What is the Hewlett Foundation's Role?

“The essence of deeper learning is changing the manner in which we work with young people.” –Superintendent James Merrill, Virginia Beach Public Schools.

Everyone who cares about our kids is responsible for ensuring that they have an effective education. Working toward the goal that all U.S. students will develop deeper learning skills and be prepared for the future, the Hewlett Foundation makes grants in four main areas:

1. Resetting learning goals and requirements to be results-oriented.
Deeper learning will become the norm when it’s the stated goal and measure of a school’s success. Our grantees are working with state and district leaders to ensure that the explicit goal for schools is to teach students deeper learning skills—so that what they’re learning translates directly into what they’ll need to be successful in college and careers—and to hold schools accountable to that goal.

One of our key partners is the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which brings together the top education leaders from every state to improve our schools. It hosts the Innovation Lab Network (ILN), a collaborative effort of nine states that are committed to making deeper learning the goal of K-12 education and ensuring that students are ready for college, careers, and life. 

2. Evaluating what students know and can do.
Improving the testing system is critical to making deeper learning a reality, because tests strongly influence what gets taught in the classroom. Parents and educators need to know that their kids are prepared for the twenty-first century. Our grantees are developing new ways to measure students’ deeper learning through graduation portfolios, projects, and more effective assessments.

The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) is working with us to find new, more effective ways to evaluate what our students know and can do. Currently, SCOPE is compiling a performance “task bank”—a set of projects and activities that teachers can use in class to see how well their students are gaining deeper learning knowledge and skills.

3. Supporting teachers.
Along with parents, teachers have the biggest impact on students’ success. Teachers who have been given the curricula, tools, and training to teach deeper learning embrace it. In a deeper learning classroom, the teacher might become a guide as students direct their own learning, interact with each other, and work through challenging, real-world projects. Our grantees are working to provide resources to thousands of teachers to support them in bringing deeper learning and the Common Core State Standards to life in their classrooms.

One of our partners, Expeditionary Learning, focuses on everything a teacher might need to teach deeper learning, from a curriculum and lesson plans to training opportunities. Another partner, the Teaching Channel, offers an online showcase of teacher best practices. Any teacher anywhere can access over 700 videos for free and see peers around the country teaching real lessons that cover deeper learning knowledge and skills. Watch Ms. Novak teach her seventh graders how to think analytically, or Ms. Price help her students to recognize their own strengths.

4. Making continuous improvement: learning, evaluating, and demonstrating what works.
We’ve identified schools and districts nationwide, many in high-poverty communities, that are working hard to teach students deeper learning knowledge and skills. We’re also supporting organizations that are evaluating which tools are most effective in making deeper learning a reality and providing those tools to teachers and students. Deeper learning champions are demonstrating that every student in every school can learn the knowledge and skills to be prepared for success.

One of our partners is the Deeper Learning Network (DLN)—a set of school networks comprising over 500 schools in forty-one states. The DLN demonstrates that schools and teachers can use a range of approaches to prepare students for the future through deeper learning. For example, see what students at High Tech High have accomplished through project-based learning. Or read more about the collaborative and cooperative classrooms that the International Network for Public Schools has created for English language learners.

These efforts combine to ensure that the entire U.S. education system becomes effective, transforming the way we prepare and equip teachers, hold schools accountable, evaluate student learning, and develop curricula and instructional methods that prepare students for success.

The Hewlett Foundation has a simple commitment: to support organizations that are demonstrating the enormous potential of deeper learning, to help states, districts, schools, teachers, and students to embrace this dynamic way of learning, and to partner with others as we go.

We’re committed to ensuring that every student emerges from school prepared for success in college, a rewarding career, and life.

For more information on our work, read our in-depth strategic plan.