Designing Education

Designing Education

A podcast hosted by Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins School of Education.


January 8, 2024 30 mins

In Season 2, Episode 8, Sofia Russo, Principal of High School for Media and Communications located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City joins Robert Balfanz for a conversation about what is possible when school leaders, teachers, students, families and community members are given opportunities to engage in school redesign. With just a little support and structure, Media and Communications has instituted practices...

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In Season 2,  episode 7  Graham Wood, Director of the Office of Graduate Success, at the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce joins Robert Balfanz for a conversation about how high school graduation requirements and the very design of high schools can be re-imagined so that all students graduate high school on a pathway to adult success.

The great American high school of the 20th century enabled more people than in a...

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Celebrating its one-year anniversary, the National Partnership for Student Success (NPSS), a partnership between the U.S. Department of Education, AmeriCorps, and the Johns Hopkins Everyone Graduates Center, was launched following a call to action from the Biden-Harris Administration for more Americans to serve as tutors, mentors, college/career advisors, student success coaches, and integrated student support coordinators to provi...

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In this episode, Robert Balfanz continues the conversation with New Hampshire’s Extended Learning Opportunity Network’s Kerrie Alley-Violette and Sean Peschel, two on-the-ground educators working to make “learning anywhere, anytime” real.  

 At the time when the sources and locations of knowledge and training have multiplied exponentially, innovative efforts like New Hampshire’s ELO Network help break seat time requirements, drawing...

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When teams of educators, students, and community members across the nation work to redesign high schools, one thing that repeatedly stands in the way is the school schedule and the need to meet seat time requirements. There is no better example of how the 20th Century designed high school no longer works in the 21st century than seat time. It is based in the idea that how much you learn is determined by how long you spend sitting i...

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As a species, humans are smart, adaptive, and resilient.  We all have the capacity to think, create, and contribute to society at a high level.  What stands between this shared capacity and everyone realizing its full potential is the opportunity to learn.  This is where human shortcomings come in … including greed, power, fear, racism, and othering.  They play a role in the development of schools and education systems that are not...

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The evidence is clear. Students need to attend school on a regular basis to succeed.  If the purpose of school is to help students learn and development, then being there is important. 

Until quite recently, however, we did not regularly measure the extent to which the students enrolled in a school were attending on a regular basis.  Until 2017 or so, the most common measure used to measure a school’s attendance was avera...

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As we kick off season two of the Designing Education podcast during National Mentoring Month, Bob Balfanz is joined by Tim Wills, Chief Impact Officer for MENTOR, the leading organization in the nation working to scale high-quality mentoring in and out of school.

Positive relationships enable trust, which enables cooperation, and collective and engaged effort. They also serve as a buffer to the impacts of trauma and life's chal...

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Traditionally, schools have been designed around a set of standard practices and expectations. When students do not fully benefit from these practices or conform to the expectations, schools either add on supports or establish consequences to try to modify behaviors and outcomes.

Over the past 15 years, researchers, school officials, and school teams have developed an approach that pools the knowledge of teachers, counsel...

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The public high school is a uniquely American invention, and our public high schools have played a powerful role in the development of our nation. The challenge is that in today’s world, a high school diploma alone is not enough to usher young people immediately into a middle-class, life-supporting existence. Further, public high schools must take all who walk in the door, regardless of prior motivations, learning experiences, and ...

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October 3, 2022 44 mins

In this episode, Robert Balfanz is joined by Susanne Diggs-Wilborn, Vice President for College Success for Achieve Atlanta. Our nation's public education system has always sought to prepare and enable each generation to be ready to succeed in the world. To be on a pathway to adult success requires not only a high school diploma, but some postsecondary schooling or training beyond it. Yet, the supports we provide to students to...

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In this episode, Ashley Seiler, Chief Partnership Officer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, joins Robert Balfanz for a discussion about how BBBS created an ecosystem of over 100 community partners, three school districts, and 18 schools that serves over 10,000 students in a range of critical supports both in and out of school.  

We often say it takes a village to raise a child. We don't, however, organize our sch...

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In this episode, Dr. Richard Lofton, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Education and leader of the Nobody Asked Me Campaign, joins Dr. Balfanz to discuss the Campaign and how it sheds light on the experiences of students and families in Baltimore City. 

When we think about designing education to meet the needs of the 21st century and provide everyone a robust pathway to adult success, we typically draw on two source...

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Throughout most of the twentieth century, high schools were seen as the end of formal public education. After high school, some students went to college, mainly those interested in the professions—medicine, law, architecture, engineering, and so on—but most went right to work or started a family. There were some vocational courses offered in high school, mainly because there was federal funding and it was often viewed as an outlet ...

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Farah Jimenez, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Education Fund, joins Robert Balfanz to explore the function of local education intermediaries and examine the roles they play in designing the education systems we need to enable all students to succeed. 

One of the unique features of education in the United States is how decentralized and localized the decision-making is. This has the ability to be a source of creativity and fle...

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In this episode, Dr. Jonathan Mathis, Senior VP of Education for Policy and Systems Change at City Year, explains how near-peer success coaches can help make schools more equitable and effective for all. 

One reason why many low income and minority students do not have a strong pathway to adult success is that too many attend a subset of middle and high schools where a large number of students constantly face the challenge...

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In this episode, Dr. Martha Mac Iver, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Center for Social Organization of Schools,  joins Dr. Balfanz to discuss her new book, “Continuous Improvement in High Schools.” The book offers practical guidance to high school leaders and teachers on using a continuous improvement approach to enable more students to succeed.

Those designing education systems that work f...

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This is the second episode in a series of conversations with education thinkers from across the country. In this episode Dr. Balfanz is joined by Joel Vargas, Vice President of Programs at Jobs For the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit that drives change in the American workforce and education systems to achieve economic advancement for all.

It has become a common refrain during the last year and a half that we should not return to...

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April 4, 2022 31 mins

Nearly two years of pandemic-related disruptions have caused Many young people to miss out on significant amounts of learning and instruction. 

In this episode, Dr. Balfanz is joined by Educational Resource Strategies Chief Executive Officer Dr. Karen Hawley Miles and Senior Manager Eddie Branchaud to discuss credit recovery and the challenges that schools face as they help students get back on track. 

Hear about what Karen and Eddie...

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Launching April 4, 2022, Designing Education is a podcast hosted by Robert Balfanz, director of the Everyone Graduates Center.

In each episode, Dr. Balfanz will talk to education leaders and thinkers with bold new ideas to reshape American education so that it works for all students. Together, we tackle some of education’s most pressing challenges and untapped opportunities.  Whether you’re a researcher, education advocate...

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