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Overview of the Hop, Skip, Leapfrog Project and Guide


What have we learned? What will we take forward?

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed incredible challenges for American K-12 education. From navigating the shift to remote learning to putting in place new measures to support safety to identifying and responding to an increasingly wide set of needs, we’ve been forced to make radical changes in how, when, and where we are learning and working together.

These radical changes have built new skills, muscles, and mindsets at the individual, organizational, and ecosystem levels. During a time of incredible challenge, we saw so many examples of inspirational leadership; authentic stakeholder engagement, innovative ways to support educators and add vital capacity, agility, flexibility, and creativity that removed barriers and surfaced new practices and solutions.

It’s critical we recognize and harness these capabilities to advance more personalized, mastery-focused, and whole-child-developing approaches to ensure equitable, effective, and engaging learning for every child. By exploring their “leading edge”— wherever that might be relative to where a system or school is — education teams can plot their own way forward, setting their sights on meaningful, substantial change to reach the unique needs of every learner.

The Hop, Skip, Leapfrog project is the result of a four-month research study conducted by The Learning Accelerator team to identify and codify new strategies that emerged during the pandemic. Developed through interviews with system leaders and experts across the country, the project also seeks to make sense of lessons we can learn about sustaining and scaling new work, building greater resiliency and equity, over time.

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They just found ways to do the impossible things – both the students, the staff, the families, everybody just working together, and it was really cool.

Dr. Tina Owen-Moore
Superintendent, School District of Cudahy

How To Use This Guide

This guide is intended to offer school and system teams concrete, doable, yet aspirational examples of strategies they can adopt or adapt in their own communities. It is organized into three main sections.

  • Hops, Skips, and Leaps in Practice focuses on concrete improvements and innovations to teaching and learning that school systems pursued over the course of spring 2019 and through the 2020-2021 school year. It captures emerging strategies that made learning more targeted and relevant, actively engaging, socially connected, and growth oriented. These strategies are explored on a continuum, from small “hops” (more incremental changes) to large “leaps” (significant departures from more traditional approaches).

  • Shifting Conditions explores the ways schools and districts have and continue to shift the essential supports, structures and systems, and ongoing processes that allow new, student-level practices to take shape and grow. This section shares concrete examples of how districts and schools made these changes, improving support for implementation, using resources more flexibly, and driving change through mission-focused, inclusive, and transparent leadership.

  • Take It Forward in Your Context offers leadership teams a structure for identifying the meaningful practice changes and systems shifts they’ve made, ideas for how to build momentum, and waypoints for next steps.

In each of these sections, you’ll find concrete examples and artifacts designed to support deeper understanding and action. The appendix offers additional information on other project resources and participants, including Launching Forward, a whitepaper that synthesizes learnings across school systems.


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