Ascend Initiative
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Ascend is an innovative initiative that aims to transform how we deliver instruction to our lowest-performing students in urban public schools.

Ascend is fundamentally reconceptualizing how we deliver instruction to our lowest-performing students — and in doing so, is unleashing the full potential of our hardworking classroom teachers.

Ascend was recently profiled in an education blog.
Our Vision
Our Vision
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The lowest achievers in our public school classrooms are often multiple grade levels behind their peers in core subject areas. They also face significant academic and social-emotional challenges that impede their learning in meaningful ways. We know firsthand how challenging it is for classroom teachers to both address the complex needs of these students and help them catch up to their peers — while, at the same time, balancing the demands of an entire classroom of students.

 

This is where Ascend comes in.

The philosophy that shapes Ascend is a recognition that if we can provide deep, individualized, academic and social-emotional support to the lowest-performing students in a classroom, we can not only transform outcomes for those students, but also support teachers by giving them the time and space they need to teach grade-level content effectively in the classroom.
This is how you transform a school. One classroom at a time.
We believe that there is an opportunity to achieve this vision on a massive scale. To validate this model, Ascend is currently implementing a multi-year demonstration project at Bond Hill Academy, an urban public elementary school in Cincinnati. We work day in and day out in the school building, alongside classroom teachers, as we develop and refine this transformative initiative.
What Do We Do?
What Do We Do?
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Ascend works with low-performing students in grades four through six at Bond Hill Academy who performed in the bottom two tiers on the math state test during the previous school year. Ascend’s Learning Coaches and participating students work together one-on-one for 90 minutes a week on individualized, “low-floor, high-ceiling” math tasks that foster a growth mindset and support social-emotional development. Each session takes place during the school day in one of Ascend’s Learning Stations — immersive, student-centered learning environments in the school building that empower students to take ownership over their learning.
During Ascend’s pilot phase, our team is developing impactful and engaging tasks, refining instruction, and designing training while working with a small cohort of students. Each year, we increase the number of students we serve, as we simultaneously analyze our data and refine our learning.
Curriculum & Training
Curriculum & Training
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What we teach matters, but more importantly, how our curriculum is delivered and who delivers it is what drives outcomes.
The role of the Learning Coach is critical to Ascend’s success. Our Learning Coaches serve as our individualization experts; they develop deep relationships with Ascend students, getting to know the ins-and-outs of who they are not only as learners, but also as complex human beings with a range of social-emotional needs. Our math instruction is about more than teaching discrete skills; rather, it serves as a vehicle for instilling in students the strategies of lifelong learners.
For these reasons and more, the training and development of our Learning Coaches is pivotal. Our Learning Coaches are paired with Ascend’s instructional coaches, who provide consistent support and feedback. On a weekly basis, Learning Coaches receive one-on-one coaching and training from this team of seasoned, expert teachers, with a focus on instructional coaching and analysis of student understanding, which informs our task planning and learning progressions. This rigorous process is what allows us to individualize at high levels.