S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Legacy Collection

In December 2020, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation concluded operations. Founded in 1957, the Foundation was committed to building a productive, vibrant, and sustainable California. In 2009, the Foundation decided to invest all of its assets, or spend down, by 2020 in order to spur significant progress on the challenging issues facing the state in education and environment. This collection features knowledge produced by the Foundation and its partners during its final decade of work. Read concluding reflections from the Foundation's president and learn more about its grantmaking.

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S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation National Character Initiative Retrospective Final Report

December 22, 2020

Starting in 2019, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) partnered with the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, to capture grantees' experiences with the National Character Initiative. Specifically, through interviews and surveys, AIR aimed to describe grantees' experiences implementing the grants and participating in the supports that were provided by the Foundation and expert consultants. Findings from the retrospective may be useful to other foundations as they decide how to fund and support youth-serving organizations.

Character

What Education Leaders Can Learn About NGSS Implementation: Highlights From the Early Implementers Initiative

November 1, 2020

From 2014 through 2020, eight diverse school districts and two charter management organizations ran a substantial experiment with ways of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in elementary and middle grades, called the California K - 8 NGSS Early Implementers Initiative. The Initiative certainly illustrated that a big financial investment can produce powerful change. However, even districts facing resource challenges may benefit from the lessons that were learned and the strategies that were developed by the Initiative.An external evaluation team has previously released a series of reports on what can be learned from the efforts of the Initiative districts. All reports are intended to be helpful to administrators at the school and district levels, education policymakers, and people charged with designing and/or delivering science professional learning. After briefly describing how the NGSS call for big shifts in science teaching and learning, this highlights report shares high-level, major learnings from the evaluation, distilled into only a couple dozen pages of main narrative. The report describes NGSS instruction as a powerful lever for equitable learning, explains how the Initiative made this kind of instruction happen, and describes the importance of the Initiative's ambitious professional learning for administrators.

STEM - Science

How Learning Happens Video Series

October 8, 2020

In this video series, Edutopia explores how educators can guide all students, regardless of their developmental starting points, to become productive and engaged learners.

Character

Residency Year Scholarship Stories of Impact: California State University, Bakersfield

September 16, 2020

The Residency Year Scholarship helps aspiring teachers preparing to serve students in high-need schools. It supports a year-long clinical experience working alongside an expert mentor. Scholarship recipients share their stories.

STEM - Teacher Preparation

NGSS in the Classroom: What Early Implementer Science Instruction Looks Like

September 1, 2020

This 13th report in WestEd's evaluation of the K-8 Early Implementers Initiative for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) provides an extensive response to the following question: What does NGSS teaching look like in the classroom? The report also briefly describes specific ways that teachers have advanced in their NGSS teaching over the years of the Initiative and how the Initiative prepared them for such teaching.The report draws most strongly from more than 50 classroom observations of, and interviews with, 24 teachers across six districts. It is also informed by multiple interviews with each district Project Director as well as results of an annual survey with high response rates from more than 500 K-8 science teachers.

STEM - Science

Building Leadership Capacity to Improve Math Teaching and Learning: Lessons from the Math in Common Initiative

September 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has required educators to make a seismic shift to distance learning, first on an emergency basis early in the crisis, and now with some amount of pre-planning in fall 2020. Many educators are concerned that distance learning exacerbates students' inability to access and engage in high-quality math learning. Educators are particularly concerned about learning for the groups of students that, prior to the pandemic, were already performing less well than average on the state math achievement test: Black students, English learner students, and students with disabilities.Before COVID-19, there was already a growing awareness that school site leaders' instructional leadership could be critical for raising student achievement. The pandemic further highlighted the potential for targeted leadership development to improve math teaching and learning in California schools at a moment when achievement gaps could be widening.Findings from WestEd's evaluation of a seven-year initiative called Math in Common may offer some useful insights at this time. Math in Common was organized to support 10 California districts in effectively implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M) across grades K-8. A key part of the effort to improve math teaching and learning in these districts involved providing leadership development opportunities for many types of district and school leaders — from teacher leaders and instructional coaches to principals and district administrators — to help them understand and support the math content and instruction that teachers are expected to use.In this brief, we offer three recommendations for how educators in California and beyond should conceptualize new leadership development opportunities to support math improvement - during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. We offer these recommendations to a broad audience of educators, administrators, and policymakers concerned with building leaders' capacity for school improvement, including representatives from county offices of education, district central offices, the California Subject Matter Projects, the newly formed California Leadership academies, and leadership associations such as the Association for California School Administrators. To ground our recommendations, we begin with some brief background on the CCSS-M and the Math in Common initiative.

STEM - Math

Healing the Impact of Racial Injustice and Inequity: The Role of Afterschool

August 21, 2020

On August 14, 2020, the How Kids Learn Foundation in partnership with the EduCare Foundation, welcomed Dr. Shawn Ginwright to lead a presentation on the Healing Impact of Racial Injustice and Inequity: The Role of Afterschool.The COVID-19 pandemic and the long list of African Americans killed by police has laid bare the racial injustice and inequity in our society. We know that many adult staff and many of our youth participants in afterschool are people of color. In the wake of this turmoil, how can we address the needs of our staff? How can we prepare staff and redesign our programs to promote racial healing? What is the best way to facilitate discussions of systemic racism? How is afterschool positioned for this? Should we urge/support youth to engage in civic action? And, is there a way to do some of this work remotely, as programs may not re-open in the Fall? Dr. Ginwright addresses some of these questions in his presentation and later answers participants' questions.

Character

The Future of California Science (Short Version)

August 3, 2020

In this brief video, California leaders describe the unprecedented collaboration that is driving implementation of the CA Next Generation Science Standards.

STEM - Science

Next Generation Science Standards: Learning from Early Implementers

August 3, 2020

In this brief video, teachers and administrators share their experiences and explain how the new science standards are transforming education in California classrooms.

STEM - Science

Six Years of Scaling Up: Districtwide Implementations of the Next Generation Science Standards

August 1, 2020

Many educational initiatives are funded for only a couple of years. The California NGSS Early Implementers Initiative spanned an extraordinary six years, during which eight school districts worked toward districtwide implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which call for teachers to transform their instructional practice. This 12th report in our evaluation series for policymakers, school and district administrators, and professional learning specialists describes the Initiative's scale-up in its later years to reach all K-8 science teachers. Specifically, the report addresses the following questions:In contrast to focusing in Years 1-4 on developing Teacher Leaders, what strategies did districts use in Years 5-6 to reach all other K-8 teachers of science (called "expansion teachers" in this report)?What impacts has the Initiative had on expansion teachers?Which professional learning strategies have been most and least effective for influencing the practice of expansion teachers?What special attention was paid to providing administrators with professional learning to prompt their support of NGSS implementation?

STEM - Science

Building Strong Partnerships to Improve Clinically Oriented Teacher Preparation

August 1, 2020

Educators and policymakers across the United States recognize a growing urgency to improve the nation's systems of teacher preparation. Ensuring that teachers stay and thrive in the profession depends largely on having system-wide policies and practices in place that address teacher shortages, promote equity and excellence, and cultivate expertise, diversity, and more.The California State University (CSU) system partnered with the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation to launch the New Generation of Educators Initiative (NGEI), in an effort to transform the nature and quality of teacher preparation at both individual CSU campuses and across the CSU system as a whole. To answer the question, "What does it take to transform teacher education?" WestEd and SRI International conducted an evaluation to examine and share learnings about the CSU-led effort to implement large-scale clinically oriented teacher preparation reform.As part of a series of new evaluation reports that explore key transformational elements of effective teacher preparation programs, this paper describes how participating CSU campuses and their partner school districts strengthened their relationships and developed strategic partnerships to establish the necessary foundations for high-quality, clinically oriented programming.This paper identifies four levers that can be operationalized in order to sustain strong partnerships between stakeholders:Lever 1: Create and operationalize a shared visionLever 2: Identify key rolesLever 3: Ensure space and time to collaborateLever 4: Share data to identify needs and monitor progress

STEM - Teacher Preparation

The NGEI Approach to Improving Teacher Preparation in the CSU Through a System of Supports

August 1, 2020

Educators and policymakers across the United States recognize a growing urgency to improve the nation's systems of teacher preparation. Ensuring that teachers stay and thrive in the profession depends largely on having system-wide policies and practices in place that address teacher shortages, promote equity and excellence, and cultivate expertise, diversity, and more.The California State University (CSU) system partnered with the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation to launch the New Generation of Educators Initiative (NGEI), in an effort to transform the nature and quality of teacher preparation at both individual CSU campuses and across the CSU system as a whole. To answer the question, "What does it take to transform teacher education?" WestEd and SRI International conducted an evaluation to examine and share learnings about the CSU-led effort to implement large-scale clinically oriented teacher preparation reform.As part of a series of new evaluation reports that explore key transformational elements of effective teacher preparation programs, this paper reviews the evolution of a system of support for NGEI campuses that included targeted grant requirements, coaching and technical assistance, and a learning community to help partnerships share problems of practice. The following levers supported NGEI campuses to undergo rapid transformation, while implementing reforms in systematic, sustainable, and context-specific ways:Lever 1: Balance grant requirements with flexibility and responsive supportLever 2: Customize technical assistance support to meet partnership needsLever 3: Embed opportunities for cross-networked learning and collaboration

STEM - Teacher Preparation

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