting the factors and processes that facilitate learning at each level, among adults as well as students.


  • Developing Inclusive K-12 Computing Pathways – Supported by the National Science Foundation, we are partnering with three League districts to design and research K-12 pathways that integrate computing into the core curriculum and give students a more consistent and cumulative learning experience. Now in Year #3, the CT Pathways Toolkit launched in January 2021 and is currently being piloted by a range of school districts. Each partner school district is revising their individual K-12 CT Pathway, and has committed to the implementation of Inclusive Computing Team this year (2020-21) to broaden access and participation among students to computing courses and activities.
  • Equity in STEM Education through Project-Based Learning – We are collecting and analyzing data on the implementation of a project-based sixth through eighth grade STEM curriculum that will be used to drive continuous improvement efforts.
  • Include Neurodiversity in Foundational & Applied Computational Thinking – INFACT is a Department of Education funded project to support neuro-diverse students (third through eighth grade) to learn computational thinking through a series of scaffolded activities that cumulatively develop and reinforce computing competencies.
  • Instructional Coaching for Tech-Enhanced Approaches in Mathematics (iCoachTEAM) – Funded by the Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program, we will design, implement and evaluate a school-based, one-to-one teacher coaching program to raise the quality of middle school mathematics instruction provided to students with high needs through meaningful use of technology.
  • New Visions Science Implementation – We are studying the implementation of an open high school life science curriculum.
  • NSF INCLUDES – The NSF INCLUDES coordination hub strives to broker connections, measure progress and impact, and advance the field among those working to improve equity and inclusion in STEM. Digital Promise is providing research communications and resource development support on this NSF-funded project with many partner institutions.
  • PA Smart Grant: Steam Studio Model for Innovation – This project supports eight Pennsylvania districts to use the STEAM Studio Model to introduce key computer sciences concepts through hands-on, problem-based learning. Our research focuses on gauging students’ and teachers’ conceptual understanding of these key competencies.
  • Science Projects Integrating Computing and Engineering – We are developing and implementing NGSS-aligned curriculum materials for upper elementary students, integrating Earth science, engineering, and computational thinking.
  • Tough as Nails, Nimble FingersFunded by the National Science Foundation, Tough As Nails is currently in its second year and has focused efforts this Fall and Winter (2020-21) on working with a cohort of lead Eastern Kentucky teachers piloting micro-credentials in computational thinking. The team is working collaboratively with PA’s South Fayette School District around the design and implementation of the next iteration of the Summer STEAM Institute, to be offered entirely remotely again this year.
  • United2Read – An expansion-level grant under the federal Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program, United2Read is scaling Learning Ovations’ A2i Professional Support System, which enables K-3 teachers to personalize literacy instruction. This project is conducted in collaboration with Learning Ovations, UC Irvine, and MDRC.
  • Early College High School Alumni Surveys – With support from the SAP, and facilitation from Digital Promise, four technology-focused early college high schools designed alumni surveys to better understand impacts of their programming and seek advice from their previous graduates. The surveys were created by six school community design teams to identify objectives, design questions and interpret results.
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